When you think of dangerous cities in America, you probably think of places like Detroit, Cleveland, and Stockton. But there are also several smaller, less well-known cities with surprisingly high crime rates.
In this blog post, we'll take a look at 12 unexpectedly dangerous cities in America, explore the crime rates according to recent crime data, and discuss factors contributing to their high crime rates.
Why wait? Let’s jump right in.
Here you go with the list of 12 dangerous cities in America that many don't think are dangerous.
1. Bessemer, Alabama
Bessemer, located south of Birmingham's frantic activity, has a long history of industrial success. It's like the region's steel-making maestro, cranking out metal miracles and other manufactured goods by the tonne.
However, Bessemer has faced its fair share of difficulties amid the hum of industry and the bustle of commerce. Its former reputation as the most dangerous city in the United States is hardly a badge of honor.
And, well, let's not put too sweet a spin on it: crime has played a significant role in Bessemer's history. Those crime rates have been greatly influenced by the prevalence of poverty, joblessness, and violent gang involvement.
2. Mobile, Alabama
Mobile, the “grand dame” of Alabama's coastal cities, sits on the Gulf of Mexico. It's a city that's always planning to meet up with the water, as it's a hub for shipping and commerce.
And Mobile sure knows how to make an entrance. However, there is some bad news: crime has been a persistent visitor. In particular, the disruptive group identified as violent crime.
The murder rate skyrocketed in 2022, reaching 20 per 100,000 people. It is significantly more than the national average.
And guess who's hogging the limelight in this crime spectacle? The gang squad, and poverty.
3. Monroe, Louisiana
Now let's take a little detour to Monroe, Louisiana – a city nestled away in the northeastern corner of the state. Second fiddle to no one, it's the second-largest in Ouachita Parish, and it's got a personality that refuses to be overshadowed.
But there's a twist to this city – crime's been doing its dance here, too. The kind that makes you hold your breath and cross your fingers.
With a murder rate of 17 per 1 lac residents, which is more than double the national average, Monroe's got some spicy crime stats.
4. Flint, Michigan
Flint, Michigan, is the beating heart of Genesee County and the smack dab thick of the action in the Great Lakes State.
The real kicker is that crime has been an unwanted houseguest that refuses to leave. In 2022, Flint's murder rate of 15 per 100,000 population was the highest in the country, significantly higher than the national average of 6.8 per 100,000.
5. Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the shining jewel of the Badger State, is nestled on Lake Michigan's western side. It's like a metropolis where people regularly mingle with waves and canals.
And, let's be honest, it does have that metropolitan feel. But it also falls on the list of unexpectedly dangerous cities in America. Why?
With 14 murders per 100,000, the rate is still increasing in 2023.
6. Saginaw, Michigan
Saginaw is a city located in the eastern part of the state and is the largest city in the county.
Saginaw has a high crime rate, especially for violent crime. Last year, the city's murder rate was 16 per 100k residents, more than twice the national average.
7. Oakland, California
Oakland is a beautiful yet picturesque city in Alameda County, California. It's located on the eastern shore of San Francisco Bay, a major port city. With its major port status and a view that could make anyone jealous, Oakland knows how to turn heads.
Besides, Oakland has a high crime rate, such as murders and extreme violence. In 2022, the city's murder rate is 13 per 100,000 residents and is increasing, causing a decrease in the number of visitors.
Because of its high concentration of gangs and drug dealers, the western part of Oakland is widely regarded as the city's most hazardous neighborhood. The greatest crime rates in the city are here, particularly in Ghost Town and Acorn.
8. Shreveport, Louisiana
Shreveport is a city in Caddo Parish, Louisiana. The city's murder rate is around 12 per 100,000 residents.
Approximately 1 in 104 people fall victim to violent crimes, and 1 out of 24 get caught in property snatching issues daily.
So, Shreveport is not the safest city in the country or even the state, with a crime and property rate far higher than the norm.
Poverty correlates strongly with a more significant crime rate. The city is secure during the day, but safety measures should still be taken.
9. Memphis, Tennessee
Memphis is the largest city in Tennessee. It's located on the Mississippi River and is a major commercial and cultural center.
Memphis has a violent crime rate of 85.7, approximately 4 times the national average of 22.7. In addition, the property crime rate is 81.1, significantly higher than the national average of 35.4.
Problems with dispute resolution and easy access to firearms is the common cause of the city being so dangerous. Officers who respond to crimes in Memphis often report that gang violence plays a relatively minor role.
Moreover, it is estimated that 13% of homicides in Memphis are related to gang violence.
10. St. Louis, Missouri
A recent study identified St. Louis as the most dangerous city in the United States. This ranking is attributed to various factors, including alarmingly high crime rates and potential hazards such as natural disasters and car accidents.
On the other end of the spectrum, St. Louis, unfortunately, found itself at the bottom of the rankings in a recent WalletHub report.
This comprehensive study examined the safety of 182 cities across the United States, considering various factors such as assault rates and other issues.
Regarding crime rates, St. Louis stands out among communities of all sizes in America, with 70 crimes per one thousand residents. It places it among the highest crime rates in the country, encompassing both small towns and large cities. The likelihood of falling victim to a violent or property crime in this area is approximately one in 14.
11. Baltimore, Maryland
Baltimore – Charm City is situated on the picturesque Chesapeake Bay. With its maritime heritage and urban charm, it's got a bit of everything.
But let's not kid ourselves – crime's been this uninvited guest crashing Baltimore's party. Especially the kind that doesn't play nice – violent crime.
In 2022, the murder rate was like a drumbeat in the night – 3000 per 100,000 residents, more than double the national average, and it’s even increasing with 99 per 1000 residents in 2023.
And wouldn't you know it? Poverty, unemployment, and gangs have decided to stick around like unwelcome party crashers in Baltimore's crime saga.
12. New Orleans, Louisiana
Speaking of beautiful cities in the United States, New Orleans certainly stands out as a true gem. With such a captivating allure, it's no wonder that over 19 million people are drawn to visit each year.
While New Orleans is undoubtedly a vibrant and culturally rich city, it is essential to acknowledge that some visitors are concerned about safety due to its high crime rate, particularly violent crimes.
One issue that frequently troubles both visitors and residents in New Orleans is the alarming rate of violent crime. Speaking of New Orleans, did you know that the city has a 1 in 72 chance of experiencing a violent crime?
Regarding the 2022 crime data for New Orleans, it is worth noting that the city stood out among metropolitan areas in the United States. Unlike many other cities experiencing a decrease in violent crime, New Orleans, unfortunately, witnessed an increase, making it a particularly concerning situation.
Be Careful As You Travel
As we wrap up this investigation into the shadowy side of America, it's important to remember that behind every crime number is a story created by the complex interplay of economic hardship, police brutality, and community fortitude.
Be sure to take all appropriate precautions before venturing out into any of these cities.
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I’m Steve. I’m an English Teacher, traveler, and an avid outdoorsman. If you’d like to comment, ask a question, or simply say hi, leave me a message here, on Twitter (@thefrugalexpat1). Many of my posts have been written to help those in their journey to financial independence. I am on my journey, and as I learn more I hope to share more. And as always, thanks for reading The Frugal Expat.