We all expect that large metropolitan areas will be far more dangerous places than small towns in the United States. Small towns are often seen as quiet little places where people leave their doors unlocked and know everyone and everyone’s personal business. While there are still some small towns that have this type of lifestyle and security, times have changed dramatically. The world is a different place and small towns aren’t as safe as they were once upon a time. In fact, many of the most dangerous places to live in America are in smaller communities.
While urban cities have more people, they also get the advantage of having more resources. They have the workforce and money to positively change communities proactively. They look at the reasons why crimes are committed and work to help citizens go down the correct path before it’s too late. Small towns have the same problems, but on a different population scale. The same things that drive people to lives of crime in large cities, drive them in small ones. Unfortunately, there are far fewer financial and human resources to combat the problem in these communities. It should be noted that no town wants to have problems with crime and they aren’t taking the problem lightly. But with a lack of resources, it’s a lot more difficult.
Thanks to the folks at Safewise for their research, these are 15 of the most dangerous small towns to live in the United States at the moment. This information looks at the per capita crime and property crime rates (crimes committed for every 1,000 people) and provides some background about the community itself. This isn’t to say that there aren’t some great things happening in these communities, but there are obviously some issues with crime that must be addressed.
15 Anniston, Alabama
With steady population decline since 1960, Anniston, Alabama is a city of approximately 22,300 people. It boasts the country’s largest chair and is located in Northeast Alabama. The community is racially diverse with approximately 43% of its population listed as non-hispanic white and 51% listed as African American. Anniston suffers from a very high poverty rate, with approximately 30% of its population living below the poverty line. Anniston’s 2016 statistics showed 23.75 violent crimes per 1,000 citizens. Property crimes were also high at nearly 76 per thousand. Despite this, the community continues to offer cultural programs for youth and to promote community involvement. Unfortunately, with such a high crime rate, it’s difficult to attract new business and new residents. Can this once thriving center of commerce have a more prosperous future? Only time will tell.
14 Blytheville, Arkansas
Once, the most prosperous community in Northeast Arkansas, Blytheville was home to a Strategic Air Command Air Force base. The community was built as a lumber mill hub in the late 1800s and has seen rebirth in the areas of cotton farming and ginning and now steel. While this community is still one of the top steel producing locations in the country, the poverty level and crime in this community is very high. With a steady population decline since 1970, Blytheville has seen steep drops and today is home to approximately 14,600 people. Approximately 28% of the population lives below the poverty line in this racially diverse community. The city has many cultural and artistic offerings despite its alarmingly high violent crime rate of 17 per 1,000 citizens. The Ritz Civic Center hosts many cultural offerings, as does the Delta Gateway Museum. Blytheville is also home to Arkansas Northeastern College.
13 Douglas, Georgia
Nestled in South Central Georgia is the town of Douglas. With a population of approximately 11,700, Douglas has seen some small population growth over the last few decades. Approximately 24% of the town lives under the poverty line, with a diverse population. Approximately 7% of the community is hispanic, with the rest as pretty much equally divided between white and African American. The violent crime rate is lower than many of the communities on the list at nine per thousand citizens. But the property crime rate is considerably higher at a rate of nearly 93 per thousand. One of the biggest reasons people avoid a community is due to the rate of property crime. In Douglas, this seems to be a substantial problem and perhaps a more recent one at that. If Douglas can get a handle on the property crime, they’ll be in much better shape.
12 Henderson, North Carolina
Dating back to the first settlers in 1785, Henderson is a community very rich in history. This beautiful community in a beautiful state is just a short drive from the state capital. But all the history and heritage in the world can’t escape current realities. Henderson has a substantial problem with crime and that’s why it has made the list. At nearly 15 violent crimes per 1,000 residents and a staggering 93 property crimes per thousand, this community has some serious issues. At about 15,200, the population of this community has held steady over the years. But with a 28% poverty rate, it’s more difficult to keep the crime rate down. With a racially diverse community, it should be a melting pot of prosperity, but unfortunately, the city has only seen increases in crime.
11 Humble, Texas
Over in East Texas is the small community of Humble. Since everything is bigger in Texas, for this town it happens to be the property crime rate. At nearly 105 property crimes per 1,000 residents, these residents must constantly be on their guard. While the violent crime rate is considerably lower, if the community doesn’t get a handle on property crimes, it will be hard to attract new residents and new business. But the population of Humble has steadily grown over the decades. The poverty rate is lower than in other communities on the list, so maybe the city needs to invest in additional law enforcement resources to match the growth. Either way, Humble has an uphill battle to climb to convince people that the community is safe and secure.
10 Branson, Missouri
Known as a tourist town, Branson is a destination city for many people throughout the region and the country. Situated in the Ozark Mountains, Branson is home to Silver Dollar City, a frontier themed amusement park, as well as many theatrical shows, museums and musical events. Branson has seen huge booms to its population, most likely as a result of the growing tourism industry in the area. Along with these booms though has come a boom in crime. While violent crimes are reasonably well controlled, property crimes are astounding at 107 per 1,000 residents. As in other areas with high property crime, it becomes difficult to keep a positive reputation when so many people are victimized by theft and vandalism. Hopefully Branson will get their act together sooner rather than later.
9 East Point, Georgia
East Point is a beautiful community located in Northwest Georgia. The city has approximately 35,000 citizens with less ethnic diversity than many other communities on the list. The city has climbed the list of most dangerous small towns over the last few years. For 2016, the rate of violent crimes in East Point was nearly 13 per thousand people. Property crime was also very high at 105 per thousand. With high numbers like this, it is no wonder why some people feel the need to sleep with one eye open. No one enjoys living in communities with such high crime and East Point is no exception. The city is only seven miles from downtown Atlanta, so there’s lots of great resources and things to do not far away. If they could get control of the crime, East Point would be a wonderful bedroom community.
8 Selma, Alabama
Selma is a historic community, known largely for the voting rights movement and its role in the overall civil rights movement protests. This city of about 19,500 people has a strong history in the Civil War era with beautiful architecture and has many cultural and educational opportunities. But along with the reputation of this community is a great deal of poverty. Over 31% of Selma lives below the poverty level, which as we have seen, often has a relationship to the crime rate. The violent crime rate is nearly 14 per thousand and the property crime rate is a very high 105 per thousand residents. With such a proud history, Selma has a great deal of work to do to keep a positive reputation and make their residents feel safe.
7 Gallup, New Mexico
With steady growth and a population of over 23,000, Gallup is the definition of an “old west” town. This city is located in Northwest New Mexico near the Arizona border. The famous Route 66 goes through town and Gallup even is one of the mentioned towns in the famous song “Route 66!” But these days, Gallup is getting a reputation as a high crime community. Indeed, the dangerous aspect of this town is that its violent crime and property crime is very high. At over 21 violent crimes per 1,000 people, Gallup has a lot of work to do to get off this list. The property crime rate is also bad at nearly 106 per thousand. The city is very close to Native American reservations and Gallup itself has over 40% of its population identified as Native American. There is a serious lack of economic development in the area and that has not helped the city gain control of the crime problem.
6 Bellmead, Texas
As part of the Waco Metropolitan Statistical Area, Bellmead has a population of just over 10,000 people. The crime in this town though, is something of a recent problem with a huge spike in the per capita violent and property crimes reported. The community has a lot of positive qualities with access to multiple opportunities for higher education, jobs and a solid public school system. But with nearly 17 violent crimes per thousand people and a whopping 111 property crimes per thousand, one has to wonder what has happened to this Waco suburb. It doesn’t take very long to let things go downhill and make citizens feel unsafe, so hopefully Bellmead will figure out what’s caused the problem and do whatever is necessary to keep their citizens free from harm.
5 College Park, Georgia
Between 2000 and 2010, College Park, Georgia lost over 30% of its population. That kind of change in a ten year period of time is enough to devastate a community. Known for high crime rates, the city is fighting back to regain the ground that it lost in the first decade of the 21st century. Today, an estimated 14,600 people live in this suburb of Atlanta. There is still a great deal of work to do and improvements that must be made. With over 21 violent crimes per thousand residents, and over 111 property crimes per thousand, College Park is not anywhere close to where it needs to be in terms of crime rate. It just proves that just because a community is smaller, does not mean that it is safer.
4 Lumberton, North Carolina
In South Central North Carolina, Lumberton is a community of about 22,600 residents. Almost 26% of the population lives below the poverty line, so to say that the community isn’t affluent would be an understatement. Lumberton has a significant problem with both violent and property related crime. The property crime rate is nearly 138 per 1,000 residents. This is a staggering number and as has been mentioned before, does not give people the inclination to move to the city. Violent crime is also particularly high at a rate of over 16 per thousand residents. With problems like this, it’s hard to sustain a population and bring economic development. Hopefully Lumberton will be able to turn the ship in a more positive direction before it gets a permanent reputation.
3 Emeryville, California
As the only dangerous small town on the list from California, Emeryville is located between Berkeley and Oakland. At approximately 11,700 residents, the area boomed after the 2000 census and is still growing. The area has a more urban feel and while poverty is not as high as in other towns on the list, the crime rate is of major concern. Violent crime is just over 10 per thousand residents and is not as high as many other locations, but property crime is out of control. At a rate of 146 per 1,000 citizens, something will have to change for Emeryville, or there will be no changing public perception. There are lots of employment opportunities and resources in the area. Hopefully improved law enforcement is on the horizon.
2 Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
With a population of over 27,000 people, Myrtle Beach is a well known travel destination in the United States. The area attracts over 14 million visitors annually. With this kind of influx of people constantly coming in and out, there is a much greater opportunity for criminal activity. Myrtle Beach keeps its violent crime to about 14 per 1,000 residents, which is too high on its own, but the property crimes committed in the community are astronomical! With a rate of 159 per thousand residents, it’s almost as if getting your stuff stolen or vandalized is just a way of life. Something will have to change or Myrtle Beach will become a “has been” tourist location where no one will want to visit. Only time will tell if the situation will improve.
1 Tukwila, Washington
Usually, people in metropolitan areas flee to the suburbs to escape crime. In the case of Tukwila, Washington, it is this suburb that has the bad reputation. While this suburb of Seattle has managed to keep its violent crime to approximately 8 per 1,000 citizens, the property crime rate is the highest on the list at a jaw dropping 165.75 per thousand. There are just about 20,000 people living in this town, but many more work in the city during the day from neighboring communities. Whether this is the reason for the high rate of crime or not is unanswered, but if law enforcement doesn’t make some changes and get a handle on the situation soon, it will leave a permanent scar on the reputation of this community.
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