With fewer than four crimes reported for every 1,000 people, Iowa’s violent crime rate is nearly 15% lower than the national average. But even in historically low-crime states, personal safety shouldn’t be taken for granted. Crime can happen anywhere at any time, and events like the Parkland, Florida, school shooting prove this point all too well.

This horrific incident sent an unnerving feeling across the country, and in Keosauqua, Iowa, it prompted a group of concerned moms to take immediate action. In just one day, they raised enough money to outfit every classroom in their school district with a device that fits over the door knob to help prevent it from being opened from the outside. We applaud these parents for their proactiveness, as citizen involvement can go a long way toward keeping communities safe. In fact, it’s one likely reason the violent crime rate among the cities on our list was 71% less than the national average.

Taking a closer look at the FBI crime report, we discovered several of the state’s safest cities—including Spencer, Pella, and Le Mars—reported ten or fewer violent crimes. First-ranked Sioux Center deserves a SafeWise shout-out for having the state’s lowest rate of both violent crime and property crime; less than two criminal incidents of any type were reported for every 1,000 residents.

From small towns like Anamosa and Eldridge to bustling urban centers such as Ankeny and Urbandale, if you call any one of these twenty cities home, you’ve certainly earned bragging rights. Now take the next step. Get familiar with the resources in our Iowa Safety Directory and—just like that group of take-charge moms—help your city become an even safer place.


The 20 Safest Cities in Iowa

1. Sioux Center

Population: 7,544
Violent crimes per 1,000: 0.27
Property crimes per 1,000: 1.46
Total crime: 18.49% violent, 81.51% property

2. Orange City

Population: 6,225
Violent crimes per 1,000: 0.32
Property crimes per 1,000: 7.71
Total crime: 4.15% violent, 95.85% property

3. Carroll

Population: 9,940
Violent crimes per 1,000: 0.60
Property crimes per 1,000: 20.93
Total crime: 2.87% violent, 97.13% property

4. Spencer

Population: 11,211
Violent crimes per 1,000: 0.80
Property crimes per 1,000: 20.52
Total crime: 3.90% violent, 96.10% property

5. Eldridge

Population: 6,348
Violent crimes per 1,000: 0.95
Property crimes per 1,000: 2.21
Total crime: 42.99% violent, 57.01% property

6. Pella

Population: 10,368
Violent crimes per 1,000: 0.96
Property crimes per 1,000: 10.13
Total crime: 9.48% violent, 90.52% property

7. Le Mars

Population: 9,750
Violent crimes per 1,000: 1.03
Property crimes per 1,000: 22.87
Total crime: 4.50% violent, 95.50% property

8. Johnston

Population: 21,635
Violent crimes per 1,000: 1.20
Property crimes per 1,000: 10.45
Total crime: 11.48% violent, 88.52% property

9. Mason City

Population: 27,230
Violent crimes per 1,000: 1.36
Property crimes per 1,000: 41.20
Total crime: 3.30% violent, 96.70% property

10. Decorah

Population: 7,864
Violent crimes per 1,000: 1.40
Property crimes per 1,000: 9.66
Total crime: 14.49% violent, 85.51% property

11. Urbandale

Population: 45,012
Violent crimes per 1,000: 1.49
Property crimes per 1,000: 15.55
Total crime: 9.58% violent, 90.42% property

12. Norwalk

Population: 10,371
Violent crimes per 1,000: 1.54
Property crimes per 1,000: 8.39
Total crime: 18.36% violent, 81.64% property

13. Cedar Falls

Population: 41,651
Violent crimes per 1,000: 1.58
Property crimes per 1,000: 17.00
Total crime: 9.29% violent, 90.71% property

14. Ames

Population: 66,333
Violent crimes per 1,000: 1.61
Property crimes per 1,000: 16.24
Total crime: 9.91% violent, 90.09% property

15. Fairfield

Population: 9,982
Violent crimes per 1,000: 1.70
Property crimes per 1,000: 32.36
Total crime: 5.25% violent, 94.75% property

16. Altoona

Population: 17,503
Violent crimes per 1,000: 1.77
Property crimes per 1,000: 29.88
Total crime: 5.92% violent, 94.08% property

17. Anamosa

Population: 5,454
Violent crimes per 1,000: 1.83
Property crimes per 1,000: 13.38
Total crime: 13.68% violent, 86.32% property

18. Marion

Population: 37,845
Violent crimes per 1,000: 1.88
Property crimes per 1,000: 15.96
Total crime: 11.78% violent, 88.22% property

19. Ankeny

Population: 59,236
Violent crimes per 1,000: 2.16
Property crimes per 1,000: 12.76
Total crime: 16.93% violent, 83.07% property

20. West Des Moines

Population: 65,631
Violent crimes per 1,000: 2.27
Property crimes per 1,000: 23.05
Total crime: 9.85% violent, 90.15% property

How We Chose the Safest Cities in Iowa

To identify the twenty safest cities in Iowa, we reviewed the 2016 FBI crime report statistics and population data. Cities that fell below identified population thresholds or that failed to submit a complete crime report to the FBI were excluded from the ranking system.

Our evaluation is based on the number of reported violent crimes (aggravated assault, murder, rape, and robbery) in each city. If there was a tie, we also factored in the number of property crimes (burglary, arson, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft). To level the playing field, we calculated the rate of crimes per 1,000 people in each city. This makes it easier to directly compare the likelihood of these crimes occurring in cities with vastly different populations.

Learn more about how we rank our Safest Cities reports.

How to Make a Safe Home Anywhere

Wherever you live, feeling safe in your home can bring greater peace of mind and happiness. Whether your city made our list or not, we recommend adding extra security to your home with monitored security services provided by the nation’s leading home security providers.

To learn more about the home security options available to you, check out SafeWise’s picks for  Best Home Security Systems of 2018.

If you would like to contact a SafeWise Safest Cities Analyst, please email info@safewise.com.

Written by Alexia Chianis

Wanderlust junky and mom of two, Alexia is a former police officer and U.S. Army Captain who draws on her experiences to write about a myriad of safety topics. Learn more

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