If you live in Rhode Island, you might experience higher concern about your safety than the rest of the country. But crime rates in Rhode Island are lower than most of the nation—especially in the state’s 10 safest cities.
Half of the Rhode Islanders we talked to in our 2020 State of Safety survey said that they feel high concern about their safety every day. That’s four percentage points higher than the national average of 46%.
Crime rates in the Ocean State are lower than national averages. The violent crime rate is 2.2 incidents per 1,000 people, compared to 3.7 nationwide. Rhode Island’s property crime rate is 16.6, which is nearly six incidents below the national rate of 22.0 per 1,000.
Rhode Island has the third-highest number of people who report being affected by a mass shooting.
Experience with crime is also lower than most of the country, except in regard to mass shootings. Rhode Island has the third-highest number of people who’ve ever been affected by a mass shooting—13% versus 7% nationwide.
Mass shootings are devastating events that leave lasting scars, but they are outlier occurrences that don’t necessarily reflect the general safety of a community or city.
Violent Crime in Rhode Island: Fear vs. Reality
Being the victim of a mass shooting is the primary violent crime fear in Rhode Island. It’s also the crime that most Rhode Islanders feel is the most likely to actually happen.
50% named mass shootings the most concerning violent crime, compared to 38% across the US.
27% also felt that the most likely violent crime that could occur is a mass shooting, versus 23% nationwide.
There hasn’t been a mass shooting in Rhode Island since 2015.
Between 2014 and 2019, there were 2 mass shootings in Rhode Island, resulting in zero deaths and nine injured. Across the US there were 2,087 mass shooting incidents between 2014 and 2019.
Aggravated assault was the most prominent violent crime in the Ocean State, with 150 incidents reported by the safest cities—that works out to 58% of all violent crime in the safest cities. Statewide, assault accounts for 59% of all violent crime.
Property Crime in Rhode Island: Fear vs. Reality
A break-in when there’s no one at home is the top property crime concern in Rhode Island. Yet people think it’s more likely that their digital property (files, photos, etc.) could be stolen.
65% said a break-in while the residents are out is the property crime that causes the highest concern, compared to 62% nationally.
Burglary accounted for only 15% of all property crime reported by the safest cities and 16% of all property crime in Rhode Island.
36% feel that the most likely property crime that could happen to them is the theft of digital property. That lines up with the rest of America—36% is the national average.
Last year, digital security was the biggest safety concern in Rhode Island.
Larceny-theft is the most common property crime in Rhode Island, comprising 75% of the state’s property crimes and 77% of the property crimes reported by the safest cities.
30% of Rhode Island’s respondents use a security system to protect their home. That’s six points higher than the national average of 24%.
A dog or other guard animal is the top security measure used in Rhode Island, with 35% reporting that they use one for property protection, versus 33% nationwide.
24% use no form of protection or security on their property, compared to 29% across the country.
A Closer Look at Rhode Island’s Safest Cities of 2020
For the purposes of this report, the terms “safest” and “dangerous” refer explicitly to crime rates as calculated from FBI crime data—no other characterization of any community is implied or intended.
Rhode Island has a new number one this year, Bristol, which reported 10 violent crimes and 89 property crimes.
Half of the cities improved their rank year over year, and East Providence had the biggest jump, moving five spots to climb from 12 to 7.
4 cities dropped in rank this year, including last year’s number one, Cumberland.
SafeWise uses the GVA definition of a mass shooting: “If four or more people are shot or killed in a single incident, not involving the shooter, that incident is categorized as a mass shooting based purely on that numerical threshold.”
Written by Rebecca Edwards
Rebecca is the lead safety reporter and in-house expert for SafeWise.com. She has been a journalist and blogger for over 25 years, with a focus on home and community safety for the past six. Rebecca spends dozens of hours every month testing and evaluating security products and strategies. Her safety expertise is sought after by publications, broadcast journalists, non-profit organizations, podcasts, and more. You can find her work and contributions in places like TechCrunch, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, HGTV, MSN, and an ever-growing library of radio and TV clips. Learn more