The SafeWise Team is pleased to release the seventh annual Safest Cities report.
Virginia’s 20 Safest Cities of 2021
Here are the 10 safest cities in Virginia for 2021
6. Buena Vista
9. Manassas Park
See if your city made the full list.
Virginians are significantly more worried about crime and safety than most Americans, despite having crime rates that are well below both regional and national averages. And Virginia’s safest cities have even lower crime rates than the rest of the state—property crime is nearly cut in half in these 20 low-crime cities.
2021 Virginia crime rates
Virginia’s violent crime rate is the lowest of all states in the South Atlantic region. At 2.1 incidents per 1,000 people, Virginia’s violent crime rate is 43% lower than the national average of 3.7.
But there was a slight increase in the violent crime rate year over year—Virginia creeped up 5%, from 2.0 incidents last year to 2.1.
Property crime is also lower in Virginia, with only 16.4 incidents reported per 1,000 people, compared to 21.1 nationwide. Virginia holds the second-lowest property crime rate in the South Atlantic region, behind West Virginia with 15.8 incidents per 1,000 people.
This is the third consecutive year that Virginia’s property crime rate has fallen. The Old Dominion State went from 18.0 property crime incidents per 1,000 in 2019 to 16.7 in 2020 and 16.4 this year.
Level of concern and experience with crime in Virginia
Daily worry about crime and safety jumped 17 percentage points in Virginia this year. With 57% of survey respondents telling us they are highly concerned about safety every day, Virginia is the ninth-most-worried state.
That high level of concern is surprising given Virginia’s solid track record of low crime rates. Despite more daily concern about crime and safety, 78% of Virginians feel safe in their state, giving Virginia the third-highest positive response rate in the country.
There was a slight rise in violent crime this year, which coincides with more survey respondents telling us they’ve had a personal experience with violent crime in the past 12 months (7% this year versus 4% in 2020).
Both reported property crimes and personal experience with property crime fell year over year. Property crime experiences dropped five percentage points between 2020 and 2021. But package theft is an outlier, with 51% of Virginians worrying about falling victim to porch pirates. Just 18% of survey participants reported experiencing a package theft in the past year, below the national average of 20%.
Crime concerns in Virginia
We asked Virginians which crimes they worry may happen to them. See if Virginia 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 Virginia: Fear vs. reality
Virginia saw a small uptick in violent crime year over year, and personal experiences of violent crime also rose. But Virginia still boasts one of the lowest violent crime rates in the nation—coming in with the sixth-lowest statewide rate.
- Virginia has 1.6 fewer crime incidents per 1,000 people than the national average.
- Virginians are 12% more concerned about violent crime than the rest of the nation.
- Murder accounts for 2% of all violent crime in Virginia, compared to 1% nationwide. Among the safest cities, murder makes up only 0.5% of reported violent crimes.
- Aggravated assault makes up 62% of Virginia’s violent crimes, compared to 68% across the country.
- 33% of survey respondents use some form of personal protection like pepper spray (US 34%).
- 50% say their personal safety has been affected by the pandemic—6 percentage points higher than the national average of 44%.
Attitudes about police and gun violence in Virginia
- 57% said gun violence is the safety concern they worry about most on a daily basis (US 53%).
- 49% are most worried about a gun violence incident happening to them (US 38%).
- The number of respondents reporting a personal experience with gun violence increased by one percentage point year over year.
- Virginia saw 11 mass shooting incidents in 2020, one more than in 2019.
- In 2020 there were 54 officer-involved shootings in Virginia, an increase from 35 in 2019.
- 37% of survey respondents worry about police violence daily (US 40%) and 58% have confidence in law enforcement (US 56%).
Property crime in Virginia: Fear vs. reality
Property crime has been declining in Virginia for the past several years, but 46% of survey respondents still worry about it happening to them (US 42%). Reports of personal experience with property crime dropped by 24% year over year.
- Virginia reported 4.7 fewer property crime incidents per 1,000 people than the national average.
- Virginia sees a larger proportion of larceny-thefts (83%) than most of the US (73%).
- Burglaries are much less common in Virginia, making up just 10% of all property crime, compared to 16% nationwide. The safest cities do even better, with only 7% of all property crimes classified as burglaries.
- Package theft is the most-worried-about crime issue for Virginians.
- 64% use some form of property protection (US 62%) with security systems used most often.
- 37% say the security of their property has been affected by the pandemic (US 29%).
A closer look at the safest cities in Virginia
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.
- 71 cities met criteria to be considered for ranking.
- Broadway and Bridgewater remained in the top 2 spots (respectively) for the second year in a row—each city reported 0 violent crimes.
- Purcellville jumped 3 spots to claim the title of third-safest city in Virginia.
- 8 cities (40%) improved in ranking year over year, with Warrenton making the most impressive jump of 19 places to land at number 13.
- 4 cities (20%) fell in ranking year over year.
- The average violent crime rate among the safest cities is 1.1 incidents per 1,000 people, which is lower than state, regional, and national averages.
- 50% of the safest cities reported 10 or fewer violent crimes.
- 35% reported fewer than 50 property crimes, with Broadway and Buena Vista limiting property crime to fewer than 20 total incidents.
- The average property crime rate among the safest cities is 9.0 incidents per 1,000—a full 12 percentage points below the national average.
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
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.