In the Mountain State, 44% of State of Safety respondents said they feel high or very high concern about safety every day. That’s two percentage points below the national average of 46%, which was also the statewide level of concern last year.
West Virginia reported 300% more personal experiences with violent crime year over year.
The violent crime rate in West Virginia is 2.9 incidents per 1,000, compared to 3.7 across the country. 8% of survey respondents said they had a personal experience with violent crime in the past 12 months. That’s six percentage points higher than last year, but four points below the national average of 12%.
Experience with property crime increased by 12 percentage points this year, which puts West Virginia just over the national average of 26%. The state’s property crime rate of 14.9 is well below the nationwide rate of 22.0 incidents per 1,000. It’s also a decent decrease from last year, when West Virginia’s property crime rate was 17.9.
Violent Crime in West Virginia: Fear vs. Reality
West Virginians expressed the highest levels of concern about being robbed on the street. It’s also the violent crime they think is most likely to happen.
41% named being robbed on the street as the most concerning violent crime, compared to 38% nationwide.
32% said they think they’re most likely to fall victim to being robbed on the street. Nationally, 27% agreed.
There were six counts of robbery reported by the safest cities, making up 11% of all violent crime those cities reported. Statewide, robbery also made up 11% of all violent crime incidents reported.
Aggravated assault is the most prevalent violent crime in West Virginia, accounting for 75% of the state’s violent crime and 73% of violent crime among the safest cities.
Property Crime in West Virginia: Fear vs. Reality
Someone breaking in while the residents are away from home is the top property crime concern in West Virginia. It’s also the property crime that survey respondents felt was most likely to occur.
70% said a break-in when no one’s home is the property crime they fear the most, versus 62% across the US.
50% of survey participants feel that a break-in while they’re away from home is the most likely property crime that could happen. That’s 12 percentage points higher than the national average.
Burglary accounted for just 14% of all property crime reported by the safest cities and 20% of all property crime in West Virginia.
The most common property crime in West Virginia was larceny-theft, totalling 71% of the state’s property crime incidents and 81% of the property crimes reported by the safest cities.
Despite such high concern about break-ins, only 19% of West Virginia respondents have a home security system. The national average is 24%.
39% said they use a firearm to protect their property, which is 11 percentage points higher than the national average.
Only 22% use no form of protection or security on their property. That’s seven points lower than the nationwide average of 29%.
A Closer Look at West Virginia’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.
Weirton moved up 11 spaces to become West Virginia’s safest city.
Bridgeport had the biggest ascension, rising 20 places to be number five.
No cities on this year’s list dropped in rank from the previous year—they all climbed higher.
Ranson is brand new to the list this year, debuting at number three.
All cities came in under both state (2.9) and national (3.7) violent crime rates, with the highest rate being 2.8 per 1,000 in the newbie Ranson.
Every city reported 15 or fewer total violent crimes, but there were still two murders counted among the state’s five safest cities.
Surprisingly, only three of the safest cities did better than the state’s low property crime rate of 14.9, and only four out five beat the national rate of 22.0.
Two cities, Charles Town and Ranson, reported fewer than 40 total property crimes, the next closest city was Oak Hill with 147.
The 5 Safest Cities in West Virginia
VC = Violent Crime PC = Property Crime
VC Rate 2020, 2019, 20180.5, 1.1, 1.2
PC Rate 2020, 2019, 20189.0, 10.0, 11.0
VC Rate 2020, 2019, 20181.7, 0.7, 2.7
PC Rate 2020, 2019, 20186.1, 12.9, 23.4
VC Rate 2020, 2019, 20182.8, Not available, Not available
PC Rate 2020, 2019, 20185.1, Not available, Not available
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