Tennessee reported much higher levels of concern about safety than the rest of the country. Higher crime rates across the state may contribute to excess worry. The good news is the state’s 20 safest cities beat both state and national crime rates.
Tennessee’s level of concern about safety is 33% higher than the national average in our 2020 State of Safety survey, and it increased by 15% year over year. Personal experience with crime also increased, but both property and violent crime rates went down this year.
Break-ins are the top property crime fear in Tennessee, and more people use security systems here than in other states.
Tennessee’s violent crime rate is 6.2 incidents per 1,000 people, which is down from 6.6 last year but higher than the national rate of 3.7. Reports of personal experience with violent crime went up, growing from 14% to 17% this year.
The property crime rate is 28.3 incidents per 1,000. That’s a decrease from last year’s rate of 29.5, but it’s still above the nationwide rate of 22.0. Tennessee also reported more personal experiences with property crime this year, increasing from 16% to 29%.
Violent Crime in Tennessee: Fear vs. Reality
Being physically assaulted by a stranger is the top violent crime concern in the Volunteer State. Being robbed on the street is the crime people think is the most likely to happen.
57% expressed the highest concern about physical assault by a stranger. That’s 17 percentage points higher than the national average of 40%.
Aggravated assault is the most prevalent violent crime in Tennessee, comprising 77% of the incidents reported in the safest cities and 75% statewide.
33% selected being robbed on the street as the violent crime they think is most likely to actually happen, versus 27% nationwide.
Robbery accounted for just 8% of all violent crime in the safest cities and 17% across the state.
Property Crime in Tennessee: Fear vs. Reality
Having property stolen is the property crime Tennessee survey participants felt was most likely to happen, but they worry more about someone breaking in when no one’s at home.
70% reported high concern about a break-in when no one is home. That’s eight percentage points higher than the national average of 62%.
Burglary made up just 10% of all property crime reported by the safest cities and 17% of all property crime in Tennessee.
51% indicated that the most likely property crime is having property stolen, compared to just 36% nationwide.
Larceny-theft is the most common property crime in Tennessee, totalling 72% of the state’s property crimes and 84% of the property crimes reported by the safest cities.
Security systems tied with guard animals as the security measure used most often to protect property in Tennessee, with 37% of respondents using them.
23% said they don’t use anything to add extra security to their property, compared to 29% nationwide.
A Closer Look at Tennessee’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.
Fourteen cities (70%) improved their ranking year over year, with Tiptonville making the biggest leap—29 spots from number 40 to 11.
Six cities (30%) fell in rank but stayed in the top 20, including last year’s number one, Belle Meade, which held the top spot in 2018 and 2019.
Tennessee’s safest cities all had lower violent crime rates than both state (6.2) and national (3.7) rates.
60% of the cities limited violent crime to less than one incident per 1,000, with Coopertown boasting the lowest violent crime rate, 0.2.
Nine cities reported five or fewer total violent crimes, and 13 stayed under 10.
The safest cities all came in under both state (28.3) and national (22.0) property crime rates, and no city reported more than 16.8 incidents per 1,000. That’s more than five points below the national property crime rate.
Church Hill reported the lowest property crime rate at 2.7 incidents per 1,000, followed by Whiteville with 4.2 and Signal Mountain with 4.3.
Half of the cities reported fewer than 50 total property crimes.
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