Violent crime—especially gun violence—is nabbing headlines around the country, particularly in the country’s biggest cities. But which major metros report the highest numbers of crimes across the board?
To find out, we looked at the most recent FBI data for America’s major metro areas. And even though violent crime seems to be soaring in 2021 (so much so that The White House released a plan to attack the surge in gun violence), both violent and property crime rates fell year over year—even in the nation’s most dangerous big cities.
This gives us hope that this year’s headlines may signify more of a blip than a trend—especially if you look at the cities with highest crime rate. Find out what the numbers mean in our full analysis of crime rates. We also explore crucial factors that impact life in the big US cities that report the most crime.
Here are the 10 most dangerous cities in the US for 2021
1. Anchorage, Alaska
2. Memphis, Tennessee Mississippi-Arkansas
3. Lubbock, Texas
4. Detroit-Dearborn-Livonia, Michigan
5. Springfield, Missouri
6. San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, California
7. Corpus Christi, Texas
8. Shreveport-Bossier City, Louisiana
9. Stockton, California
10. Bakersfield, California
How these cities ranked most dangerous
When it comes to looking at crime rates and trends across the most populous areas of the US, we decided it made more sense to compare metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) instead of standalone big cities. MSAs include both major “anchor” cities and the outlying communities that have high social and economic integration with the anchor city. So combining them paints a more accurate picture of both crime and the socioeconomic factors that impact the quality of life for residents.
What it’s like to live in the most dangerous metro areas in America
Big-city life is fast paced, exciting, and full of challenges. More people, more problems (am I right?). We examined socioeconomic and lifestyle factors among the most dangerous cities in the US—like poverty rate, high school graduation rate, and median household income.
How has crime changed in the last year in the most dangerous metros?
Crime rates in both the safest and most dangerous metros saw bigger drops year over year than the nation did overall. During a time where homicides and gun violence seem to be on the rise, this is good news.
Year over year, the violent crime rate in the US held steady at 3.7 incidents per 1,000 people. But in the most dangerous metros, violent crime fell 6%, from 8.4 incidents per 1,000 to 7.9.
Interesting safest and most dangerous metro findings
Most dangerous metro area in America: Anchorage, AK
For the second year in a row, Anchorage, AK ranks as the most dangerous metro area in America. Here’s why it ranks first:
- In Anchorage, your risk of being a victim of a property crime is 1 in 23, based on the latest FBI crime data. Your risk of being a victim of violent crime is 1 in 84.
- By comparison, your risk of being the victim of a property crime in Rockingham County-Strafford County, NH (our safest metro), is 1 in 93. Your risk of being a victim of violent crime is 1 in 1,017.
State with the most dangerous metro areas: California
California has the most high-crime metro areas of any state, with 3 metros landing in our top 10 most dangerous (and all are new to our list this year):
- San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, number 6
- Stockton, number 9
- Bakersfield, number 10
Metro area with the most murders: Detroit
Out of the top 10 most dangerous metros on our list, Detroit had the highest number of murder and non-negligent manslaughter incidents with 313.
- That’s more murders than in the top 10 safest metros combined (that grand total is 171—45% fewer than Detroit).
Grand theft auto: Many cars swiped in the most dangerous metros
Car theft was big business during the pandemic lockdowns in 2020. These metro areas were already ahead of the trend.
- 36,571 motor vehicle thefts were reported in the 10 most dangerous metros.
- Just 8,013 car thefts were reported in the 10 safest.