Over the last few years, West Virginia has been in the news a lot: the successful teacher strikes, a Democrat governor joining the Republican Party while in office, President Donald Trump speaking at the 2017 Boy Scout Jamboree, and, more recently, Governor Jim Justice’s signing of a controversial bill that allows people to keep firearms in a locked car on their employer’s property.

West Virginia has a long and proud history of gun ownership, with many residents saying that it’s part of the Mountain State’s heritage and culture. Others say the culture of gun ownership contributes to the state’s relatively high crime rate. And still others say it is the nationwide opioid crisis, which hit West Virginia especially hard, that is causing a rise in crime—and gun ownership is necessary to combat that.  

West Virginians aren’t waiting for a consensus on the causes, though—they are taking action now. From grassroots organizations to aggressive federal prosecution, West Virginia is doing a lot to increase safety.  One organization, Invest in Kids, helps prevent potential rising crime rates by ensuring resources for early childhood outreach programs aren’t cut. Thriving neighborhood watch associations in cities like Parkersburg are also part of the solution. And recently, the city of Huntington announced it’s tripling its number of federal prosecutors to curb drug-related crime.

Hopefully, these efforts will work for West Virginia, which has a violent crime rate 24% higher than the national average and a property crime rate 30% higher, according to the most recent FBI crime report. But many of West Virginia’s safest cities boast crime rates much lower than that—violent crime rates among these cities are less than half the national rate, on average. Despite some big-picture concerns, there are still many safe cities to call home in this picturesque Appalachian state.

For even more information and resources on staying safe, see our West Virginia Safety Directory, where you’ll find tips on emergency preparedness, crime prevention, and more.

The 20 Safest Cities in West Virginia

1. Weston

Population: 4,078
Violent crimes per 1,000: 0.49
Property crimes per 1,000: 1.96
Total crime: 25.00% violent, 75.00% property

2. Lewisburg

Population: 3,971
Violent crimes per 1,000: 0.50
Property crimes per 1,000: 26.95
Total crime: 1.87% violent, 98.13% property

3. Grafton

Population: 5,145
Violent crimes per 1,000: 0.58
Property crimes per 1,000: 0.97
Total crime: 60.00% violent, 40.00% property

4. Barboursville

Population: 4,091
Violent crimes per 1,000: 0.73
Property crimes per 1,000: 76.51
Total crime: 0.96% violent, 99.04% property

5. Ravenswood

Population: 3,837
Violent crimes per 1,000: 0.78
Property crimes per 1,000: 2.35
Total crime: 33.33% violent, 66.67% property

6. Weirton

Population: 19,067
Violent crimes per 1,000: 1.15
Property crimes per 1,000: 10.96
Total crime: 10.53% violent, 89.47% property

7. New Martinsville

Population: 5,190
Violent crimes per 1,000: 1.16
Property crimes per 1,000: 4.62
Total crime: 25.00% violent, 75.00% property

8. Buckhannon

Population: 5,662
Violent crimes per 1,000: 1.77
Property crimes per 1,000: 38.68
Total crime: 4.57% violent, 95.43% property

9. Point Pleasant

Population: 4,262
Violent crimes per 1,000: 1.88
Property crimes per 1,000: 16.89
Total crime: 11.11% violent, 88.89% property

10. Vienna

Population: 10,537
Violent crimes per 1,000: 1.90
Property crimes per 1,000: 42.42
Total crime: 4.47% violent, 95.53% property

11. Bridgeport

Population: 8,402
Violent crimes per 1,000: 1.90
Property crimes per 1,000: 26.07
Total crime: 7.31% violent, 92.69% property

12. Oak Hill

Population: 8,104
Violent crimes per 1,000: 2.10
Property crimes per 1,000: 35.66
Total crime: 5.88% violent, 94.12% property

13. Summersville

Population: 3,459
Violent crimes per 1,000: 2.31
Property crimes per 1,000: 37.00
Total crime: 6.25% violent, 93.75% property

14. Nitro

Population: 6,729
Violent crimes per 1,000: 2.53
Property crimes per 1,000: 43.54
Total crime: 5.80% violent, 94.20% property

15. Charles Town

Population: 6,030
Violent crimes per 1,000: 2.65
Property crimes per 1,000: 23.38
Total crime: 11.35% violent, 88.65% property

16. Morgantown

Population: 31,109
Violent crimes per 1,000: 2.86
Property crimes per 1,000: 21.67
Total crime: 13.20% violent, 86.80% property

17. Moundsville

Population: 8,644
Violent crimes per 1,000: 3.47
Property crimes per 1,000: 35.63
Total crime: 9.74% violent, 90.26% property

18. St. Albans

Population: 10,635
Violent crimes per 1,000: 3.48
Property crimes per 1,000: 45.70
Total crime: 7.61% violent, 92.39% property

19. Dunbar

Population: 7,612
Violent crimes per 1,000: 3.94
Property crimes per 1,000: 30.74
Total crime: 12.82% violent, 87.18% property

20. Fairmont

Population: 18,733
Violent crimes per 1,000: 4.22
Property crimes per 1,000: 17.56
Total crime: 24.01% violent, 75.99% property

How We Chose the Safest Cities in West Virginia

To identify the twenty safest cities in West Virginia, we reviewed the 2016 FBI crime report statistics and population data. Cities that fell below identified population thresholds or that failed to submit a complete crime report to the FBI were excluded from the ranking system.

Our evaluation is based on the number of reported violent crimes (aggravated assault, murder, rape,

and robbery) in each city. If there was a tie, we also factored in the number of property crimes (burglary, arson, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft). To level the playing field, we calculated the rate of crimes per 1,000 people in each city. This makes it easier to directly compare the likelihood of these crimes occurring in cities with vastly different populations.

Learn more about how we rank our Safest Cities Reports.

How to Make a Safe Home Anywhere

Wherever you live, feeling safe in your home can bring greater peace of mind and happiness. Whether your city made our list or not, we recommend adding extra security to your home with monitored security services provided by the nation’s leading home security providers.

To learn more about the home security options available to you, check out SafeWise’s picks for  Best Home Security Systems of 2018.

If you would like to contact a SafeWise Safest Cities Analyst, please email info@safewise.com.

Written by Laura E. Hilton

Laura is a writer, teacher, and mother based out of Utah. She is passionate about making and maintaining strong, safe, healthy communities. To learn more, visit her website at lauraehilton.com. Learn more

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