The SafeWise Team is pleased to release the seventh annual Safest Cities report.
North Carolina’s 20 Safest Cities of 2021
Here are the 10 safest cities in North Carolina for 2021
1. Holly Springs
4. Wake Forest
See if your city made the full list.
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In our 2021 State of Safety survey, 56% of respondents in North Carolina said they worried daily about their safety, which is a slight drop compared to last year (57%) but still higher than the national average of 47%.
North Carolina residents also reported fewer personal experiences with crimes and violence—most notably a 58% drop in experiences with property crime year over year. The state's crime rates also moved downward, though property crime rates remained above regional and national averages.
2021 North Carolina crime rates
North Carolina's violent crime rate went down slightly this year, dropping from 3.8 per 1,000 people to 3.7, representing a decrease of 215 crimes statewide. The state's property crime rate saw a larger decline from 24.9 per 1,000 to 23.6.
In the South Atlantic region, North Carolina's violent crime rate matched the regional average but was the fourth-lowest above Virginia (2.1), West Virginia (3.2), and Georgia (3.4). As for property crime, North Carolina had the third-highest rate below South Carolina (29.4) and Georgia (23.8).
On a national level, North Carolina's violent crime rate matches the national average while its property crime rate is above the national average.
Level of concern and experience with crime in North Carolina
Compared to last year's survey, North Carolinians were slightly less concerned about their safety on a daily basis—but still above the national average. While respondents reported fewer experiences with crime, violent crime and gun violence made only incremental improvements in the last 12 months. Experiences with property crime, however, saw a massive downward swing, making a 58% improvement overall.
Crime concerns in North Carolina
We asked North Carolina residents which crimes they worry may happen to them. See if North Carolina residents are concerned about the same crime issues as the rest of the country.
View the complete 2021 State of Safety report.
Violent crime in North Carolina: Fear vs. reality
North Carolina beats or matches the national average for violent crime, which could explain why a majority of residents feel safe in their home state. But survey respondents do express slightly higher levels of concern for gun violence and police violence happening to them than typical Americans.
- 55% of residents in North Carolina reported feeling safe in their state, which matches the sentiment of Americans as a whole.
- 10% of North Carolinians reported having a personal experience with violent crime in the past 12 months—down from 11% last year.
- As with most states, murder is the least common violent crime in The Old North State, making up 2% of violent crimes (US 1%)—the state's 20 safest cities also averaged 2%.
- Rape makes up 8% of violent crimes in North Carolina (US 8%). The 20 safest cities have a higher number of instances at 13%.
- 35% of residents in North Carolina report using some form of personal protection like pepper spray—just above the US average (34%).
- 44% of survey participants say their personal safety has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic compared to 44% of Americans.
Attitudes about police and gun violence in North Carolina
- 55% of people in North Carolina said gun violence was a top safety concern—slightly higher than the US average of 53%.
- 6% of survey respondents reported experiencing gun violence in the last 12 months, a small decrease from 7% last year.
- There were 20 mass shootings in North Carolina in 2020, an 81% increase from 11 in 2019.
- 43% of North Carolina residents worry about police violence daily—higher than the US average of 40%.
- 56% of North Carolinians reported having confidence in law enforcement—the same as the US average.
- There were 88 officer-involved shootings in 2020, up from 79 in 2019.
Property crime in North Carolina: Fear vs. reality
North Carolina residents in our survey reported far fewer personal experiences with property crime year over year. This reflects a downward trend in the state's property crime rate over the past few years. But burglary does appear to be more common in North Carolina than other states.
- North Carolinians reported 2.4 times fewer personal experiences with property crime this year (10%) compared to last year (24%).
- Burglary accounts for 22% of all property crimes in The Tar Heel State (the 20 safest cities average 14%), which is higher than the national rate of 16%.
- 16% of participants reported experiencing package theft, putting North Carolina below the US average of 20%.
- 60% of people in North Carolina use some form of property protection—close to the national average of 62%.
- The top form of property protection in North Carolina this year was security systems with 29% of survey participants using them. This is above the national average of 25%.
- 28% of residents in North Carolina say the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the security of their property compared to the US average of 29%.
A closer look at the safest cities in North Carolina
For the purposes of this report, the terms “dangerous” and “safest” refer explicitly to crime rates as calculated from FBI crime data—no other characterization of any community is implied or intended.
- We didn't have a list of safest cities in North Carolina last year when the FBI deemed the state's data underreported, so there aren't any ranking changes to report this year.
- Holly Springs takes the top spot this year thanks to it having the lowest property crime rate in the state and the third-lowest violent crime rate.
- Half of the safest cities have populations over 20,000—most safest cities in other states tend to be smaller in size.
- Cary, North Carolina's seventh-largest city, is the largest city in the top 20—it's unusual for a city of this size (population 172,525) to make the list in any state.
- Morrisville had the lowest violent crime rate in the state (0.4).
- 90% of the safest cities had fewer than 100 total violent crimes this year while 4 cities reported violent crimes using single digits—Elon, Davidson, Wendell, and Winterville.
- There were 14 reported murders among the safest cities.
- 4 of the safest cities reported less than 100 total property crimes—Wendell, Elon, Boiling Spring Lakes, and Winterville.
- 75% of the safest cities reported fewer than 500 total property crimes.
How we determined the safest cities
Learn how we identified the safest cities on our methodology page.
How to make a safe home anywhere
Didn't find your city in the top 20?
We calculated crime rates for every city in the state that met our population threshold, based on the state’s median population. See how the remaining cities ranked in the list below.
NOTE: If you don’t see your city on the list, it means that it was below the population threshold or didn’t submit a complete crime report to the FBI in 2019.
VC per 1,000
PC per 1,000
|39||Kill Devil Hills||7.27K||2.6||38.7|
Find the safest cities in each state
Click on the state image or dropdown menu below to check out the safest cities for each state.
Related articles on SafeWise
FBI: Uniform Crime Reporting Program, “2019 Crime in the United States,” Accessed March 15, 2021.
US Census Bureau, "Data Explorer," Accessed November 18, 2020.
Best Places, “Find a Place Search Tool,” Accessed January 6, 2021.
SafeWise, “2021 State of Safety survey,” Accessed March 15, 2021.
Gun Violence Archive, “Past Summary Ledgers,” Accessed January 6, 2021.
Gun Violence Archive, “General Methodology,” Accessed March 15, 2021.
Melody Hicks, Ben Stickle, Joshua Harms, American Journal of Criminal Justice, “Assessing the Fear of Package Theft,” January 04, 2021. Accessed March 15, 2021.
For definitions and more on data sources, see our methodology page.