The SafeWise team is pleased to release the ninth annual Safest Cities report.
West Virginia’s 5 Safest Cities of 2023
Here are the 5 Safest Cities in West Virginia for 2023
See if your city made the full list.
According to our 2023 State of Safety report, West Virginia’s daily level of concern about crime and safety is 7% higher than the national average. Still, West Virginians have crime rates just below national rates, and its safest cities have remarkably low numbers of reported crimes.
In this report
2023 West Virginia crime rates
West Virginia's violent crime rate rose slightly this year, but remained at 3.6 incidents per 1,000 people overall. Property crime rates in The Mountain State increased by almost 29% more than in any other state—moving up from 14.0 incidents per 1,000 people to 18.0.
Within the South Atlantic region, West Virginia has the second-lowest violent crime rate behind Virginia (2.3). West Virginia ranks third-lowest in the region for the property crime rate, just behind Virginia (14.8) and Georgia (17.5). Two of the eight states in this region didn't meet state reporting requirements this year: Florida and Maryland.
West Virginia boasts lower crime rates than the nation at large. Among the 41 states that met reporting requirements this year, West Virginia has the nineteenth-highest violent crime rate and the nineteenth-lowest property crime rate.
Violent crime in West Virginia: Fear vs. reality
There were more violent crimes reported in West Virginia year over year and 48% of survey respondents say they worry about violent crime happening to them—about as much the average American.
- West Virginia’s violent crime rate of 3.6 is 9% below the national rate of 4.0 incidents per 1,000.
- Aggravated assault is the most prevalent violent crime in West Virginia, making up 74% of all reported incidents—2 percentage points higher than the proportion nationwide.
- Robberies make up a surprisingly small portion of violent crimes in West Virginia at just 4% (US 15%). This is lower than every other state except Alaska.
- Rape is more common in West Virginia’s safest cities (25%) than in the rest of the state (20%) and country (US 11%).
- Each of the safest cities reported 17 or fewer total violent crimes.
Attitudes about personal safety in West Virginia
- 46% of survey participants use some kind of personal protection like a stun gun or pepper spray, compared to 39% nationally.
- The most popular type of personal protection used by West Virginia respondents this survey year was a concealed firearm (57%)—higher than the national average (US 41%).
- 54% say their personal safety has been affected by the pandemic (US 44%).
Attitudes about gun violence in West Virginia
- 41% said gun violence is the safety concern they worry about most on a daily basis (US 47%).
- The number of respondents with a personal gun violence experience (13%) more than tripled since the previous survey year (US 12%).
- West Virginia saw 0 mass shooting incidents in 2022, down from 1 in 2021.
- For every police officer killed or injured by a gun in West Virginia in 2022, 6.3 suspects experienced the same.
- There were 14 self-defense shooting incidents in West Virginia in 2022—6 more than the previous year.
Property crime in West Virginia: Fear vs. reality
West Virginians worry more about property crime than the rest of the country and they’re more proactive when it comes to protecting their property. The number of survey respondents who use some kind of security measure is 4% higher than the national average (79% versus 76% across the US).
- 54% of West Virginians report feeling safe in their home state (US 50%).
- 39% of respondents said they had a personal experience with property crime in the 12 months prior to the survey (US 27%)—only Louisiana reported more experiences.
- Burglaries account for 16% of all property crimes statewide, compared to 14% nationwide.
- 3 of the safest cities (6 cities statewide) reported 0 burglaries or motor vehicle thefts this year.
- West Virginia reports fewer car thefts (9% of statewide property crime) than most of the US (14%).
Attitudes about property security in West Virginia
- 79% of survey respondents use some form of property protection (US 76%) with firearms on top, accounting for 50% of all security measures used.
- 41% of West Virginians said they added or increased security measures in the 12 months prior to the survey (US 35%).
- 41% say the security of their property has been affected by the pandemic (US 28%)—this is the second highest in the country behind Georgia.
Attitudes about package theft in West Virginia
- 32% of survey respondents in West Virginia reported experiencing package theft in the 12 months prior to the survey (US 34%).
- 48% of participants expressed a high level of concern about package theft (US 53%).
- The preferred methods of package protection in West Virginia are verified delivery (30%) and video doorbells (23%).
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A closer look at the safest cities in West 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.
- 20 cities met criteria to be considered for ranking.
- Oak Hill is the safest city in West Virginia for the second consecutive year, reporting a grand total of just 18 crimes.
- Buckhannon (ranked 3) is new to the ranking this year.
- Weirton, the number 2 city, is the most populous on the list (population 17,911)—it reported lower crime rates than cities with less than half the population.
Violent crime in West Virginia's safest cities
- The violent crime rate in the safest cities is 1 incident per 1,000 people, 71% lower than the state rate (3.6).
- Each of the safest cities had fewer than 17 violent crimes this year, with 3 reporting single-digit totals: Buckhannon, Oak Hill, and Charles Town.
- Buckhannon (3) has the lowest violent crime rate in the state—it reported 1 violent crime for a rate of 0.2 incidents per 1,000 people.
Property crime in West Virginia's safest cities
- The property crime rate in the safest cities is 6.1 incidents per 1,000 people, 66% lower than the state rate (18.0).
- Oak Hill has the lowest property crime rate in safest cities, but the lowest property crime rate in the state belongs to Bluefield, rank 13, at 0.7 incidents per 1,000 residents. It didn't make our top 5 because it has the highest violent crime rate of any city that qualified for ranking.
- 3 of the safest cities reported 0 burglaries or motor vehicle thefts this year: Oak Hill, Weirton, and Buckhannon.
How to make a safe home anywhere
Whether your city made our list or not, we encourage everyone to be proactive about home security. One of the best ways to stop a burglary before it happens is to add a home security system.
Find security and safety resources in your area
Didn't find your city?
We calculated crime rates for every city in the state that met our population threshold, based on the state’s median population as calculated using FBI data. To request a report of the remaining cities in your state email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: Safest Cities Full Report.
NOTE: If your city is missing from our full report, it means that it was below the population threshold or didn’t submit a complete crime report to the FBI in 2021.
Related articles on SafeWise
Endnotes and sources
FBI Crime Data Explorer, "Documents & Downloads." Accessed February 6, 2023.
- 2021 and 2020 Crime in the United States Annual Reports
- Offenses Known to Law Enforcement
- 2021 NIBRS Estimation Tables
FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Program, "Offenses Known to Law Enforcement ." Accessed February 6, 2023.
Bureau of Justice Statistics, "National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS)." Accessed February 6, 2023.
US Census Bureau, "2021: ACS 5-Year Estimates Subject Tables." Accessed February 6, 2023.
US Census Bureau, "2021: ACS 5-Year Estimates Detailed Tables." Accessed February 6, 2023.
SafeWise, "2022 State of Safety survey." Accessed February 6, 2023.
Gun Violence Archive, "General Methodology." Accessed February 6, 2023.
Gun Violence Archive, "Past Summary Ledgers." Accessed January 3, 2023.
Gun Violence Archive, "Congress."
- 2022 totals: Accessed January 3, 2023.
- 2021 and 2020 totals: Accessed December 19, 2022.