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Best and Worst Cities for Crime


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Best and Worst Cities for Crime

Feeling safe and secure is especially important to Americans these days. Recent events remind us that the safety of our loved ones and the security of our property can't be taken for granted.

So what are America's best and worst cities for crime? Are there certain cities with an especially high rate of violent crime? Where do car thieves thrive? The research gurus at Sperling's BestPlaces have mined the recently released FBI Uniform Crime Reports to identify those U.S. cities with the highest and lowest rates of crime during 2002.

The FBI's Crime Index rate reflects the total number of offenses per 100,000 residents. According to the FBI, the national Crime Index rate for 2002 was 4,118. The Northeast region of the United States had the lowest Crime Index rate of the four regions, with 2,889 offenses per 100,000 residents. The next lowest region was the Midwest, with a rate of 3,883 offenses. The Western region followed with a rate of 4,418 offenses, while the Southern region showed the highest crime rate of 4,722 offenses.

Best Large Cities for Crime (More than 500,000 pop.)

New Jersey boasts three of the nation's safest and most secure cities.

1. Nassau-Suffolk, NY*

Nassau-Suffolk has the second-lowest overall crime rate in the nation, thanks to extremely low violent and property crime rates.

2. Middlesex-Somerset-Hunterdon, NJ

The Middlesex-Somerset-Hunterdon area has one of the lowest murder rates in the nation, in addition to a very low rate of larceny.

3. Ventura, CA

Ventura has a very low property crime rate and one of the lowest larceny rates in the country.

4. Monmouth-Ocean, NJ

Monmouth-Ocean has one of the lowest auto theft rates in the country and an overall low rate of property crime.

5. Bergen-Passaic, NJ

Bergen-Passaic has especially low rates of forcible rape and larceny.

Worst Large Cities for Crime

Although Arizona has two of the most crime-ridden cities in the nation, their violent crime rates are relatively low.

1. Tucson, AZ

Tucson has one of the highest property crime rates in the country, especially larceny. On the bright side, Tucson has a low murder rate.

2. Memphis, TN-AR-MS*

Residents of Memphis contend with the nation's second-highest violent crime rate. In addition, the rate of robbery and burglary are among the nation's highest.

3. Miami, FL

Miami's violent crime rate is the highest in the nation, with especially high incidences of robbery and assault. Thankfully, the murder rate is relatively low.

4. Phoenix-Mesa, AZ

Phoenix-Mesa has one of the highest rates of auto theft in the nation.

5. Little Rock-North Little Rock, AR

The Little Rock area has a high rate of property crime, especially larceny.

Best Medium Cities for Crime (200,000-500,000 pop.)

New England seems to be an especially safe and secure region.

1. Danbury, CT

Danbury has lowest overall crime rate in the nation, as well as the lowest property crime rate.

2. Stamford-Norwalk, CT

Second only to its neighbor Danbury, the Stamford-Norwalk area has one of the lowest property crime rates in the U.S.

3. Johnstown, PA

Johnstown has an especially low rate of property crime. The murder rate is a bit higher than one might expect but is still well below the U.S. average.

4. Dutchess County, NY

Dutchess County has a very low burglary rate, which helps contribute to low overall rate of property crime.

5. Portsmouth-Rochester, NH-ME

The Portsmouth-Rochester area has low rates of property and violent crime, but there is a significant rate of forcible rape.

Worst Medium Cities for Crime

The South seems to be particularly challenged with crime.

1. Myrtle Beach, SC

Myrtle Beach has the highest total rate of crime in the nation, due to a high rate of violent crime and the nation's highest rate of property crime. In particular, the rates of assault, burglary and larceny are particularly high.

2. Montgomery, AL

The murder rate is significantly high in Montgomery, as are the rates of robbery, burglary and larceny.

3. Laredo, TX

While the larceny rate is high in Laredo, residents can take comfort in the relatively low rates of murder and forcible rape.

4. Waco, TX

Like Laredo, violent crime is less of a concern in Waco than property crime. In particular, burglary and larceny are a problem.

5. Wilmington, NC

Wilmington has the second-highest rate of burglary in the country. On the other hand, the rates of forcible rape and assault are low.

Best Small Cities for Crime (Less than 200,000 pop.)

1. State College, PA

State College has low crime rates across the board. In particular, the burglary and auto theft rates are among the nation's lowest.

2. Steubenville-Weirton, OH-WV

Property crime is especially low in the Steubenville-Weirton area, especially the rate of larceny.

3. Wheeling, WV-OH*

While property crime is extremely low in Wheeling, the rates of murder and assault are a bit higher than might be expected.

4. Pittsfield, MA*

Pittsfield has not only one of the lowest murder rates in the nation, but also an exceptionally low rate of larceny. However, the rate of forcible rape is significant.

5. Wausau, WI

Like Pittsfield, Wausau's rates of murder and larceny are among the nation's lowest. The violent crime rates are also low.

Worst Small Cities for Crime

1. Topeka, KS

Topeka has the highest rate of property crime among cities with fewer than 200,000 residents. The rates of larceny and robbery are especially high.

2. Pine Bluff, AR

Pine Bluff has a high rate of murder and the ninth-highest rate of robbery in the nation.

3. Monroe, LA*

Monroe suffers from significant property and violent crime, especially assault and larceny.

4. Alexandria, LA

Alexandria has the fourth-highest violent crime rate in the nation. Murder and assault are a problem, in particular, but the rate of forcible rape is low.

5. Florence, SC

Assault and larceny rates are high in Florence, but the murder rate is low.


The FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting Program Crime Index was used for this study. This index consists of the combined rate of murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, assault, burglary, larceny and auto theft per 100,000 population. This study considered 331 United States Metropolitan Statistical Areas. The data was taken from the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting Program report for 2002.

*The following cities did not report crime statistics to the FBI in 2002, so 2002 rates were estimated based on previous years' local statistics and current year's city, state and county data: Nassau-Suffolk, NY; Memphis, TN; Monroe, LA; Wheeling, WV-OH; Pittsfield, MA.

To view the complete findings and crime rates for all 331 metro areas, visit Sperling's BestPlaces.net website at www.bestplaces.net/2002crime.html

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