How Safe Is Your City? Crime Hotspots in America's Largest Cities

ByAndre Pardillo
Edited byMegan Hull

Updated: May 22, 2024

ByAndre Pardillo
Edited byMegan Hull

Updated: May 22, 2024

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FBI data reveals that despite a 2% decrease in the national violent crime rate in 2022, property crimes went up during the same period. Notably, motor vehicle theft rates surged by over 10%. Incidents of larceny, which includes shoplifting, also saw a significant 7% increase.

To determine the most prevalent areas in the U.S. for specific crimes, MoneyGeek analyzed recent FBI crime data for 295 cities with populations over 100,000. We found that cities in the South and Midwest report some of the highest crime rates for violent crimes. Alternatively, Western cities experience the highest rates of property crimes, such as larceny, motor vehicle theft and burglary.

KEY FINDINGS:
  • Memphis, Tennessee, had the highest per capita rate of aggravated assault among medium to large cities in 2022, with 1,942 reported cases for every 100,000 people. Memphis also ranked in the worst five cities for robbery, larceny and motor vehicle theft.

  • The South and Midwest regions are home to four cities with the highest per capita robbery rates: Baltimore, Cleveland, Minneapolis and Memphis, Tennessee.

  • Salt Lake City had the highest larceny rate at 4,910 incidents per 100,000 residents, more than triple the national larceny rate of 1,402 incidents per capita.

  • Tacoma, Washington, had the highest motor vehicle theft rate at 2,694 incidents per capita, more than eight times higher than the national rate of 283.

Violent Crime Hotspots in Medium-to-Large Cities

The FBI defines violent crime as offenses involving force or threat of force. MoneyGeek’s analysis focused on the two most common types of violent crime: aggravated assault and robbery. Memphis, Tennessee, reported the highest per capita rate of aggravated assault, while Oakland, California, had the highest rate of robbery.

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High Crime Rates for Robbery and Aggravated Assault in Southern and Midwestern Cities

The South and Midwest regions of the U.S. are home to the cities with the worst robbery and aggravated assault rates. Memphis, Tennessee, holds the highest rate of aggravated assault — with 1,942 cases for every 100,000 people — while Detroit records 1,642, placing it firmly as the second-worst. Notably, these cities are among the largest by population, ranking No.28 and 29 in the U.S. The worst five cities also include Little Rock, Arkansas; Birmingham, Alabama; and Rockford, Illinois, each with over 1,100 aggravated assaults per 100,000 residents.

Oakland, California, had the highest robbery rate, with 639 incidents per 100,000 residents. Baltimore follows closely with 556. Other cities with high robbery rates include Cleveland, Minneapolis and Memphis, Tennessee — all recording over 370 incidents per 100,000 residents. These five cities also rank within the top 60 for population size in the U.S.

Five Cities With the Highest Rates of Robbery and Aggravated Assault
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Property Crime Hotspots Are Mostly in the West

The FBI categorizes burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft as property crimes. Incidents of theft involve taking money or property without using force or threatening the victim. Salt Lake City recorded the highest per capita rate for larceny; Tacoma, Washington, topped the list for vehicle theft, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, had the highest burglary rate. Of the 20 worst cities for property crime per capita, 14 are located in the West.

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Cities With the Highest Larceny Rates per Capita

Among cities with the highest per capita larceny offenses, Salt Lake City led with 4,910 per 100,000 residents, followed closely by Tacoma, Washington, with 4,758. San Francisco, Memphis, Tennessee, and Spokane, Washington, were also in the top five — each with larceny offenses exceeding 4,000 reports per 100,000 residents.

Cities With the Highest per Capita Larceny Rates
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Worst Cities for Motor Vehicle Theft

With 2,694 motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 residents and a total of 5,901 incidents, Tacoma, Washington, led the nation in vehicle theft rates. St. Louis ranked second with 2,550 thefts per 100,000 residents and 7,294 total incidents. Denver; Oakland, California; and Memphis, Tennessee, followed with rates above 1,747 thefts per 100,000 people.

Cities With the Highest per Capita Rates for Motor Vehicle Theft
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Burglary Hotspots in US Cities

The Western U.S. claims four out of the worst five cities for burglary, but the highest burglary rate was found in the South’s Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at 1,414 incidents per 100,000 residents. Seattle followed with 1,201, while Pueblo, Colorado; Kent, Washington; and Las Cruces, New Mexico, each had rates exceeding 1,113 per 100,000 people.

Cities With the Highest Burglary Rates per Capita
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SECURING YOUR FINANCES AGAINST CRIME

In 2022, the per capita cost of crime in U.S. cities reached $2,221. This figure climbed to $3,325 in larger cities with populations over 300,000, as reported in MoneyGeek’s safest cities study. A high-quality homeowners insurance policy can help you replace your property in the event of a burglary.

For those on a tight budget, affordable home insurance options are available. Residents of high-crime areas may face higher insurance rates, so estimating your potential costs with a home insurance cost calculator can help you anticipate what you’ll pay for a policy.

Methodology

To uncover the worst crime hotspots in the U.S., MoneyGeek analyzed 2022 FBI crime data for 295 cities, focusing on the most common types of violent and property crimes. Our analysis specifically targeted robbery and aggravated assault for violent crimes and burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft for property crimes. We also took into account the population of each city to calculate crime rates per 100,000 residents, excluding those from the analysis that didn’t meet this population threshold.

Full Dataset

Our data shows the most dangerous cities in the U.S. for different crimes, identifying hotspots for specific subtypes of both violent and property crime. The cities with the highest crime rates per 100,000 people are highlighted.

The data that informed our story can be found below. Each statistic represents the number of incidents of that crime per 100,000 people.

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About Andre Pardillo


Andre Pardillo headshot

Andre Pardillo is a data analyst with several years of experience in the investment industry. He has worked as a financial and advisory analyst for companies including Nasdaq and CTS Global, and has contributed to various data journalism projects, covering topics such as personal finance, mental health and human rights violations. Pardillo holds a bachelor’s degree in business management with a minor in economics from the Ateneo de Manila University.


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