North Carolina’s 20 Safest Cities of 2018

Written by | Updated September 10, 2018

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.

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 2019.

If you would like to contact a SafeWise Safest Cities Analyst, please email

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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  • Jennifer

    I am a little surprised that Sanford isn’t on the top 20 list, I haven’t ever seen problems here, I even hired Value Build Homes to build my dream home there, I plan to grow old here. Hopefully this is adjusted for the new year. Best of luck.

    • Michael Rodriguez

      Sanford used to have a very high crime rate. However, I haven’t seen any big problems here either. I used to live in some bad areas of Fayetteville though, so living just about anywhere else feels like less crime.

  • Rachel Kadar

    Hello Millie, What does “Express Homes” mean?