Are your doors locked? Is your home alarm activated? You might want to double-check if you live in one of the five US cities with the highest crime rates. There’s no refuting that crime happens everywhere. Whether you live in an affluent suburban neighborhood or a struggling community, it’s smart to be cautious. But statistically speaking, you may want to be a bit more alert if you live in one of these five cities: St. Louis, MO; Camden, NJ; Detroit, MI; Flint, MI; or Oakland, CA. That’s because CQ Press, a leading publisher of books, directories, reference publications, and textbooks focusing on US government recently released its crime findings for 2010 and found these five locations to have the highest reported crime rates.
A note about how the rankings came to be (according to CQ Press.) The crime rate rankings are calculated using six crime categories: murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, and motor vehicle theft as reported to the FBI. The rankings include all cities of at least 75,000 residents. Example: If a city is ranked 3 out of 400 for rape, that means the city has the third worst rape rate among the 400 cities analyzed.
Here’s how it all shook out:
1. St. Louis, MO
Usually, being first is a good thing, but not so for St. Louis, MO. St. Louis, home of the famous Gateway Arch, was ranked as the city with the highest crime rate in the US. The city was ranked 4 out of 400 cities analyzed for assault incidents, 5 out of 400 for murder offenses, and 3 out of 400 for both robbery and burglary.
2. Camden, NJ
Unfortunately, for Camden’s residents, this isn’t its first time Camden has been positioned at the top of the highest crime rate list. In fact, last year it took first place. Located across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, PA, this New Jersey crime hot-bed was ranked 2 out of 400 for assaults, and 1 out of 400 for both rape and robbery. It came in at 4 out of 400 for murder. Sadly, it placed in the top 5 out of 400 for four out of the six categories analyzed. Here’s some extra bad news: in January of 2011, the Major of Camden announced layoffs of nearly half of the city’s police force.
3. Detroit, MI
Detroit, MI is having a hard time, but that’s nothing new. When analyzed, CQ Pres reported that the “Motor City” sat at number 3 out of 400 for assault, 6 out of 400 for murder and 2 out of 400 for motor vehicle theft. Only in the category of rape did things appear a little less grim; it ranked 151 out of 400 for that hideous violent crime.
4. Flint, MI
About one hour north of Detroit, MI, you’ll find Flint, MI ranked as the fourth most dangerous city out of 400 reviewed. The crime stats of Detroit and Flint give the state of Michigan two black eyes. Coming in at first place (1 out of 400) for assault, 2 out of 400 for burglary, and at number 10 for murder.
5. Oakland, CA
Oakland, CA is a name you often hear in the news. Unfortunately, the news is usually negative. Located on San Francisco Bay, this major US shipping port is keeping the police busy. It ranks first in motor vehicle theft, and 14 out of 400 in murder. Assault and burglary run neck-in-neck at 15 out of 400.
While the information gathered by CQ Press is certainly sobering, experts in crime statistics caution against giving the numbers too much weight. There are many factors that impact crime levels; population density, economic conditions, and strength of local law enforcement agencies to name just a few. So read the rankings with this in mind.
Some Safe Cities
If bolting your doors isn’t something that appeals to you, then check out one of these cities that boast some of the lowest crime rate rankings around: Sugar Land, TX; Colonie, NY; O’Fallon, MO; Ramapo, NY; Glen Falls, NY; or Mission Viejo, CA. Or, explore cities in the three states deemed to be safest (pack your winter coat): New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine.