When it comes to travel, one of the most important things to consider is safety. Most people would assume safety is something they have to worry about when traveling to other countries where they don’t speak the same language or are unfamiliar with the culture, and while that is true, there is also a risk of danger even closer to home. You might be surprised to learn there are many cities within the United States that aren’t exactly all peaches and cream. You wouldn’t want to walk around alone at night or wander aimlessly as a tourist in any of the following cities on this list because they’re considered to be the most dangerous in America.
This list was created based off information from the FBI’s crime statistics which were gathered from US cities with a population over 100,000 between January 2017 and June 2017. The data looks specifically at the amount of violent crimes in a city which includes rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. It’s important to note that the data used to create this Uniform Crime Report is collected voluntarily by police forces in cities across the country and not every city or state chooses to participate, so this list doesn’t necessarily give the full picture. However, it does give a big picture look at some of the more dangerous cities which can be helpful for people who are planning their next big city vacation in 2019.
Here’s a look at some of the most dangerous cities in the U.S. in 2019…
25. Lansing, Michigan
First up on this list is the capital of Michigan, Lansing. Business Insider reported that this city experienced 52.2 violent crimes per 10,000 residents which converts to about 14 homicides in the year 2017. Unfortunately, unlike most cities where crime rates are going down, this was the highest it had been in the previous five years.
In 2017 the poverty rate was 29.5-percent and the unemployment rate sat at about 6.3-percent. Police Chief Mike Yankowski told the Lansing State Journal that their high crime rates were due to domestic violence and mental illness.
24. Minneapolis, Minnesota
Minneapolis is best known for being a very diverse and artsy city, but now it’s also known as one of the most dangerous cities in the U.S. When considering a trip to this city in 2019, just remember that it didn’t fare so well in 2017. Only two years ago the violent crime rates were pretty high in Minneapolis with a rate of about 53.7 per 10,000 residents, according to Business Insider.
USA Today translates this violent crime rate to 1,101 per 100,000 residents with a grand total of 42 homicides in 2017. The poverty rate was 21.3-percent and the unemployment rate was 3.1-percent.
23. New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans is actually a pretty popular tourist hotspot, mainly because if its vibrant music scene, rich history, and round the clock party atmosphere. However what many people don’t often talk about is the fact that it’s actually quite dangerous, statistically. Business Insider writes that this city had 56.1 violent crimes per 10,000 residents in 2017 and 24/7 Wall St. notes that the city has some of the highest murder rates.
USA Today writes that in 2017 this touristy city had a violent crime rate of 1,121 per 100,000 residents and 157 homicides. The poverty rate here was 26.2-percent with an unemployment rate of 5.1-percent. Luckily mayor LaToya Cantrell has vowed to do something about it with a new program called Cure Violence.
22. Newark, New Jersey
You’d think we’d see New York City on here ahead of one in New Jersey, but surprisingly, Newark is more prone to violence than the big apple (at least when population is factored in). In fact New York City is actually one of the safest big cities in the country. Not too far away is the city of Newark, New Jersey, one of the most dangerous cities in America. Business Insider writes that Newark had 42.8 violent crimes per 10,000 residents in 2017.
In 2016 there were 36 murders per 100,000 Newark residents which was about three times higher than any other city in New Jersey and the fifth highest in the country, at the time. One of the biggest factors in this city is unemployment. Cities with high unemployment rates tend to have more crime and Newark had an unemployment rate of about 8-percent which is about 5-percent higher than the national average. The poverty rate in 2016 was 29.7-percent which is also 15.5-percent higher than the national average. Not surprisingly, most of the crime takes place in the cities poorest areas, writes 24/7 Wall St. A report by the Safer Newark Council found that most of the violent crime occurred in only about 20-percent of the city streets, primarily in the West and South Wards. The report also said most of the homicide in the city is drug and gang related.
21. San Bernardino, California
In addition to being known as the site for the world’s first McDonald’s and the largest outdoor amphitheater in the United States, San Bernardino also has a reputation for being one of the most dangerous cities in the country (according to 2017 statistics) and the largest city to file for protection under Chapter 9 of the U.S. Bankruptcy code. This bankruptcy plays a huge role in the crime rate of this city because there have been major cutbacks to the police force.
In 2017 there were 1,291 violent crimes reported which includes murder, rapes, robberies, and aggravated assaults. This is the 15th highest in the entire country. USA Today reports that in 2017 San Bernardino had a violent crime rate of 1,291 per 100,000 residents, there were 34 homicides, and the city experienced a poverty rate of 32.3-percent with an unemployment rate of 6.3-percent.
20. Indianapolis, Indiana
When planning a trip in 2019, keep in mind that Indianapolis had a violent crime rate of 1,334 per 100,000 residents in 2017 which was one of the worst years this city has ever seen. As Indiana’s capital city, Indianapolis, sometimes referred to as ‘Indy’ is densely populated with an estimated population of about 863,002. On Dec. 28, 2017 Fox 59 reported there were 156 homicides in this city. This goes alongside a poverty rate of 20.9-percent and an unemployment rate of 3.6-percent. According to the FBI Uniform Crime Report, the violent crime rate in Indianapolis in 2017 was about 1,334 crimes per 100,000 residents.
19. Stockton, California
California is an extremely popular vacation spot, but it’s also an extremely big state with lots of cities, some nicer than others. We’re sure Stockton would be a lovely place to visit in 2019, but we think tourists should be wary about the unusually high crime rate here, especially in 2019 considering it wasn’t that long ago that the country claimed bankruptcy and landed on many lists as one of the U.S. cities with the highest crime rates. According to 2017 reports, this city had 68.8 violent crimes per 10,000 residents.
The city claimed bankruptcy back in 2012 making it one of the most populous cities to do so. The lack of funding could possibly affecting their ability to fight crime by limiting the amount of resources available. The violent crime rate in 2017 was 1,415 per 100,000 residents with a total of 55 homicides. The unemployment rate was 8-percent, which is among the highest in the country, and the poverty rate was 23.7-percent.
18. Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Milwaukee is the largest city in Wisconsin. It’s a beautiful city that has a stunning waterfront along Lake Michigan. To a lot of tourists, this city is known for its cultural events and festivals and for those who live here, it’s a great city that has tons of stuff to do and a booming economy with several universities and Fortune 500 companies, but there is one major thing to be wary about when traveling to this city. It’s has high crime rates. In fact, according to crime reports presented by the FBI for the year 2017, Milwaukee had a violent crime rate of 1,597 per 100,000. This ranks as the seventh highest in the entire country and means that for every 10,000 residents in Milwaukee there were 75.6 violent crimes in 2017.
USA Today takes a deeper look and reports that there were 118 homicides in this city in 2017, along with a poverty rate of 28.4-percent and an unemployment rate of 4.6-percent. Luckily, the amount of homicides is actually going down. In 2016 it was 141 which is slightly higher than 2017. It seems the Milwaukee Police Department are working hard to lower these numbers by focusing their attention on a two-mile section, where most of these crimes occur.
17. Kansas City, Missouri
We’re not in Kansas anymore Toto! Okay, so it’s not the same Kansas as Wizard of Oz, but close enough. Turns out the state of Missouri is much more dangerous than the state of Kansas, specifically Kansas City (and St. Louis, but more on that later on). You might be wondering what this city is doing on this list considering it was just praised for doing such a good job bringing their homicide rate down. Unfortunately, it was short lived and it’s once again on the rise again. Be wary of this when planning a trip in 2019.
USA Today crunched the numbers from 2017 and found that Kansas City had a violent crime rate of 1,724 per 100,000 residents. There were 150 homicides which is up from the 129 in 2016. In addition to that, the unemployment rate was 4.3-percent and the poverty rate sat at about 18.3-percent.
16. Rockford, Illinois
You might not have ever heard of Rockford Illinois, but it’s actually the third largest city in Illinois and surprisingly, one of the most violent. While it’s not nearly as bad as Chicago and the number of homicides was actually quite low in 2017. There were only 18 murders reported that year. Rockford is still no walk in the park in terms of safety because homicide is not their biggest problem. According to data collected from 2017, Rockford had 78 violent crimes per 10,000 residents. There were 1,773 aggravated assault cases reported in 2017 which is a lot more than many other cities with the same population. For example, Naperville, Illinois has an even bigger population than Rockford and it’s reported cases of aggravated assault were only 80.
USA Today reports there was a violent crime rate of 1,588 per 100,000 residents and lists an unemployment rate of 7.5-percent and a poverty rate of 22.7-percent. Luckily, this city isn’t exactly a hot tourist spot, especially considering it’s in the same state of Chicago which is one of the most visited cities in the country, so Rockford often gets overlooked.
15. Birmingham, Alabama
Located in the South, Birmingham is the most populous city in Alabama and is often associated as being part of the “deep south.” Sadly, in addition to its southern roots, this city lands in the top 5 on Business Insider’s list of the most violent cities in the U.S., as well as Forbes top 5. Business Insider writes that Birmingham, Alabama had 86.1 violent crimes per 10,000 residents in 2017 and Forbes writes that there were 1,483 violent crimes per 100,000 residents.
If we wanted to look on the bright side of all this, Birmingham is actually making progress despite the fact that it’s still quite dangerous. The crime here is down 40-percent from what it was in the mid-1990s. Forbes writes that according to the U.S. Census Department, much of the crime in this city is due to the high drug trade and the high poverty rate. The poverty rate in Birmingham is 26-percent. This is quite a lot considering the state average is 17-percent.
14. Nashville, Tennessee
There’s no denying that Nashville is having a bit of a moment in terms of tourism. In the past few years this city has been crawling with tourists between the months of May and September. What most people probably don’t realize is that this city is actually statistically one of the more dangerous cities in the country.
In the year 2017 there were 110 homicides in the Nashville metropolitan area. Also, the crime rate was 1,138 per 100,000 residents and the poverty rate sat at about 18-percent. The murder rate in this city is so bad that the Oasis Center of Nashville which works to help at risk youth in the area called it an epidemic, according to 24/7 Wall St. Outsiders traveling in probably didn’t hear about the high homicide rate in this city because Metro Police spokeswoman Kristin Mumford told Nashville News4 that most of these homicides were between people who knew each other and were engaged in “risky behavior.”
13. Cleveland, Ohio
For the past several years, Cleveland has been considered one of the most dangerous cities in the U.S. based on national crime rankings. Cleveland is the second largest city in Ohio which means it also has a large population. Unfortunately, a good chunk of this population lives in poverty and is unemployed. The city has some of the highest rates of unemployment in the country. In 2017 the unemployment rate sat at 7.4-percent and the poverty rate was 36-percent.
Not surprisingly, these numbers contribute to the higher violent crime rates. In 2017, Cleveland experienced 107 homicides and nearly 6,000 violent crimes were reported. The violent crime rate was calculated to be 69.2 violent crimes per 10,000 residents or 1,557 per 100,000 residents. While it’s still considered to be a great city to visit (I mean, it is the home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame), but travellers should just be wary of the high crime rate in this city when traveling here in 2019, and practice common sense.
12. Detroit, Michigan
It might not be too surprising to see this city on the list. Detroit has a reputation for being a bit of an urban graveyard with thousands of empty buildings, a massive population decline, and a high poverty rate. In 2017 the city’s poverty rate sat at a whopping 39-percent with an unemployment rate of 9.3-percent. Not surprisingly, these traits all contribute to a high crime rate.
A closer look at Detroit’s violent crime rate in 2017 showed that there were 2,057 per 100,000 residents and 267 homicides.
11. Chicago, Illinois
Chicago has a notorious reputation when it comes to crime, but it’s actually not as bad as some smaller cities on this list like New Orleans, Newark, and Detroit. Chicago is the third largest city in the country and while it does have a higher murder rate than the two larger cities, Los Angeles and New York City, it’s still not the most dangerous city in the country. The latest data from 2017 shows that the murder rate in Chicago was 24 per 100,000 residents. That same year 650 people were murdered in this city, down from 771 in 2016, which isn’t hard considering it was the deadliest year the city had seen in decades.
Despite the higher risk of danger in this city, it doesn’t seem to deter tourists at all. In 2017 it was the second most visited city in the United States with 55 million visitors, right behind New York City which had 65 million visitors.
10. Anchorage, Alaska
Tourism is actually a big part of Alaska’s economy, so it does get a lot of visitors throughout the year, but it also has a pretty high crime rate. This is mainly due to the fact that it is such a large state. It is the largest state, the 3rd least populous and the most sparsely populated state in America. This probably plays a big role in why Alaska has higher crime rates because the police are unable to get to a crime scene as quickly as they would in a more densely populated city. This also affects their ability to solve a lot of crimes. In 2017, Anchorage had 57.1 violent crimes per 10,000 residents.
Road Snacks writes that Anchorage ranked as the 16th most dangerous city in terms of violent crimes in 2017 with 1,203 per 100,000 residents and the 25th most dangerous for property crimes with a rate of 5,415 per 100,000 residents. 24/7 Wall St. writes that many experts blame drug and gang violence for these high crime rates and that more drug addiction and mental health treatment centers are needed in the city.
9. Baltimore, Maryland
Baltimore is no joke when it comes to violent crime. In fact, there’s a reason HBO chose Baltimore, Maryland as the set for the American crime drama series The Wire. This show was supposed to depict a fictionalized version of the real crime issues in this city. So what are the real crime issues in Baltimore? Well for starters, this city has the third highest rate of violent crimes per 100,000 people. In 2017 there were 8,879 robberies reported which means the rate per 100,000 is 959 or 2,027 to 100,000 residents. To give a little perspective, this is nearly 10 times higher than the national robbery rate and the highest in any other major U.S. city. There were also 342 homicides in 2017 and a poverty rate of 23.1-percent. On a smaller scale, Business Insider found that Baltimore had 98.6 violent crimes per 10,000 residents in 2017.
USA Today reiterates this with a look at the violent crime rate per 100,000 residents which is 2,027. It also lists 2017 as having 342 homicides – that is pretty darn close to one every single day. This city also held a poverty rate of 23.1-percent and an unemployment rate of 6.1-percent.
8. Pueblo, Colorado
When we think of Colorado we usually think of Rocky Mountains and a ski vacation getaway, but that’s not what Pueblo is known for. This city saw 48.9 violent crimes per 10,000 residents in 2017. What’s impressive is that this city is actually the smallest city on this list, but yet it still ranks pretty high up. It only just clocks over 100,000 people. While it may be smaller than some of the other cities on this list, it ranks in the eight spot for worst property crime rate with the majority of them being burglaries. Road Snacks reports there being 1,052 violent crimes per 100,000 people and 6,167 property crimes per 100,000 people.
7. Chattanooga, Tennessee
Tennessee is a popular tourist destination because of Nashville, also known as ‘Music City,’ which also landed on this list. In addition to Nashville, the lesser known city of Chattanooga is another dangerous city to visit. It has the same kind of feel as Memphis and Nashville, but just not as touristy, and for good reason. It is one of the worst cities in America for property crime. It lands in the number 10 spot for property crime with 5,985 per 100,000 residents and is the 23rd most dangerous for violent crimes with 1,065 per 100,000 residents.
In 2017, there were 31 homicides. In most American cities the number of crime goes down each year, but for Chattanooga, the number of homicides in 2017 was at a record high. Local police said the major thing that did go down in 2017 was gang violence, writes 24/7 Wall St. In 2016 there were 132 shooting incidents, most of which were a result of a bloody gang war. While gang violence in this city is on the decline, the violent crime rate is on the rise. It was 1,023 per 100,000 in 2016, and in 2017 it rose to 1,066 per 100,000.
6. Oakland, California
Despite the high crime rates in this city, it’s actually become a desirable place to live and that’s because it’s so much cheaper than San Fransisco. Even though Oakland’s property prices are cheaper, there may be a price for safety. San Francisco ranks over 30 spots higher on the list of safe cities over Oakland. Now it’s not all doom and gloom for this city. To be fair their crime rates have actually been improving the past few years. It wasn’t that long ago that Oakland was known for having high rates of homicides, rapes, and aggravated assaults. According to 24.7 Wall St., the crime in this area skyrocketed after the recession, then went down, only to go back up again in 2012. Luckily it’s now on the decline again, but it’s still higher than most would like.
According to Road Snacks, “Oakland has the 10th highest violent crime rank in the country and the fifteenth highest property crime rate.” Yikes! In 2017 the violent crime rate was 1,299 per 100,000 residents and 69 homicides. The city had an unemployment rate of 4.2-percent and a poverty rate of 20-percent.
5. Albuquerque, New Mexico
For those who are surprised to see Albuquerque on this list, it’s more due to property crimes than violent crimes, but don’t be fooled by that. This is still one of the most dangerous cities in America. In 2016, Albuquerque had one of the worst crime rates in the country with 1,112 reported incidents of rape, assault, homicide, and robbery per 100,000 residents. Unfortuantely, 2017 didn’t fair much better for this city. In fact, the rates rose by a whopping 23-percent. In 2017 it became the 11th most dangerous city in America with 1,369 violent crimes per 100,000 residents, 70 of these incidents were homicides.
The poverty rate in Albuquerque is 18.9-percent with an unemployment rate of 5.5-percent. What’s even worse than being ranked as the 11th most violent city in the country? It’s ranked as the third most dangerous city for property crimes with 7, 365 per 100,000 residents in 2017. Many of these property crimes are a result of robberies. In 2016 the city reported 2,000 robberies which then rose to 2,930 in 2017.
4. Springfield, Missouri
As the first Springfield in America, this city made history. It’s making history once again, but this time as one of the most dangerous cities in the U.S. Business Insider looked at FBI data from 2017 and found that Springfield had 40.3 violent crimes per 10,000 residents. According to 24/7 Wall St., this number is on the rise. The homicide rate nearly doubled between 2016 and 2017 going from 4.8 to 8.3 per 100,000. The same source writes, “Murder and non-negligent manslaughter represent a relatively small share of overall violent crime, and Springfield’s violent crime rate remained effectively unchanged between 2016 and 2017.”
Road Snacks lists it as the number one most dangerous city in terms of property crimes with 8,853 per 100,000 people and the 12th most dangerous for violent crimes with 1,338 per 100,000 residents. There were 14 homicides in 2017, a poverty rate of 25.9-percent and an unemployment rate of 3.2-percent. Yet another reason to be wary of traveling to this city in 2019, this city sadly has the highest rate of reported incidents of rape in the country with an average of 209 per 100,000 residents. To give some perspective on this, the national average is 42 per 100,000.
3. Little Rock, Arkansas
Little Rock’s crime rate ain’t so little! This city is the capital of Arkansas and the largest city in the state. Not only did it have the highest crime rate in the state, but is also one of the highest in the country! Little Rock had 87.4 violent crimes per 10,000 residents, says Business Insider and according to Road Snacks, it ranks in the top 10 in the country for both property and violent crimes per capita. The same source lists it as the sixth most dangerous in terms of violent crimes with 1,633 per 100,000 people and the fifth most dangerous in terms of property crimes with 6,932 per 100,000 people.
There were 55 homicides in this city in 2017, a poverty rate of 18.5-percent, and an employment rate of 3.3-percent, according to USA Today. The rate of criminal offenses in 2017 rose 1.1-percent from 2016, and 24/7 Wall St. says the police blame it on rival gang activity.
2. Memphis, Tennessee
Violence and crime probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about Memphis, Tennessee. It’s more commonly known for it’s blues on Beale Street, being the home of Elvis, and of course, the site of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. But according to crime data from 2017, it’s currently one of the most dangerous cities in America with one of the highest violent crime rates in the country. In fact, Road Snacks lists it as being the third highest in America.
According to 24/7 Wall St., there were 653,000 violent crimes and 181 homicides committed in this city in 2017 which gives residents about a one in 50 chance at being a victim. We’re guessing the high rate of poverty has something to do with these statistics because Memphis has a poverty rate of about 27.6-percent which is much higher than the national 15.1-percent.
1. St. Louis, Missouri
St. Louis is typically known for it’s range of barbecue restaurants and blues music, but it’s also got another trick up it’s sleeve…one that probably isn’t advertised as much to tourists. It lands in the number one spot on several different lists as being the most dangerous city in America. Since this city ranks as the most dangerous city in America, at least based on crime data from 2017, we also consider it to be the most dangerous U.S. city to travel to in 2019.
Business Insider writes that St. Louis, Missouri had 91.5 violent crimes per 10,000 people in 2017. There were 205 homicides reported in St. Louis that same year which isn’t actually the highest number for a U.S. city in 2017, but once it’s adjusted to it’s population, it ends up being the highest murder rate in the country. According to 24/7 Wall St., St. Louis has a murder rate of 67 per 100,000 people which is extremely high, especially when it’s compared to the national average of 5 per 100,000. On top of all the violent crimes, the murder count for St. Louis in 2017 was 6,461 or 2,082 per 100,000 residents. This is the highest violent crime rate of any major U.S. city.
Wondering what has changed in 2020? Check out our updated list of the most dangerous cities in the US for 2020.