Crime in Kentucky

Kentucky's crime rate

There were 97,162 crimes reported in Kentucky in 2018, the most recent year crime data is available. Adjusted for population, Kentucky's crime rate is 2,174 crimes per 100,000 residents.

How does Kentucky compare?

Crime is less common in Kentucky than it is on average nationwide. By comparison, the national crime rate of 2,580 per 100,000 people is 19% higher. Of the 50 states, 32 have a higher crime rate than Kentucky.

Crime rates nationwide range from 1,422 per 100,000 in New Hampshire to 4,276 per 100,000 in New Mexico, the states with the lowest and highest crime rates, respectively.

Here are the crime rates for all 50 states.

What types of crimes are being committed?

The FBI's crime rate includes seven crime categories: three property crimes -- larceny, burglary, and motor vehicle theft, and four violent crimes -- aggravated assault, robbery, rape, and murder.

Property crime

The vast majority of crimes in America are property crimes, accounting for 85% of total crimes in 2018. This share was slightly higher in Kentucky, with property crimes accounting for 90% of all crimes reported in the state.

There were 87,695 property crimes reported in Kentucky in 2018, or 1,963 per 100,000 residents. This is lower than the national rate of 2,200 property crimes per 100,000 people and is the 19th lowest rate of the 50 states.

Larceny

Larceny is by far the most common type of property crime. The 5,217,055 reported incidents nationwide in 2018 accounted for 72% of all property crime. Kentucky's rate of 1,348 reported larceny incidents per 100,000 residents is lower than the nationwide rate of 1,595 per 100,000 and is the 16th lowest among states.

Burglary

An estimated 17,190 break-ins were reported in Kentucky in 2018, or 385 per 100,000 state residents -- the 22nd highest rate among states. For reference, there were an estimated 1,230,149 break-ins nationwide, or 376 break-ins per 100,000 people.

Motor vehicle theft

Across the U.S., there were 748,841 reported motor vehicle thefts in 2018, a rate of 229 per 100,000 people. Kentucky's rate of 230 motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 residents was roughly the same as this national rate and the 24th highest rate compared to all states.

Violent crime

Violent crimes make up a small share of crimes nationwide. In Kentucky, violent crimes account for just 10% of total crimes, versus 15% nationwide.

While Kentucky has the 18th lowest total crime rate of all states, it has the seventh lowest violent crime rate. The state’s violent crime rate of 212 per 100,000 people is considerably lower than the national rate of 381 per 100,000. There were 9,467 violent crimes reported to Kentucky law enforcement agencies in 2018.

Aggravated assault

Aggravated assault is by far the most common type of violent crime. Nationwide, there were 807,410 aggravated assaults in 2018, accounting for 65% of violent crimes across the country. In Kentucky, 5,059 aggravated assaults were reported in 2018. Kentucky's rate of aggravated assault of 113 per 100,000 people is less than half the national rate of 247 per 100,000 and is the third lowest of all states.

Robbery

Robbery is the second most common type of violent crime in America. There were 2,457 robberies reported in Kentucky in 2018, or 55 robberies for every 100,000 residents. This is lower than the national rate of 86 robberies per 100,000 people, and the 19th lowest robbery rate among states.

Rape

There were 1,707 reported rapes in 2018 in Kentucky. The state's rate of rape of 38.2 per 100,000 residents is lower than the national rate of 42.6 per 100,000 people. Kentucky has the 16th lowest rate of rape.

Murder

In 2018, there were 244 murders reported to law enforcement in Kentucky. The state’s murder rate of 5.5 per 100,000 residents is higher than the national rate of 5.0 per 100,000. Kentucky's murder rate is the 18th highest in the country.

Where are these crimes being committed?

Because crime is influenced by local circumstances, crime levels vary considerably within each state. Often a state’s dense urban areas will have higher crime rates than its rural areas. Even in a state with an exceptionally low crime rate, there is often at least one area where crime rates exceed the nation.

City with the highest crime rate in Kentucky

The city with the highest total crime rate in Kentucky is Bowling Green, with a crime rate of 5,156 per 100,000 residents. This excludes cities with a population below 5,000 and cities with incomplete FBI crime reports.

While the city may have the highest total crime rate in the state, the rate is driven by property crime. Therefore, Bowling Green is likely less dangerous than other cities in the state where more violent crimes are committed.

The most dangerous city in the state is Oak Grove. This city has the highest violent crime rate in Kentucky, at 415 per 100,000 residents, nearly double the statewide rate.

Crime over time

National historical trend

The FBI provides access to crime data by state dating back to 1960. This nearly 60-year span, can be divided into three periods. Crime skyrocketed between 1960 and 1980, with the crime rate more than tripling in just 20 years from 1,887 crimes per 100,000 Americans to 5,950 crimes per 100,000 Americans.

Crime remained high in the 1980s and reached its second highest peak in 1991. Since that year, crime has fallen steadily nationwide, reaching its current rate of 2,580 per 100,000, a 56% decline in 27 years.

Kentucky's historical trend

In 1960, Kentucky's crime rate was 1,213 crimes per 100,000 residents. Crime peaked in the state in 1982 at 3,568 per 100,000, an increase of 194%.

Crime changes 2013-2018

Over the five years since 2013, the nationwide total crime rate has decreased by 16.8%, but this change varied dramatically between states. In New Hampshire, for example, the crime rate decreased by 43.6%, the largest decline of any state. The largest increase was in Alaska, where crime rose by 19.0% between 2013 and 2018.

With a decrease of 15.9%, Kentucky's crime rate has fallen by about the same amount as the country as a whole. The crime rate declined in 47 states over this time period, and in most of them, it declined faster than in Kentucky.

How Kentucky has compared to other states historically

Since 1960, Kentucky has always had a lower crime rate than the majority of states. Over these 59 years, the state has been among the 10 states with the lowest crime rates in 37 of them, but never among the states with the highest crime rates.

All cities in Kentucky

Here are all Kentucky cities ranked by total crime rate. For a city to be included, it must have a complete 2018 FBI crime report and population of 5,000 or more. Click any bar or city name to see more about crime in that city.

Click here to see a list of all city crime pages.

Click here to see a list of all state crime pages.