Special Report

25 Most Dangerous Cities in America

Source: Thinkstock

15. Toledo, Ohio
> Violent crime rate: 1,192 per 100,000
> 2016 murders: 37
> Poverty rate: 27.8%
> Unemployment rate: 5.6%

Crime is often most prevalent in cities with widespread poverty. In Toledo, 27.8% of residents live in poverty, and 14.7% of households earn less than $10,000 a year — each among the largest shares of any major U.S. city. There were 1,193 violent crimes reported per 100,000 residents in Toledo in 2016, more than three times the national rate of 386 incidents per 100,000 Americans.

While violent crime increased in Toledo in 2016 at roughly the same rate as the nation as a whole, property crime fell more than in most cities. The number of property crimes fell 10.5% in the city from 2015 to 2016, far more than the 1.3% national decline. Still, there were 4,020 property crimes per 100,000 Toledo residents in 2016, far more than the national rate of 2,451 property crimes per 100,000 Americans.

Source: Thinkstock

14. San Bernardino, California
> Violent crime rate: 1,324 per 100,000
> 2016 murders: 62
> Poverty rate: 33.4%
> Unemployment rate: 7.3%

There were 1,324 violent crimes reported per 100,000 residents in San Bernardino in 2016, far more than the national rate. A total of 62 murders were reported in the city in 2016, the deadliest year in San Bernardino since 1995. Police report that arrests and warrants have been made or issued for just about 44% of San Bernardino homicides in 2016, far less than the national average. One factor contributing to a high prevalence of crime in the area may be the city’s under-resourced police department. San Bernardino was hit hard by the Great Recession and went bankrupt in 2012. The city exited from bankruptcy in June 2017, but the San Bernardino Police Department remains relatively underfunded. As police officers retired or left for more secure jobs in other departments, the size of the force fell from a peak of 343 officers in 2008 to 215 as of 2016.

Source: Thinkstock

13. Springfield, Missouri
> Violent crime rate: 1,337 per 100,000
> 2016 murders: 8
> Poverty rate: 25.7%
> Unemployment rate: 4.0%

Springfield, Missouri’s property crime rose substantially between 2015 and 2016. Bucking the national trend, the number of property crimes in Springfield rose 9.6% in 2016, one of the sharpest spikes of any city. In response to rising crime, Springfield has attempted to bolster its police department, strengthening recruiting efforts and softening its no tattoo policy to accept candidates with forearm tattoos. The number of sworn officers in Springfield rose 5.8% from 2015 to 2016, one of the largest increases of any major city.

Source: Thinkstock

12. Indianapolis, Indiana
> Violent crime rate: 1,374 per 100,000
> 2016 murders: 148
> Poverty rate: 21.3%
> Unemployment rate: 4.5%

Violent crime is much more common among extremely low-income population groups. In Indianapolis, 10.1% of households earn less than $10,000 a year, compared to the national share of 7.2%. There were 1,374 violent crimes reported per 100,000 residents in Indianapolis in 2016, more than three times the national rate. A city’s high violent crime rate can often be traced to a few high-poverty, crime-ridden neighborhoods, where gun violence can increase the incidence of homicide and other violent crime. In Indianapolis, many of the most dangerous neighborhoods are near the city center, such as Martindale-Brightwood and Warren Park.

As is often the case in cities with high violent crime rates, property crime is also a serious problem in Indianapolis. For example, there were roughly 1,180 burglaries per 100,000 residents in the city in 2016, approximately 2.5 times the national burglary rate.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

11. Stockton, California
> Violent crime rate: 1,421 per 100,000
> 2016 murders: 49
> Poverty rate: 25.3%
> Unemployment rate: 8.7%

Violent crime includes murder, rape, robbery, burglary, and aggravated assault. Aggravated assault accounts for the majority of violent incidents in most cities, and Stockton is no exception. Of the city’s roughly 4,400 violent crimes reported in 2016, approximately 3,000 were cases of aggravated assault. Adjusting for population, there were 979 cases of aggravated assault per 100,000 Stockton residents in 2016, the seventh highest rate in the country and almost four times the national rate of 249 aggravated assaults per 100,000 people.

While the relationship is complex, cities with high unemployment often have a higher incidence of crime. Stockton’s 2016 annual unemployment rate is 8.7%, far higher than the 4.9% national unemployment rate.

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