Special Report

The Safest Cities in America

5. Naperville, Illinois
> Violent crimes per 100,000:
> 2014 murders: 1
> Poverty rate: 5%
> Unemployment rate: 5.5%

As many as 97.3% of Naperville adults have graduated high school, the second largest share in the country after Centennial, Colorado. Disengaged, relatively unskilled, young men are the most likely perpetrators of criminal activity. With nearly every area adult having completed high school, crime rates in Naperville are very low. Only 78 violent crimes were reported for every 100,000 area residents in 2014, a lower violent crime rate than in all but a handful of other U.S. cities. Property crimes such as burglary and motor vehicle theft are also relatively rare in Naperville. Some 1,123 property crimes were reported per 100,000 residents last year, less than half the national property crime rate of about 2,596 incidents for every 100,000 Americans.

4. Olathe, Kansas
> Violent crimes per 100,000:
> 2014 murders: 0
> Poverty rate: 8.4%
> Unemployment rate: 3.6%

Olathe touts its two public lakes, high-performing school system, and well-financed public safety services as key features of its prosperous community. The city is a popular destination for hot air ballooning and sailboarding enthusiasts. Like a number of America’s safest cities, Olathe is conveniently located near a concentrated urban center. Kansas City, with the economic and cultural amenities typically found in such large metropolitan centers, is only 20 miles from Olathe. In addition to these qualities, Olathe residents benefit from one of the lowest violent crime rates in the nation. Murders — included in the rate — are virtually nonexistent in the city. And while crime rates did not necessarily decline over the past several years in many of the safest cities, Olathe’s 2014 violent crime rate declined considerably from the previous year.

3. Cary, North Carolina
> Violent crimes per 100,000:
> 2014 murders: 3
> Poverty rate: 7.3%
> Unemployment rate: 3.7%

Cary, North Carolina is one of only five of the 25 safest U.S. cities where the violent crime rate has steadily declined since 2010. Though violent crime was relatively uncommon in Cary in 2010 with roughly 85 incidents per 100,000 residents, the rate declined to as few as 63 incidents for every 100,000 residents last year.

Low unemployment and high educational attainment rates in the area have likely contributed to the scarcity of violent crime. The city’s unemployment rate of 3.7% is one of the lowest in the country and significantly lower than the national unemployment rate of 6.2%. Additionally, roughly 62% of area adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, a larger share than in only a handful of other U.S. cities.

2. Murrieta, California
> Violent crimes per 100,000:
> 2014 murders: 1
> Poverty rate: 7.4%
> Unemployment rate: 6.6%

Low violent crime rate areas are often isolated to specific communities bordering more violent cities. McAllen, Texas, for example, borders Edinburgh, which has a relatively high crime rate. Murrieta, however, borders Temecula, another of the nation’s safest cities. Like Temecula, Murrieta residents have the benefit of a convenient location, both in terms of luxury and economic opportunity. Some of California’s coveted beaches, as well as the dense urban centers of Los Angeles and San Diego, are within one or two hours drive from Murrieta. Area residents are among the least likely Americans to live in poverty, as just 7.4% of people live in poverty, half the national rate. Financial stability likely contributes to the safety of the city’s communities. Murrieta’s crime rate of 63 per 100,000 people is lower than every city except for Irvine, and crime has also fallen in each of the past four years.

1. Irvine, California
> Violent crimes per 100,000:
> 2014 murders: 0
> Poverty rate: 12.6%
> Unemployment rate: 4.1%

Of the 11 cities on the list located in California, Irvine is the safest. With no reported murders in 2014 and a violent crime rate of less than one incident for every 2,000 residents, Irvine is also the safest city in the country. Adults in the metro area are much more likely to be educated than adults across the nation. While 30.1% of American adults have earned a bachelor’s degree, 67.7% of adults in Irvine have earned a bachelor’s degree, a higher educational attainment rate than in all but four other U.S. cities.

Property crime is similarly rare in Irvine. At roughly 1,253 reported incidents of crimes such as larceny and burglary for every 100,000 area residents, only a handful of cities had a lower property crime rate than Irvine in 2014. By comparison, the national property crime rate the same year was more than double at 2,596 incidents for every 100,000 people.

Click here to see the most dangerous cities in America.

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