Crime in Massachusetts

Massachusetts's crime rate

There were 110,533 crimes reported in Massachusetts in 2018, the most recent year crime data is available. Adjusted for population, Massachusetts's crime rate is 1,601 crimes per 100,000 residents.

How does Massachusetts compare?

Crime is less common in Massachusetts than it is on average nationwide. By comparison, the national crime rate of 2,580 per 100,000 people is 61% higher. Of the 50 states, 46 have a higher crime rate than Massachusetts.

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 lower in Massachusetts, with property crimes accounting for 79% of all crimes reported in the state.

There were 87,196 property crimes reported in Massachusetts in 2018, or 1,263 per 100,000 residents. This is far lower than the national rate of 2,200 property crimes per 100,000 people and is the second 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. Massachusetts's rate of 967 reported larceny incidents per 100,000 residents is lower than the nationwide rate of 1,595 per 100,000 and is the lowest among states.

Burglary

An estimated 13,862 break-ins were reported in Massachusetts in 2018, or 201 per 100,000 state residents -- the fourth lowest 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. Massachusetts's rate of 96 motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 residents was less than half this national rate and the fifth lowest rate compared to all states.

Violent crime

Violent crimes make up a small share of crimes nationwide. In Massachusetts, violent crimes account for 21% of total crimes, versus 15% nationwide.

While Massachusetts has the fourth lowest total crime rate of all states, it has the 25th lowest violent crime rate. The state’s violent crime rate of 338 per 100,000 people is lower than the national rate of 381 per 100,000. There were 23,337 violent crimes reported to Massachusetts 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 Massachusetts, 16,648 aggravated assaults were reported in 2018. Massachusetts's rate of aggravated assault of 241 per 100,000 people is roughly the same as the national rate of 247 per 100,000 and is the 24th highest of all states.

Robbery

Robbery is the second most common type of violent crime in America. There were 4,143 robberies reported in Massachusetts in 2018, or 60 robberies for every 100,000 residents. This is lower than the national rate of 86 robberies per 100,000 people, and the 22nd lowest robbery rate among states.

Rape

There were 2,410 reported rapes in 2018 in Massachusetts. The state's rate of rape of 34.9 per 100,000 residents is lower than the national rate of 42.6 per 100,000 people. Massachusetts has the 11th lowest rate of rape.

Murder

In 2018, there were 136 murders reported to law enforcement in Massachusetts. The state’s murder rate of 2.0 per 100,000 residents is less than half the national rate of 5.0 per 100,000. Massachusetts's murder rate is the 10th lowest 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 Massachusetts

The city with the highest total crime rate in Massachusetts is Holyoke, with a crime rate of 5,019 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, Holyoke is likely less dangerous than other cities in the state where more violent crimes are committed.

The most dangerous city in the state is Fall River. This city has the highest violent crime rate in Massachusetts, at 1,015 per 100,000 residents, triple 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.

Massachusetts's historical trend

In 1960, Massachusetts's crime rate was 1,219 crimes per 100,000 residents. Crime peaked in the state in 1980 at 6,079 per 100,000, an increase of 399%.

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 34.7%, Massachusetts's crime rate has fallen more than twice as fast as the country as a whole. The crime rate declined in 47 states over this time period, but in almost all of them, it declined slower than in Massachusetts.

How Massachusetts has compared to other states historically

Since 1960, Massachusetts has typically 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 nine of them, but never among the states with the highest crime rates.

All cities in Massachusetts

Here are all Massachusetts 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.