10 Most Dangerous Cities in the US | Cove Security
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10 Most Dangerous Cities in the US

What are the most dangerous cities in the United States? According to NeighborhoodScout, the top ten most dangerous cities are:

Detroit, MI Memphis, TN Birmingham, AL Baltimore, MD Flint, MI St. Louis, MO Danville, IL Saginaw, MI Anchorage, AK Camden, NJ

What Makes a City Dangerous?

Dangerous cities have high reports of property crime and violent crime. It's difficult to predict exactly why some areas have higher crime rates while others have fairly low crime rates. Some believe high poverty rates impact crime rates, while others believe that the median income in an area has a larger impact.

Five main factors contribute to an area's crime rate.

1. Violent Crime Rates

Violent crime includes murder, nonnegligent manslaughter, aggravated assault, forcible rape, and robbery. If convicted of a violent crime, the person will spend over five years in prison. Violent crime physically and emotionally scars the victims of the crime, often requiring the victim to spend years in therapy recovering from the effects of the crime.

On average, there are 382 violent crimes per 100,000 people in the United States. The FBI Crime Reports break down the United States' violent crime rate into four categories.

  • National murder rate: 5 murders per 100,000 people
  • National rape rate: 30 rapes for 100,000 people
  • National assault rate: 246 assaults per 100,000 people
  • National robbery rate: 86 robberies per 100,000 people

2. Property Crime Rates

Property crime includes burglary, theft, and car theft. Although property crimes can be stressful for the victims, the FBI doesn't consider them nearly as severe as violent crimes. The penalty for property crime conviction varies from several months in jail to several years.

On average, the FBI reports 2,199 property crimes per 100,000 people. There are three categories of property crime that affect an area's safety rankings.

  • National burglary rate: 376 burglaries per 100,000 people
  • National theft rate: 1,594 thefts per 100,000 people
  • National car theft rate: 228 car thefts per 100,000 people

3. Unemployment Rate

In many areas, high unemployment rates correspond to high crime rates. The US unemployment rate is constantly fluctuating due to politics, world affairs, and other uncontrollable world events. For example, the United States' unemployment rate spiked in April 2020 from 3.6 percent (in January 2020) to 16.7 percent. By October 2020, the unemployment rate dropped to 6.9 percent.

4. Poverty Rate

The Bureau of Justice Statistics published a report in 2014 that found connections between poverty rates and higher instances of violent crime. The report states, "Persons in poor households at or below the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) (39.8 per 1,000) had more than double the rate of violent victimization as persons in high-income households (16.9 per 1,000)." The average poverty rate in the United States is 9.2 percent.

5. Median Income

The median income of an area can influence crime rates. If the average household income is low, it's more likely that the area will have high crime rates. Low-income areas are more likely to see gun crime, motor vehicle theft, and robbery. The median income in the United States is $68,703 (as of 2019).

Top Ten Most Dangerous Cities in the US 2020

1. Detroit, MI

Detroit has earned a place as the most dangerous city in America for several years in a row. The city has high rates of gun violence, armed robbery, and homicide in the metropolitan area. The area has a population of 672,662 people with a one in 16 chance of becoming a victim of crime.

  • Violent crime rate in Detroit: 2,000 violent crimes per 100,000 people
  • Property crime rate in Detroit: 4,315 property crimes per 100,000 people
  • Unemployment rate in Detroit: 20% unemployed
  • Poverty rate in Detroit: 30.6% below poverty rate
  • Median income in Detroit: $29,481 per household

Those living in Detroit should take extra precautions to prevent crime in their neighborhoods. Follow basic safety procedures and avoid traveling alone at night, especially in high crime areas.

2. Memphis, TN

Memphis is the second most dangerous place to live in the United States. The area has a population of 650,618 people. Those living in Memphis have a one in 13 chance of becoming victims of violent crime or property crime. Every year, the local police report over 54,868 crimes.

  • Violent crime rate in Memphis: 1,901 violent crimes per 100,000 people
  • Property crime rate in Memphis: 6,128 property crimes per 100,000 people
  • Unemployment rate in Memphis: 16% unemployed
  • Poverty rate in Memphis: 21.7% below poverty rate
  • Median income in Memphis: $37,199 per household

Crime in Memphis is 223 percent higher than the national average and is safer than one percent of cities in the United States. Because of the city's high crime rates, local law enforcement suggests that homeowners and renters take precautions to keep their homes and families protected.

3. Birmingham, AL

Birmingham, Alabama, has a population of 209,808 people (as of the 2018 census). The area has an extremely high homicide rate, with 29 murders per 100,000 people (nearly six times higher than the national average).

  • Violent crime rate in Birmingham: 1,933 violent crimes per 100,000 people
  • Property crime rate in Birmingham: 6,540 property crimes per 100,000 people
  • Unemployment rate in Birmingham: 6.4% unemployed
  • Poverty rate in Birmingham: 28.1% below poverty line
  • Median income in Birmingham: $31,217 per household

Birmingham is not a safe place to live. However, not every street has high rates of crime. While living in Birmingham, it's important to stay aware of your surroundings and know which areas are safe and which are unsafe.

4. Baltimore, MD

Baltimore's violent crime rate is 390 percent higher than the national average, securing the city as the fourth most dangerous city in the United States. The area has a population of 602,495 people, and residents have a one in 17 chance of becoming a victim of crime.

  • Violent crime rate in Baltimore: 1,855 violent crimes per 100,000 people
  • Property crime rate in Baltimore: 4,582 property crimes per 100,000 people
  • Unemployment rate in Baltimore: 9.1% unemployed
  • Poverty rate in Baltimore: 23.1% below poverty line
  • Median income in Baltimore: $42,665 per household

The most common crime in Baltimore is theft, with 16,395 reported thefts per year. The second most common crime is burglary, with 5,414 burglaries per year. Both violent crime and property crime are common in Baltimore. Residents should use local crime maps to determine which areas are safe and which are dangerous.

5. Flint, MI

Flint is the fifth most dangerous city in the United States. The city has a population of 95,943 and residents have a one in 20 chance of experiencing crime. Although property crime in Flint is actually one percent lower than the national average, violent crime is 255 percent higher.

  • Violent crime rate in Flint: 1,284 violent crimes per 100,000 people
  • Property crime rate in Flint: 2,086 property crimes per 100,000 people
  • Unemployment rate in Flint: 9.4% unemployed
  • Poverty rate in Flint: 40.4% below poverty line
  • Median income in Flint: $27,717 per household

Property crime in Flint is less of a concern than violent crime. Those living in Flint, Michigan, should stay wary while traveling through the city. Residents should never walk alone at night and should carry a personal alarm.

6. St. Louis, MO

St. Louis has a population of 302,838 and is the sixth most dangerous city on our list. There are 23,732 total crimes reported each year and 226 percent more crime than the national average. The violent crime rate alone is 408 percent higher than the national average.

  • Violent crime rate in St. Louis: 1,927 violent crimes per 100,000 people
  • Property crime rate in St. Louis: 6,183 property crimes per 100,000 people
  • Unemployment rate in St. Louis: 4.9% unemployed
  • Poverty rate in St. Louis: 11.7% below poverty line
  • Median income in St. Louis: $66,417 per household

St. Louis has one of the highest homicide rates in the county, with 64.6 murders per 100,000 people. The murder rate is thirteen times higher than the national average. Residents should be wary of both violent crime and property crime while living in St. Louis.

7. Danville, IL

Danville ranks as the seventh most dangerous city in America. With a population of 30,898 people, the area sees uncommonly high crime rates for an area with a small population. The violent crime rate is 361 percent higher than the national average, and the property crime rate is 112 percent higher than the national average. Residents have a one in 17 chance of experiencing crime in Danville.

  • Violent crime rate in Danville: 1,749 violent crimes per 100,000 people
  • Property crime rate in Danville: 4,471 property crimes per 100,000 people
  • Unemployment rate in Danville:14.1 unemployed
  • Poverty rate in Danville: 30% below poverty line
  • Median income in Danville: $35,581 per household

Due to the small size of Danville, residents should be especially cautious about their personal safety. Stay away from areas where crime is common. If you live in a high crime area, take the necessary precautions to secure and protect your home and family.

8. Saginaw, MI

Saginaw is the eighth most dangerous city in the United States. The property crime rate in Saginaw is actually lower than the natural average by 27 percent. However, the violent crime rate is significantly higher than the national average, with 289 percent more crime.

  • Violent crime rate in Saginaw: 1,474 violent crimes per 100,000 people
  • Property crime rate in Saginaw: 1,549 property crimes per 100,000 people
  • Unemployment rate in Saginaw: 8.6% unemployed
  • Poverty rate in Saginaw: 34.5% below poverty line
  • Median income in Saginaw: $29,885 per household

Residents of Saginaw aren't likely to become the victims of burglary, theft, or car theft. There are fewer property crimes in Saginaw than in the average American city. On the other hand, violent crime is more likely. Residents should beware of violent crime and stay aware of their surroundings when traveling through this small city.

9. Anchorage, Alaska

The total crime in Anchorage, Alaska, is 121 percent higher than the national average. The violent crime rate alone is 228 percent higher than the national average. Anchorage, though fairly wealthy, has some of the highest crime rates in the country. Many attribute the high crime rates to the feeling of being out in the wilderness. Anchorage feels untouchable compared to less rural cities. Because of the feeling of wildness, Anchorage sees high rates of crime.

  • Violent crime rate in Anchorage: 1,245 violent crimes per 100,000 people
  • Property crime rate in Anchorage: 4,261 property crimes per 100,000 people
  • Unemployment rate in Anchorage: 5.3% unemployed
  • Poverty crime rate in Anchorage: 9.5% below poverty line
  • Median income in Anchorage: $83,648 per household

Anchorage has one of the highest rates of rape in the country, with 116 rapes for 100,000 people. Those who could become victims should stay constantly aware of their surroundings and carry personal protection (such as a personal alarm and pepper spray).

10. Camden, NJ

The odds of becoming a victim of either violent crime or property crime in Camden is one in 23. Camden records high rates of violent crime, which is 317 percent higher than the national average. Those living in Camden should stay away from high crime neighborhoods.

  • Violent crime rate in Camden: 1,582 violent crimes per 100,000 people
  • Property crime rate in Camden: 2,867 property crimes per 100,000 people
  • Unemployment rate in Camden: 6.8% unemployed
  • Poverty rate in Camden: 36.8% below poverty line
  • Median income in Camden:$27,070 per household

Camden is not a safe place to live. However, this doesn't mean that every street in Camden is dangerous. Residents need to check their local crime maps and stay up-to-date with the crime in their city.

How Can Residents Stay Safe in Dangerous Areas?

Millions of Americans live in cities dubbed "one of the most dangerous cities in America." However, simply because they live in a dangerous place doesn't mean that they will become a victim of a terrible crime. In fact, as long as residents take the necessary precautions, they can be as safe as someone living in Broadview Heights, OH. Here are three things residents can do today to make their city safer.

1. Install a Home Security System

The most important thing to do when living in a dangerous area is to install a simple home security system. By having a home security system, homeowners deter up to 80 percent of burglaries. Many studies show that home security systems are the most effective way to deter crime from your home (other than hiring a professional security guard to watch your front door).

2. Start a Neighborhood Watch

A neighborhood watch is a pact between those in your community to watch out for crime and to work directly with the police in your area. Neighborhood watches focus directly on common crimes in your area and help to prevent those crimes from happening. Starting a neighborhood watch also alerts potential criminals that the neighbors in that community are watching out for one another.

3. Carry a Personal Alarm and Pepper Spray

If you live in a dangerous area, you should avoid going out at night by yourself, regardless of your age, gender, or physical capabilities. If you do need to travel outside at night, it's important to carry a personal alarm and pepper spray. A personal alarm can be in the form of a small button that emits an ear-piercing alarm or in the form of a mobile app that immediately calls for help if you're in danger. Pepper spray is an important, non-lethal weapon that will give the victim enough time to escape and find help. Carrying both items will help victims stay prepared in dangerous situations.

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