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Top 20 Most Dangerous Cities in Virginia: 2023 Stats

Norfolk, Virginia, USA during daytime
Doug Kerr / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

With crime rates lower than the national average, Virginia is one of the main states attracting people who want to relocate to a safe area. However, you should know that some cities in this state have very high crime rates. While finding the perfect place to live is challenging, this guide can help you find out which cities to avoid if you want to move to Virginia. 

The table below shows a quick list of statistics for the most dangerous cities in Virginia:

CityPopulationCrime rateReported crimeViolent crime
Franklin 8,180240%92616
Portsmouth 97,915224%10,341889
Galax 6,720215%68229
Colonial Heights18,170190%1,62971
South Boston7,966183%68728
Lynchburg 79,009165%6,152316
Newport News186,247159%14,0071,056
Richmond 226,610152%16,3331,068
Chesapeake 249,422147%17,2751,112
Charlottesville 46,553118%2,582157

Note: The cities are ranked from the highest to the lowest total crime rate, calculated in relation to the national average. Total crime rates include violent and non-violent crimes against persons and property and show how dangerous a city is compared to the rest of the state. Crime data in the table was sourced from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program and the Virginia State Police Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS). Community statistics and census data were sourced from the United States Census Bureau. All data is correct as of March 2022.

1. Roanoke

  • Total crime rate/100,000 people: 11,773
  • Violent crime/100,000 people: 386

People wondering what is the most dangerous city in Virginia rarely imagine the answer. Roanoke is best known for its natural surroundings and easy access to the Appalachian Trail. 

From the outside, the city looks quaint. Yet, the place has twice as many violent crimes as the rest of the state and an overall crime rate that is 249% higher than the national average. These stats earn it the first spot in the top 20 most dangerous cities in Virginia.

Like all dangerous places, Roanoke is an impoverished city. The unemployment rate is 3.6%. The median household income is $44,230, and 20.8% of residents live in poverty. Thus, it doesn’t come as a surprise that even the city councilman is accused of crime.

If you still want to visit or consider relocating, know that petty and property crime is very frequent in Downtown and other central areas. You should also avoid Morningside/Kenwood, Belmont, and Wilmot, which are the neighborhoods with the highest crime rate.

2. Franklin 

  • Total crime rate/100,000 people: 11,320
  • Violent crime/100,000 people: 195

Overall, Franklin is almost as dangerous as Roanoke despite being 12 times smaller. In fact, the city only has 8,180 residents and three neighborhoods. 

The southernmost independent city in Virginia, Franklin, has an educated population. Most residents are at least high-school graduates, and almost 20% have a bachelor’s degree. Nonetheless, the area offers limited employment opportunities, and 8.6% of residents are unemployed. 

The median income of $40,417 is even lower than Roanoke’s, but the rate of people living in poverty is also lower – 14.7%. 

Violent crime rates are only 7% higher than the average violent crime rate in Virginia. However, the rates of property and non-violent crime against persons are high. Non-aggravated assault constitutes almost half of the incidents, followed by theft, motor vehicle theft, and robbery. 

Of the three neighborhoods, City Center is the most dangerous, followed by Hunterdale/Isaac. Southampton Meadows/Cherry Groove is the largest neighborhood in Franklin, but it has the lowest crime rates.

3. Portsmouth 

  • Total crime rate/100,000 people: 10,561
  • Violent crime/100,000 people: 907

Portsmouth ranks first in the top of most violent cities in Virginia, with a violent crime rate that is 400% higher than the state average. However, it has lower overall crime than Roanoke and Franklin; hence, it only takes third place in our top. 

While most Portsmouth residents own their homes, the poverty rate is high. Over 8.5% of the labor force in the city is unemployed, and 16.8% of residents live in poverty, despite the median income of $52,175. 

The most likely cause of the high crime rate is the class difference between poor and wealthy residents. Robbery and assault make up most violent crime reports, although gun violence, murder, and rape incidents also have high rates compared to the national average. In the non-violent crime department, burglary and theft are the main crimes. 

Despite its crime rates, Portsmouth has a few quiet neighborhoods. On the list of those you should avoid, we can mention Prentis Place and Prentis Park, Westhaven Park, Norcum Park, Midtown East, and Uptown. 

4. Galax 

  • Total crime rate/100,000 people: 10,148
  • Violent crime/100,000 people: 431

Galax is the second small city that has made it to the top 5 most dangerous cities in Virginia. The settlement counts only 6,720 souls. Yet, the area has a crime rate 215% higher than the national average and a violent crime rate 57% higher than the rest of Virginia. 

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Like other small cities in the region, Galax looks welcoming at first glance. Located in the Appalachian region, it is known for its good music, rich history, and tradition. 

Too bad that history and tradition can’t ensure wealth and safety. In fact, Galax is one of the most impoverished independent cities in Virginia, with an unemployment rate of 5.2% and a median household income of $33,575 per year. Things that explain the high incidence of robbery, burglary, theft, and assault. Rape incidence is also high, the highest in the state. 

Cliffview, West Galax, City Center, and Baywood are the most dangerous neighborhoods in Galax, VA. Buck/Byllesby has lower crime, but if you want to pay Galax a visit, know that the Lambsburg area has the lowest crime rates.

5. Fredericksburg

  • Total crime rate/100,000 people: 9,556
  • Violent crime/100,000 people: 375

With a population of 27,982, Fredericksburg is known for its colonial and Civil War history. Not many know that the city also holds the title of the fifth most dangerous city in Virginia. 

Violent crime rates are similar to those of Roanoke, but the overall crime rate is slightly lower, of only 9,550 per 100,000 people. This is still incredibly high – 203% higher than the national average, to be precise. And with 375 violent crimes every 100,000 people, you have a high chance of becoming a victim.

One of the main differences between Fredericksburg and other dangerous cities is the low number of people who own their homes. In fact, 64.5% of residents are renters, which is probably one of the reasons for economic stress and higher crime. 

The median household income is $65,641 per year, but with an average rent of $1,613 per month for a one-bed apartment, it’s easy to see how most people here struggle to make ends meet. Throw in the fact that 6.1% of residents aged 16 years or older are unemployed, and that 15.5% live in poverty, and the high crime rates in Fredericksburg suddenly don’t seem so strange. 

6. Emporia

  • Total crime rate/100,000 people: 9,088
  • Violent crime/100,000 people: 208

Keeping up with the trend of dangerous small cities in Virginia, Emporia joins Franklin and Galax in the top 10 most dangerous cities in Virginia. 

Like Franklin and Galax, Emporia is an independent city that doesn’t belong to a county. It is surrounded by Greensville County and, despite being the second-least populous city in Virginia, it has some of the highest violent and non-violent crime rates. 

With a median household income of $27,063, Emporia is one of the most impoverished cities in the entire nation, let alone the state. 

The city has one of the highest unemployment rates, 10%. Moreover, 27% of people here live in poverty. 

This explains the crime trend that sees theft and burglary on the first positions. Assault and vehicle theft rates are also high, while the former can easily degenerate into aggravated assault or homicide. Rape rates are also two times higher than the state average. 

7. Colonial Heights

  • Total crime rate/100,000 people: 8,965
  • Violent crime/100,000 people: 391

Surrounded by beautiful natural areas, Colonial Heights is another city with a charming appearance but a troubled existence. 

The city’s crime rates are 190% above the national average, while the rate of violent crimes is over two times higher compared to the rest of the state. 

Although not one of the most impoverished cities in Virginia – the median household income is $54,550 – 12.1% of residents live in poverty, and 9.2% don’t even have health insurance. At 4.6%, the unemployment rate is also high. 

Like most cities, Colonial Heights sees a higher crime in its central areas, above all in the City Center. Pocahontas and Dunlop Farms are two other neighborhoods with high crime rates. Throughout the city, theft and other crimes against property constitute most incidents. 

In the past year, the area had no murders or homicides. However, there have been reported two cases of rape and eight abductions. 

8. South Boston

  • Total crime rate/100,000 people: 8,624
  • Violent crime/100,000 people: 351

Located in Halifax County, South Boston is home to the Halifax County Museum of Fine Arts and History and one of the cities along the Tobacco Heritage Trail. Despite its links to the past, the city has some of the highest crime rates in Virginia. 

Most employed residents in South Boston work in manufacturing, retail trade, or accommodation and food service. All of these sectors are notorious for the low pay rates, not to mention that unemployment rates in the city are almost 7%, and 17.1 of residents live in poverty. 

The median income is $42,311 per year, but homeowners paying a mortgage have housing-related costs of $965 per month, on average. Those renting their homes are under even higher economic stress. 

This explains the high rates of property crime, robbery, and assault. However, poverty doesn’t explain the high incidence of violent crimes, which are almost 200% higher than the state average. Like other cities in Virginia, South Boston has high rates of rape and other sex offenses, aggravated assault, and other crimes against persons. 

9. Danville

  • Total crime rate/100,000 people: 8,605
  • Violent crime/100,000 people: 263
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Another independent city in Virginia, Danville, bounds North Carolina to the south and is an important cultural hub. The city is strategically located on the Richmond and Danville railroad, and it was a major center of Confederate activity during the Civil War. 

Too bad that the high crime rates dim its historic glamor and make potential new residents think twice before coming to the area. 

Similar to the other dangerous cities in Virginia, Danville has a low median household income ($37,203), high poverty rates (22.4%), and unemployment rates of almost 8%. 

Total crime is 182% higher than the national average, and the violent crime rate is 263 per 100,000 people, higher than Franklin and Emporia. 

That doesn’t mean you can’t find quiet areas in Danville. From all neighborhoods, Lakewood, Riverside, Memorial/Sycamore, and City Center are the most dangerous. The lowest crime rates in Danville are in Brosville and Westover Hills. 

10. Lynchburg 

  • Total crime rate/100,000 people: 7,786
  • Violent crime/100,000 people: 400

With violent crime rates similar to those of Galax, Lynchburg is another dangerous city in Virginia you should think twice before visiting. 

Here, violent crime rates are over 200% higher than in the rest of the state. Total crime is lower, but the last year alone had 278 cases of aggravated assault, 69 sex offenses (including 34 cases of rape and two of sodomy), 59 abductions, and three murders

As you’d expect, the city is poor overall. The median household income corresponds to a lower-middle-class ($46,409), but 19.5% of residents live in poverty. 

Whether you want to visit or relocate, a few neighborhoods to avoid include Fairview Heights, Westend, College Hill, and Miller Park. 

11. Hopewell

  • Total crime rate/100,000 people: 7,606
  • Violent crime/100,000 people: 325

Surrounded by Prince George County, the independent city of Hopewell is as charming as a colonial city can get, but don’t let its whitewashed houses and gorgeous green spaces fool you. 

Hopewell is one of the most dangerous cities in Virginia, with total crime rates far higher than the state average and total crime rates 164% higher than the national average. Most incidents in the area refer to property crimes, such as theft, robbery, or burglary. However, in the last year, the area also registered three cases of rape from a total of 12 sex offenses, eight abductions, and six murders. 

It goes without saying that the city is poor. The median household income is $39,030 per year, and 23.6% of residents live in poverty. 

Unemployment rates are also high, while the main occupations of the employed labor force include manufacturing, retail, and food service. 

12. Newport News

  • Total crime rate/100,000 people: 7,520
  • Violent crime/100,000 people: 570

Named for Christopher Newport, Newport News is known for its shipbuilding industry and a city economy that is very connected to the military. Thus, you wouldn’t expect it to make it almost in the top ten most dangerous places in Virginia. 

Yet, Newport News is one of the most dangerous places in the state, with violent crime rates that exceed the national average by 143%. 

Income-wise, the city has a middle-class population. The median household income is $53,215, with a per-capita income of $28,294. However, the unemployment rate is high, and 15.3% of residents live in poverty.

Besides high rates of petty crime and crimes against property, Newport News has a homicide rate of 13.9 per 100,000 people and a rape rate of 36.8 per 100,000 people. 

As you’d expect, the entire Downtown and central areas have a high crime rate. Here, most incidents are theft, burglary, robbery, and pickpocketing. Towards the suburbs, a few neighborhoods to stay away from include Epes, Greenwood East, Saunders West, and Bland. 

13. Norfolk

  • Total crime rate/100,000 people: 7,294
  • Violent crime/100,000 people: 557

The fourth-largest city in Virginia, Norfolk is a lively metropolitan area and home to Norfolk State University. But despite its waterfront views, numerous amenities, and multiple attractions, the city remains one of the most dangerous in the state. 

Like Newport News, Norfolk has high violent crime rates. Compared to Newport News, Norfolk has a higher homicide incidence but a lower incidence of abductions. However, the risk of sexual assault and rape is two times higher in Norfolk than in Newport News. 

Wealth-wise, the city has a middle-class median income. However, 18.7% of residents live in poverty, and the unemployment rates are higher than the national average. 

Like most big cities, Norfolk has its good areas. However, if you find yourself in the city or plan to relocate, know that Oakwood, Chesapeake Gardens Mamie Homes, Monticello Village, Villa Heights, and Ghent North are among the most dangerous neighborhoods. 

14. Richmond 

  • Total crime rate/100,000 people: 7,207
  • Violent crime/100,000 people: 471

Only slightly smaller than Norfolk, Richmond is one of America’s oldest major cities. The place oozes history and is home to the University of Richmond. But even if it has lower crime rates compared to Norfolk, the city remains dangerous. 

Not only is it subject to high rates of non-violent crimes, but it also has the highest murder rate in Virginia. In the past year, there have been 66 cases of homicides, the highest number in the state. 

In relation to the population, the murder rate is almost 30 per 100,000 people. The risk of rape is also high, and the incidence of fondling is disturbing. However, both the rates of rape and other sex offenses remain lower than in Lynchburg. 

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Poorer than Norfolk, Richmond has a median household income of $47,250, with 23.2% of residents living in poverty. As you can expect, the entire Central District and adjacent areas have a high incidence of property crime. Other dangerous neighborhoods in Richmond include Cloverland/Fayette Park, Brook Hill, Staples Mill, Hioaks, Beaufont, and Manchester West.

15. Marion

  • Total crime rate/100,000 people: 7,163
  • Violent crime/100,000 people: 417

For a city counting less than 6,000 souls, Marion is one of the most dangerous in Virginia. Its violent crime rates are almost as high as those in Richmond, and the overall crime rates are also similar. 

The main difference is the low incidence of homicides, with no reported cases in the last year. The risk of  

It goes without saying that living conditions in Marion are challenging. The median household income is $31,544, bordering poverty, 25.1% of residents actually live in poverty, and the unemployment rates are almost two times the national average. 

From all three neighborhoods, Attoway/Furnace Hill is the most dangerous, whereas McMullin is the safest.

16. Petersburg

  • Total crime rate/100,000 people: 7,003
  • Violent crime/100,000 people: 699

Surrounded by historical and national parks, Petersburg is another of those seemingly idyllic cities that hide a rotten heart. 

In fact, it has the second-highest rate of violent crimes in the state, with a homicide rate of 71 per 100,000 people. Compared to the rest of Virginia, Petersburg has a crime rate 386% higher than the state average. 

Overall crime rates are lower compared to other cities, but still 293% higher than the state average and 148% higher than the national average. 

Like most other cities, Petersburg has a poor community. The average household income is $38,679, and 24.1% of residents live in poverty. 

Among the neighborhoods, Petersburg South, Battersea, Pocahontas, and Heights are the most dangerous.

17. Chesapeake 

  • Total crime rate/100,000 people: 6,926
  • Violent crime/100,000 people: 445

Among the most dangerous cities in Virginia, Chesapeake is one that doesn’t fit the trend. The second-largest city in the state, Chesapeake brags with a middle-class population. The median household income in the area is $78,640, and the rate of people living in poverty is lower compared to other cities on this list (8.6%). 

Nevertheless, the city remains one of the most dangerous in Virginia for overall crime and one of the most violent cities nationwide. 

While Chesapeake doesn’t have one of the highest murder rates, it has one of the highest rates of sexual assaults and rape, including sodomy and sexual assaults with objects. The risk of non-violent crimes against persons is also high, and you also risk becoming a victim of property crime. 

The neighborhoods bordering Portsmouth generally have higher crime rates compared to the other areas. However, Bells Mills and Glenleigh are equally dangerous.

18. Radford

  • Total crime rate/100,000 people: 6,316
  • Violent crime/100,000 people: 280

Talking about trends, Radford is the complete opposite of Chesapeake. This independent city offers easy access to nearby hiking areas, including the Appalachian Trail and Blue Ridge Parkway. But despite the idyllic setting, Radford is one of the most impoverished cities in the state. 

The median household income is $36,297, and 36.3% of residents live in poverty, despite the unemployment rate that is actually lower than the national average. 

The rate of violent crime is lower compared to other cities in Virginia, with most reports referring to property and non-violent crime against persons. 

Like all places, Radford has safer and more dangerous neighborhoods. The latter include the City Center, Radford Southeast, Belspring, and Radford East.

19. Suffolk

  • Total crime rate/100,000 people: 6,082
  • Violent crime/100,000 people: 286

As one of the largest cities in Virginia, Suffolk is similar to Chesapeake in that it has a middle-class community rather than an impoverished one. The median household income in the city is $74,884, and the rate of people living in poverty is lower compared to most cities on this list. 

Like all big cities, though, Suffolk has high crime rates – 129% higher than the national average. Violent crime rates are lower, though, similar to those of Radford. 

Overall, the homicide rate in the city is low. However, the rates of sexual assault and abduction are concerning, with a number of reported cases of 71 and 55, respectively.

The major incidence of crime is in the central areas of the city, where most reports include theft, robbery, and burglary. Holly Acres and Wynnewood/Huntersville are two of the most dangerous neighborhoods on the outskirts, while other unsafe areas include Magnolia, Cypress, Willowbrook, and Holy Neck East.

20. Charlottesville

  • Total crime rate/100,000 people: 5,546
  • Violent crime/100,000 people: 337

Another city in Virginia you should beware of is Charlottesville. With a population of 46,553, it is home to the University of Virginia and Jefferson’s Monticello mountain-top plantation. At first glance, nothing looks unsafe about this city. Yet, Charlottesville has an overall crime rate 118% higher than the national average. 

The violent crime rate is also higher than the average crime rate in Virginia, the city being the scene for murder, aggravated assault, rape, and abduction. 

Charlottesville has a median household income of $59,471, yet, 24.1% of residents live in poverty. One of the reasons for the high crime rates is likely the disparity between social classes. 

Among the most dangerous neighborhoods, we can mention Oak Hill, Berkeley/Commonwealth, Main-Starr Hill, Jefferson Park, as well as the area around the University of Virginia. If you’ve been admitted to the college in the city and want to live off-campus, or if you want to relocate, some of the neighborhoods to consider include Ivy and Blenheim/Overton.