Special Report

Cities Where Crime Is Soaring

9. Sioux Falls, SD
> 5-year increase in violent crime rate: 37.7%
> Violent crime per 100,000 (2009): 211.9
> Violent crime per 100,000 (2013): 291.8
> Murders per 100,000 (2013): 3.0

In 2009, there were 212 violent crimes reported per 100,000 people in the Sioux Falls metro area, one of the lower rates nationwide. By 2013, the rate had risen to 292 violent crimes per 100,000 people, an increase of nearly 38% — the 10th largest increase among U.S. metro areas. City officials last year attributed part of this spike in crime to population growth. Yet, this does not fully explain the higher crime rate. Some crimes are also becoming more common than others. Methamphetamine-related crimes, for example, have risen dramatically in the area since 2009. Despite the increase in crime rate in recent years, however, the city remains significantly safer when compared to the national violent crime rate of 367.9 per 100,000 people, and the local economy is relatively strong. Just 3.3% of the area’s workforce was unemployed in 2013, one of the lower rates nationwide.

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8. Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin, FL
> 5-year increase in violent crime rate: 40.2%
> Violent crime per 100,000 (2009): 294.8
> Violent crime per 100,000 (2013): 413.2
> Murders per 100,000 (2013): 7.0

While the metros with soaring crime rates were not necessarily the most dangerous areas in the United States, the Crestview-Fort Walton metro area had one of the higher crime rates in the nation. There were 413.2 violent crimes reported per 100,000 metro area residents in 2013, versus the national rate of 367.9. As in most cities with rising crime rates, Crestview’s 2013 unemployment rate of 5.2% — down from 7.1% in 2009 — was well below the national rate of 7.4%. Yet, the area’s strong economic growth since the recession did not seem to have helped fight rising crime rates. A heavy reliance on military-dependent industries may make the city more vulnerable to government cutbacks, which could make addressing the area’s soaring crime rate more difficult in the future.

7. Madera-Chowchilla, CA
> 5-year increase in violent crime rate: 46.6%
> Violent crime per 100,000 (2009): 454.1
> Violent crime per 100,000 (2013): 665.7
> Murders per 100,000 (2013): 13.0

Madera had a violent crime rate of 665.7 per 100,000 people in 2013, a 46.6% increase from 2009, as well as the 15th highest crime rate among all metro areas. Financial distress among residents may have contributed to the area’s high crime rates. Madera had a median household income of less than $40,000 in 2013, considerably lower than the national median of $52,250. Nearly 24% of residents also lived in poverty that year, versus less than 16% of all Americans. A poor job market is partly to blame for the low incomes, as more than 11% of the workforce was unemployed in 2013, one of the highest unemployment rates compared to other large urban areas. Madera metro area residents were also poorly educated compared to other areas reviewed. In 2013, only 70% of adults had at least a high school diploma and just 13% had at least a bachelor’s degree, both some of the lowest rates nationwide.