Ten U.S. Cities Where Violent Crime Is Soaring

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10. Lewiston, Idaho-Wash.
> 5-year increase in violent crime rate: 44.5%
> Violent crime per 100,000 (2007): 125.1
> Violent crime per 100,000 (2012): 180.8
> Murders per 100,000: 0.0

Between 2007 and 2012, the Lewiston metro area has experienced large increases in both robbery and aggravated assault. The area is relatively small, however. There were just eight robberies in 2007 and only 16 in 2012. For aggravated assault, there were only 83 reported cases in 2012, up from five years before. Property crimes rose during that time as well, from 1,883 to 2,135. Still, the city remained relatively safe, with violent crime less than half as prevalent as it was nationally. In one recent initiative to help deter crime, Lewiston pawn shops are turning to electronic monitoring systems to more-rapidly determine whether items brought into their stores are stolen.

9. Appleton, Wis.
> 5-year increase in violent crime rate: 46.1%
> Violent crime per 100,000 (2007): 105.4
> Violent crime per 100,000 (2012): 154.0
> Murders per 100,000: 0.4

By many measures, the Appleton metro area is quite safe. There were just 154 violent crimes per 100,000 residents in 2012, well below the U.S. rate of 386.9 such crimes. However, this marks a considerable increase from 2007, when the area had just 105.4 violent crimes per 100,000 people. According to The Post-Crescent, Appleton police have developed tactics for dealing with rising heroin use in the area. The city’s police chief also told the paper that the department would also continue to prioritize domestic violence. According to the Urban Institute’s Roman, such initiatives can change victims’ reporting behavior, and make them more likely to come forward. While crime is generally down in the area over the last five years, the number of reported aggravated assault cases rose from 145 in 2007 to 273 in 2012.

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8. Bangor, Maine
> 5-year increase in violent crime rate: 46.8%
> Violent crime per 100,000 (2007): 61.5
> Violent crime per 100,000 (2012): 90.3
> Murders per 100,000: 5.2

Bangor had the lowest violent crime rate of all metro areas in 2007 and remained among the nation’s lowest as of 2012. However, given the area’s small size, the slight uptick in violent crime — which rose from a total of 90 incidents in 2007 to139 incidents in 2012 — meant the increase in the violent crime rate was one of the largest in the country. Heroin use, which has been on the rise in the state, is up in the city as well, one officer told the Bangor Daily News. Addiction to heroin has caused broader health problems as well. According to The New York Times, Governor Paul LePage recently noted that more than 7% of infants born in the state last year were addicted to drugs.

7. Sioux Falls, S.D.
> 5-year increase in violent crime rate: 49.7%
> Violent crime per 100,000 (2007): 202.6
> Violent crime per 100,000 (2012): 303.3
> Murders per 100,000: 0.9

Both violent and property crime rates have risen in the Sioux Falls metro area in recent years, and local politicians have taken note of the problem. Crime has become a major topic in the city’s mayoral race, even as Sioux Falls’ economy has grown at a rapid pace The area’s unemployment rate was just 5.3% in 2012, while job growth has been robust in recent years. Still, crime rates have risen broadly. In total, there were just 445 violent crimes and 4,333 property crimes in 2007. By 2012, those figures had risen to 713 and 5,816, respectively. Despite the increase, the area’s crime rates remain considerably below national rates.

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6. Morgantown, W. Va.
> 5-year increase in violent crime rate: 50.8%
> Violent crime per 100,000 (2007): 191.0
> Violent crime per 100,000 (2012): 288.1
> Murders per 100,000: 2.3

Cases of aggravated assault, which more-than doubled over the past five years, have largely driven the rise in the Morgantown area’s violent crime rate. Aside from aggravated assaults, other violent crime rates actually declined between 2007 and 2012, as did property crime rates. Morgantown’s 5.3% unemployment rate in 2012 was one of the lower ones in the nation. Job growth in the area has been positive in recent years, and the unemployment rate has returned to pre-recession levels. The city of Morgantown itself is quite small with only about 30,000 residents, while the area is also home to West Virginia University, which itself had more than 29,000 students last fall.