Crime in West Virginia

West Virginia's crime rate

There were 32,063 crimes reported in West Virginia in 2018, the most recent year crime data is available. Adjusted for population, West Virginia's crime rate is 1,776 crimes per 100,000 residents.

How does West Virginia compare?

Crime is less common in West Virginia than it is on average nationwide. By comparison, the national crime rate of 2,580 per 100,000 people is 45% higher. Of the 50 states, 43 have a higher crime rate than West Virginia.

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 roughly the same in West Virginia, with property crimes accounting for 84% of all crimes reported in the state.

There were 26,827 property crimes reported in West Virginia in 2018, or 1,486 per 100,000 residents. This is far lower than the national rate of 2,200 property crimes per 100,000 people and is the eighth 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. West Virginia's rate of 1,050 reported larceny incidents per 100,000 residents is lower than the nationwide rate of 1,595 per 100,000 and is the fourth lowest among states.

Burglary

An estimated 5,354 break-ins were reported in West Virginia in 2018, or 297 per 100,000 state residents -- the 17th 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. West Virginia's rate of 140 motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 residents was lower than this national rate and the 10th lowest rate compared to all states.

Violent crime

Violent crimes make up a small share of crimes nationwide. In West Virginia, violent crimes account for 16% of total crimes, versus 15% nationwide.

While West Virginia has the seventh lowest total crime rate of all states, it has the 20th lowest violent crime rate. The state’s violent crime rate of 290 per 100,000 people is lower than the national rate of 381 per 100,000. There were 5,236 violent crimes reported to West Virginia 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 West Virginia, 3,945 aggravated assaults were reported in 2018. West Virginia's rate of aggravated assault of 218 per 100,000 people is lower than the national rate of 247 per 100,000 and is the 24th lowest of all states.

Robbery

Robbery is the second most common type of violent crime in America. There were 572 robberies reported in West Virginia in 2018, or 32 robberies for every 100,000 residents. This is less than half the national rate of 86 robberies per 100,000 people, and the 10th lowest robbery rate among states.

Rape

There were 652 reported rapes in 2018 in West Virginia. The state's rate of rape of 36.1 per 100,000 residents is lower than the national rate of 42.6 per 100,000 people. West Virginia has the 15th lowest rate of rape.

Murder

In 2018, there were 67 murders reported to law enforcement in West Virginia. The state’s murder rate of 3.7 per 100,000 residents is lower than the national rate of 5.0 per 100,000. West Virginia's murder rate is the 23rd 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 West Virginia

The city with the highest total crime rate in West Virginia is Charleston, with a crime rate of 6,707 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, Charleston is likely less dangerous than other cities in the state where more violent crimes are committed.

The most dangerous city in the state is Bluefield. This city has the highest violent crime rate in West Virginia, at 940 per 100,000 residents, more than 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.

West Virginia's historical trend

In 1960, West Virginia's crime rate was 721 crimes per 100,000 residents. Crime peaked in the state in 2006 at 2,918 per 100,000, an increase of 305%.

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 27.8%, West Virginia's crime rate has fallen much faster than the country as a whole. The crime rate declined in 47 states over this time period, but in most of them, it declined slower than in West Virginia.

How West Virginia has compared to other states historically

Since 1960, West Virginia 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 48 of them, but never among the states with the highest crime rates. Notably, West Virginia has been the state with the lowest crime rate in the country in 31 years since 1960, by far the most of any state.

All cities in West Virginia

Here are all West Virginia 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.