25 Cities Where Crime Is Soaring

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5. San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, CA
> 5-yr. violent crime rate change: +58.7%
> 2011 violent crime rate: 249.3 per 100,000 (total: 680)
> 2016 violent crime rate: 395.6 per 100,000 (total: 1,115)
> December unemployment rate: 3.1%
> Poverty rate: 10.6%

The violent crime rate in the San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande metro area climbed by 58.7% over the last five years. Over the same period, the violent crime rate nationwide remained relatively flat. Despite the crime spike, the metro area’s 2016 crime rate of 396 incidents per 100,000 residents is only slightly higher than the 386 per 100,000 U.S. violent crime rate. Additionally, the metro area remains a safer place than most of California’s 25 other metro areas for which data is available.

While violence is more common in the metro area than it was five years ago, San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande has gotten safer in recent years. The metro area’s 2016 violent crime rate is a considerable improvement from the 2014 rate of 421 crimes per 100,000 people.

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4. Gainesville, GA
> 5-yr. violent crime rate change: +67.3%
> 2011 violent crime rate: 156.0 per 100,000 (total: 284)
> 2016 violent crime rate: 261.0 per 100,000 (total: 512)
> December unemployment rate: 3.7%
> Poverty rate: 13.2%

The incidence of violent crime in Gainesville soared 67.3% over the last five years, the largest increase of any metro area in Georgia and one of the largest in the country. Most of the increase took place between 2015 and 2016. The metro area also reported a slight increase in property crime. Despite falling in four of the last five years, the incidence of burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft rose by 3.5% from 2,475 incidents per 100,000 residents in 2011 to 2,562 per 100,000 in 2016. Nationwide, the incidence of property crime fell by 15.7% over the same period.

While violent crime increased in Gainesville more than in all but three other metro areas in the past five years, it remains well below the national rate of 386 violent crimes per 100,000 Americans.

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3. Michigan City-LaPorte, IN
> 5-yr. violent crime rate change: +79.5%
> 2011 violent crime rate: 167.8 per 100,000 (total: 188)
> 2016 violent crime rate: 301.2 per 100,000 (total: 333)
> December unemployment rate: 4.2%
> Poverty rate: 16.2%

The violent crime rate in the Michigan City-LaPorte metro area climbed by nearly 80% over the last five years — the third steepest increase of any U.S. metro area. While the violent crime rate has been steadily climbing for years in many metro areas on this list, Michigan City-LaPorte is not one of them. The metro area’s violent crime rate remained relatively flat between 2011 and 2015, only to nearly double from 156 incidents per 100,000 residents in 2015 to 301 per 100,000 in 2016.

Despite the recent spike in the violent crime, Michigan City-LaPorte remains relatively safe. The city’s 2016 violent crime rate is lower than in the majority of metro areas in Indiana and well below the 386 per 100,000 violent crime rate nationwide.

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2. Sioux Falls, SD
> 5-yr. violent crime rate change: +80.4%
> 2011 violent crime rate: 215.1 per 100,000 (total: 497)
> 2016 violent crime rate: 388.1 per 100,000 (total: 994)
> December unemployment rate: 3.1%
> Poverty rate: 8.9%

The violent crime rate in Sioux Falls has ticked up nearly every year in the last half decade. Steady year-over-year increases resulted in an 80.4% overall surge in the metro area’s violent crime rate, from 215 incidents per 100,000 residents in 2011 to 388 per 100,000 in 2016. Despite the steep increase in crime, Sioux Falls remains safer than Rapid City, the only other metro area in South Dakota for which the FBI tracks violent crime. There were 495 violent crimes for every 100,000 people in the Rapid City metro area in 2016.

Preliminary reports for 2017 indicate that violent crime may be on its way down in Sioux Falls. However, as is the case in much of the country, drug-related crimes are on the rise in the area.

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1. Monroe, LA
> 5-yr. violent crime rate change: +85.5%
> 2011 violent crime rate: 639.7 per 100,000 (total: 1,139)
> 2016 violent crime rate: 1,186.9 per 100,000 (total: 2,126)
> December unemployment rate: 4.7%
> Poverty rate: 24.0%

Violent crime surged by 85.5% in the Monroe, Louisiana, metro area over the last five years — the largest increase of any metro area in the country. Due to the increase, the Monroe’s violent crime rate of 1,187 incidents per 100,000 people is now the highest of any U.S. metro area. The total number of 20 murders and 324 robberies logged by police in 2016 were each more than double the number of murders and robberies recorded in 2011. Economically depressed areas are at greater risk of high crime rates, and in the Monroe metro area, 24.0% of the population lives below the poverty line — well above the 14.0% U.S. poverty rate.

In mid-2017, Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo argued that youth intervention and gun-buyback programs aimed at preventing crimes were a preferable tactic to addressing violence in the metro area than increased policing and arrests. What impact the mayor’s approach will have remains to be seen.