President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.”1 It seems North Carolina’s leaders agree. With the passage of the Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act—going into full effect in December 2019—they’re taking steps to help reduce juvenile recidivism and get kids on the path to success. The so-called Raise the Age Bill allows 16- and 17-year-olds (who commit certain crimes) to be rehabilitated through the juvenile justice system, which the Juvenile Reinvestment Report concludes is more beneficial than incarceration in an adult facility.
A focus on youth carries through to the cities on our list, many of which are consistently ranked as some of the safest in the Tar Heel State. From smaller places like Davidson and Woodfin to much larger cities like Cary and Concord, over half of the cities on this year’s list also appeared on last year’s list. What’s more, according to the most recent FBI crime report, the nine safest cities in North Carolina cited fewer than one violent crime for every 1,000 people, while the average of all cities on our list was only 1.04—a rate 80% lower than the state average.
Violent crimes such as murder and robbery tend to make headlines, but property crime is another important indicator of a city’s safety. We’re happy to report that none of North Carolina’s twenty safest cities cited more than twenty-five property crimes per 1,000 people, and some cities (such as second-ranked Elon and third-ranked Pinehurst) reported remarkably fewer.
Burglary, one of the most feared property crimes, is on the decline nationally, and the same holds true for North Carolina, which experienced a 4.6% decrease in reported burglaries since our last report. With this in mind, we congratulate Waxhaw—the fastest-growing suburb of Charlotte—which reported a nominal thirty-five burglaries for the year.
Even if you live in a traditionally low-crime community, you shouldn’t take safety for granted. If there’s one thing that helps keep crime at bay, it’s taking basic precautions, like being aware of your surroundings and keeping informed about crime in your area. We also encourage you to check out our North Carolina Safety Directory, where you’ll find numerous crime prevention and emergency preparedness resources.
The 20 Safest Cities in North Carolina
1. Holly Springs Population: 32,862 Violent crimes per 1,000: 0.27 Property crimes per 1,000: 8.98 Total crime: 3.05% violent, 96.95% property
2. Elon Population: 10,150 Violent crimes per 1,000: 0.30 Property crimes per 1,000: 7.98 Total crime: 3.70% violent, 96.30% property
3. Pinehurst Population: 15,948 Violent crimes per 1,000: 0.38 Property crimes per 1,000: 5.27 Total crime: 7.14% violent, 92.86% property
4. Davidson Population: 12,469 Violent crimes per 1,000: 0.72 Property crimes per 1,000: 10.99 Total crime: 6.57% violent, 93.43% property
5. Apex Population: 47,324 Violent crimes per 1,000: 0.85 Property crimes per 1,000: 12.70 Total crime: 6.66% violent, 93.34% property
6. Rolesville Population: 6,962 Violent crimes per 1,000: 0.86 Property crimes per 1,000: 17.38 Total crime: 4.96% violent, 95.04% property
7. Stallings Population: 15,569 Violent crimes per 1,000: 0.90 Property crimes per 1,000: 13.30 Total crime: 6.76% violent, 93.24% property
8. Fletcher Population: 7,660 Violent crimes per 1,000: 0.91 Property crimes per 1,000: 21.02 Total crime: 4.35% violent, 95.65% property
9. Cary Population: 164,835 Violent crimes per 1,000: 0.92 Property crimes per 1,000: 10.05 Total crime: 9.12% violent, 90.88% property
10. Fuquay-Varina Population: 25,249 Violent crimes per 1,000: 1.11 Property crimes per 1,000: 18.97 Total crime: 5.85% violent, 94.15% property
11. Huntersville Population: 53,932 Violent crimes per 1,000: 1.17 Property crimes per 1,000: 21.45 Total crime: 5.45% violent, 94.55% property
12. Woodfin Population: 6,411 Violent crimes per 1,000: 1.25 Property crimes per 1,000: 14.04 Total crime: 8.89% violent, 91.11% property
13. Wake Forest Population: 39,996 Violent crimes per 1,000: 1.35 Property crimes per 1,000: 23.85 Total crime: 5.66% violent, 94.34% property
14. Mint Hill Population: 26,221 Violent crimes per 1,000: 1.37 Property crimes per 1,000: 24.10 Total crime: 5.70% violent, 94.30% property
15. Leland Population: 18,842 Violent crimes per 1,000: 1.38 Property crimes per 1,000: 22.66 Total crime: 6.09% violent, 93.91% property
16. Concord Population: 89,446 Violent crimes per 1,000: 1.39 Property crimes per 1,000: 24.65 Total crime: 5.62% violent, 94.38% property
17. Waxhaw Population: 14,367 Violent crimes per 1,000: 1.39 Property crimes per 1,000: 10.09 Total crime: 13.79% violent, 86.21% property
18. Clayton Population: 19,968 Violent crimes per 1,000: 1.40 Property crimes per 1,000: 19.03 Total crime: 7.37% violent, 92.63% property
19. Knightdale Population: 14,875 Violent crimes per 1,000: 1.41 Property crimes per 1,000: 21.24 Total crime: 6.65% violent, 93.35% property
20. Black Mountain Population: 8,368 Violent crimes per 1,000: 1.43 Property crimes per 1,000: 14.82 Total crime: 9.68% violent, 90.32% property
How We Chose the Safest Cities in North Carolina
To identify the twenty safest cities in North Carolina, 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.
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.