To identify the locations where crimes were the most or least common, we turned to crime data from the FBI. Notably, these crime numbers are only an indication of the true level of criminal activity. Many components go into crime statistics including the public’s likelihood of reporting crime to the authorities, law enforcement investigations, and criminal justice policies.
A key part of keeping your neighborhood safe is identifying localized crime trends. Using criminal records data as indicators of local crime, let’s look at where crime is the most and least common.
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Across the nation, the average homicide rate is one murder per 18,732 people. Chandler, AZ, has a significantly lower rate of one murder per 132,961 people, ranking as the city in the country where you are least likely to be murdered.
On the other hand, St. Louis, MO, has the most homicides with one murder per 1,747 people. An analysis produced by the St. Louis Police Department shows that homicides in the city have strong racial divisions with black victims accounting for 92 percent of 2017 murders.
To further identify local trends, we looked at the use of guns as murder weapons.2 Illinois had the highest rate of guns being used as murder weapons at 85 percent. Wyoming had the fewest rate of murders using firearms, at 32 percent, with knives or cutting instruments being a more prevalent murder weapon in the state.
Lowest Percent of Murders Using Firearms2
- Wyoming 32%
- Alabama 33%
- South Dakota33%
- Idaho 36%
Highest Percent of Murders Using Firearms
- Illinois 85%
- Mississippi 83%
- Alaska 83%
- Indiana 82%
Including home robberies, on-street theft, business robberies, and more, the national average is one robbery per 973 people.
The city with the worst robbery rates is Baltimore, MD, with one robbery per 121 people. The Baltimore Sun reports that as of 2017, commercial robberies in the city have increased 88 percent within the past five years. On the other hand, the west coast city of Murrieta, CA, had the lowest robbery rate with one crime per 5,844 people.
While it’s easy to imagine the big scores that can be possible from high stakes robberies, an average bank robbery only results in $3,531 stolen. That’s more than the average taken during a gas station robbery ($970), but it’s much less than the bank robberies we see in the movies, such as when The Joker steals millions from the Gotham National Bank during a robbery.
The FBI defines aggravated assault as person-on-person attack with the purpose of causing severe bodily injury. Across the nation, the average rate of aggravated assault is one crime per 402 people. Irvine, CA, had the fewest aggravated assaults in the nation with one crime per 4,233 people.
The northern Illinois city of Rockford, IL, has the worst aggravated assault rate in the country with one assault per 83 people. There’s wide speculation regarding the reasons behind the city’s high crime rates, including gang activity, poverty, its location as a mid-point for drug trafficking, and even its reporting system. Yet, residents are taking action of their own with Lessons from Lawn Chairs neighborhood-watch type sit-ins.
Motivation is what distinguishes a hate crime from a traditional offense. The FBI clarifies that hate crimes result from “an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.”
The national average for hate crime reporting is one crime per 48,527 people. The state with the fewest reported hate crimes is Arkansas with one reported crime per 550,909 people.
Washington, D.C., is the worst location in the country with one reported crime per 10,342 people. Digging deeper into the stats of D.C. hate crimes, we learn that 61 percent of hate crimes are assaults.
Washington, D.C., Hate Crimes
- Assault – 39 percent
- Aggravated Assault – 22 percent
- Intimidation – 16 percent
- Damage/Vandalism – 11 percent
- Rape – 1 percent
According to the FBI rape data, the national average is one rape per 3,375 people. Yet, in Moreno Valley, CA, the data shows that the city has the best rates in the country with one reported rape per 10,854 people.
The city in the U.S. with the worst rape rates is surprisingly Anchorage, AK, with one reported rape per 601 people. The Atlantic explains the pervasive rape culture in Alaska, calling attention to the cycles of violence, among other influencing factors. According to the 2015 Alaska Victimization Survey, 33 percent of adult women in the state have experienced sexual violence in their lifetime and 40 percent have experienced intimate partner violence in their lifetime.
Whereas robbery is taking something of value, a burglary is the unlawful entry of a structure in order to steal or commit a felony. In the U.S., there is one burglary per every 213 people. The city with the highest burglary rate is Vallejo, CA, with one burglary per 51 people. The city with the lowest rate of burglary is Naperville, IL, with one crime per 1,130 people.
The majority of arsons, 46 percent, involve a structure such as a residence. Property such as crops, timber, and fences account for 29 percent of arsons, and 26 percent of arsons deal with mobile property.
The FBI notes that there are reporting limitations on arson crimes due to variances between agencies. However, during the analyzed period, Cincinnati, OH, has the most cases of arson and Elk Grove, CA, had the fewest cases.
Including the purchase and sale of persons as well as forced labor and other types of involuntary servitude, human trafficking is the third largest criminal activity in the world, according to the FBI. With interagency task forces and other collaborative efforts to combat this crime, more than 2,000 traffickers have been arrested in the past decade.
Investigations are initiated in several ways including citizen complaints to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline. While neighborhoods work together to prevent local crime, good community members are on the lookout to help the authorities catch rings of human traffickers.
Human trafficking is, by nature, a mobile crime that involves many locations. However, the top four states with the most offenses are Texas, Minnesota, Nevada, and Louisiana.
Unlike a robbery where an item is taken by force or coercion, a larceny or theft is taking items without this force. Examples include shoplifting, pickpocketing, or stolen bicycles.
The national average for larceny/theft is one crime per 57 people, but in Salt Lake City, UT, which has the worst rates in the country, the larceny/theft rate is one crime per 16 people. The city with the best larceny/theft rate is Rialto, CA, with one crime per 172 people.
Specifically regarding motor vehicle theft, the national average is one crime per 422 people. Oakland, CA, has the highest rate with one crime per 65 people, and Naperville, IL, has the lowest rate with one crime per 3,897 people.
As to the recovery of stolen objects, taken either through larceny or robbery, locally stolen motor vehicles are the most likely to be recovered at 58 percent, but jewelry is the least likely to be recovered at just 4 percent.
The total value of stolen goods2 can be quite significant. In one year, $22.7 million worth of livestock was stolen. For cargo thefts, the highest values of stolen property were in Texas ($15M), Tennessee ($5M), Florida ($3M), and Michigan ($1M).
The choice of weapons for a crime can be very telling of both the environment and culture of criminal activity.
For example, New Yorkers are more likely to be robbed by force than with weapons. The use of guns for a robbery in NY was 21 percent, but the national average is 40 percent. Yet, robbery in NY via strong-arm force was 59 percent, compared to the national average of 40 percent.
Another extreme weapon example is murders that occur using hands, fists, feet, or pushing. Whereas these murders only account for 6 percent across all states, New Hampshire has the highest rate of these types of murders at 38 percent.
FBI Field Offices with the Most Arrests2
There are 56 FBI field offices throughout the country, each covering a specific territory and working with local and regional partners.
In looking at the crimes that go beyond the ones mentioned above, these FBI field offices had the most arrests:
- Fraud – Miami and Oklahoma City (tie)
- Extortion/Blackmail – Boston
- Counterfeiting/Forgery – Denver
- Embezzlement – Houston
- Child Exploitation – Charlotte
- Drugs/Narcotics – Tampa