In 2020, the crime rate fell in Texas. A report from the Texas Department of Public Safety calculated the Lone Star State’s rate for violent and property offenses in 2020 was an aggregate of 2,666.7 crimes per 100,000 residents (based on an estimated population of 29.4 million), a decrease of 4% from 2019. (See where Texas ranks among America’s most dangerous states.)
Not all types of criminal offenses decreased, though. The state saw a rise in violent crimes last year, which were up 6.6% over 2019. Property crimes, however, decreased 5.9% from the previous year. The FBI defines property crime as offenses including burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson. Violent crime includes murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, rаpe, robbery, and aggravated assault. (Here are 25 cities where murders are on the rise.)
Even as the state as a whole experienced less crime in 2020 than the previous year, several cities in Texas were plagued by high levels of criminal activity.
To determine the 25 most dangerous cities in Texas, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data on violent crimes from the FBI’s Crime Data Explorer. Cities and towns with a population of at least 2,500 were ranked based on the number of violent crimes reported in 2020 per 100,000 residents. Data on population and property crimes also came from the FBI. Supplemental data on median household income and poverty rate came from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey and are five-year estimates.
Experts have debated the root causes of crime for decades. One factor often cited is poverty. In 2018, the Brookings Institution released a study of more than 2.2 million prisoners suggesting a link between high crime rates and poverty. The report stated “Three years prior to incarceration, only 49% of prime-age men are employed, and, when employed, their median earnings were only $6,250.” Their economic situation doesn’t improve much after leaving prison.
In the 25 cities listed here, the poverty rate ranges from a scant 0.5% to a 30.8% in the community rated as most dangerous — Palmview, a city of 5,806 near the Mexican border. That’s more than double the national average of 11.4%. Violent crimes there totaled 108 last year, for a ratio of 1,860.1 per 100,000 residents. Meanwhile, property crimes reached 276, adding up to 4,753.7 per 100,000 residents.
On the other hand, No. 4 on the list, Houston, had a much lower poverty rate of 0.5%. But its high crime rate is likely due to its sizable population of nearly 2.3 million. More people in a crowded metropolitan area tends to lead to more opportunities to commit crimes.