When most people think of California, crime is not one of the first things that pops into their minds. Surfing, sunshine, even mountains, and forests, sure; but violence and theft? Well, it really depends on where you’re talking about. So today at the Movoto Real Estate blog, we’re going to talk about those places. Here are the 10 most dangerous places in California, starting with the most dangerous, Emeryville:

 

1. City of Emeryville
2. City of Oakland
3. City of Stockton
4. City of San Bernardino
5. City of San Pablo
6. City of Richmond
7. City of Merced
8. City of Commerce
9. City of Modesto
10. City of Clearlake

 

Some of these may not be too surprising, but others might have you scratching your head. Don’t worry, we’ll explain what makes each of these cities so dangerous, but first, we’ll go over the method of our analysis.

Our Methodology

Just like our other Big Deal Lists, we began this dangerous journey by gathering up all of the places in California with populations of 10,000 people or more. Then, we used the 2012 FBI Uniform Crime Report to look at each of these places in terms of the following criteria:

  • Murder
  • Rape
  • Robbery
  • Assault
  • Burglary
  • Theft
  • Vehicle theft

We divided these crimes into four categories:

  • Murders
  • Violent crimes
  • Property crimes
  • Total crimes

After eliminating any places that didn’t report crime data that year (which does happen), we were left with a grand total of 365 places to look at. From there, we calculated each place’s number of crimes per capita (per person) so that we could best compare cities and places of all sizes. With our crimes per person calculated, we ranked each place with a score from 1 to 365 in each category, where scores closer to one were the more dangerous places. Next, we weighted murders, violent crimes, and property crimes to make up 30 percent of the overall score, while the total number of crimes made up just 10 percent. Finally, we averaged each place’s weighted scores into one Big Deal Score, where the lowest score was our most dangerous place in California. We’ve included a table of the 50 most dangerous places in California at the end of the post. First, though, let’s take a closer look at each of our top 10.

  • This ranking is not a critique of police practices or effectiveness. It is simply an analysis of where crimes occurred.

1. Emeryville

Most Dangerous Places in California

Source: Flickr user Paul Sullivan

With just over 10,000 residents, Emeryville was easily the smallest place in our top 10 and even one of the smaller places we looked at. Here’s why: in 2012, Emeryville had the highest number of crimes per person in the state. Sure, 1,910 total crimes may not seem like a lot (especially compared to our next city), but considering the small population size, it really was. This was due to both its high number of violent crimes per person (the second highest in the state) and its high number of property crimes per person (the highest in the state). All told, Emeryville residents had just a 1 in 5 chance of being the victim of a crime.

2. Oakland

Most Dangerous Places in California

Source: Flickr user Ryan Lackey

In 2012, Oakland had the most murders per person and the most violent crimes in general per person. It also had the fifth highest number of property crimes per person, making for a total of 12,885 crimes that year, or the third most total crimes per capita in the state.

3. Stockton

Most Dangerous Places in California

Source: Flickr user Sharon Hahn Darlin

We’ll start with the good news: Out of 365 places, Stockton only came in at 12th for its number of property crimes per capita. In 2012, Stockton had the third most violent crimes per person in California, which included the fourth most murders per person. To be more specific, this was a total of 71 murders and 4,630 violent crimes in one year.

4. San Bernardino

Most Dangerous Places in California

Source: Wikimedia user Swatcop92407

One of San Bernardino’s nicknames may be “The Friendly City,” but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s safe. In fact, in 2012, it had the eighth most murders per person in California. (Which really doesn’t seem all that friendly.) It also had the 14th most violent crimes in general and the 19th most property crimes, all adding up to the 14th most total crimes per person in the state. Residents had a 1 in 17 chance of being the victim of a crime.

5. San Pablo

Most Dangerous Places in California

Source: Flickr user Bob n Renee

San Pablo and our next city, which surrounds it almost entirely, are like two peas in a pod—if by peas you mean very dangerous cities and pod you mean California. San Pablo in particular had the sixth highest number of murders per person in 2012. With a total of 277 violent crimes that year, it also had the 15th most violent crimes per person in the state, and with a total of 1,459 property crimes, the 20th most property crimes per person. All in all, San Pablo residents had a 1 in 17 chance of being the victim of a crime.

6. Richmond

Most Dangerous Places in California

Source: Flickr user nick fullerton

This city is almost as dangerous as the city it surrounds (see above). In 2012, Richmond had some of the most violent crimes in the state—the ninth most per person. Specifically, there were a total of 717 assaults, 391 robberies, 36 rapes, and a whopping 18 murders that year. This means that Richmond not only had a high number of violent crimes in general, but the 13th highest number of murders per person in the state. It also had the 27th highest number of property crimes per person, all adding up to the 15th highest number of total crimes per person for the year.

7. Merced

Most Dangerous Places in California

Source: Flickr user Keith Chastain

This city ranked in our top 10 for having a high number of crimes, pretty much across the board. For example, with 810 total violent crimes it had the 12th highest number of violent crimes per person in 2012, including the 28th highest number of murders per person. It also had the 14th highest number of property crimes per person, which added up to equal 4,921 total crimes, or the 11th highest number of total crimes per person in California.

8. Commerce

Most Dangerous Places in California

Source: Flickr user jojolae

Luckily, there were fewer murders per person here than in any of the other places in our top 10 (it ranked No. 42 in this category), but that didn’t necessarily mean that it wasn’t violent (it ranked No. 18 in this category). The main reason it ranked so high on our list, though, was for its high number of property crimes, and therefore total crimes. With a total of 1,010 property crimes in 2012 and a population of just over 13,000 people, Commerce had the second most property crime per person. Its high number of violent crimes and property crimes all added up to a total of 1,122 crimes for the year—the second most per person in the state.

9. Modesto

Most Dangerous Places in California

Source: Flickr user Loyd Schutte

In 2012, Modesto had the 10th highest number of property crimes per person in the state. These were mostly thefts, but there were also an alarmingly high number of burglaries. Modesto also had the 23rd highest number of violent crimes, including the 30th most murders per person, all adding up to the 10th most crimes per person in the state.

10. Clearlake

Most Dangerous Places in California

Source: Flickr user Flickred!

The final spot on our list goes to the small city of Clearlake. This Lake County city had a high number of crimes in general, but in particular, the eighth highest number of violent crimes per person. This was mostly made up of assaults, but unfortunately, also included two murders, giving it the 19th most murders per capita. This, plus its ranking as 35th for its number of property crimes per person, added up to give it the 23rd most total crimes per person in the state, and of course, the final spot on our list.

You’re Still Golden, California

California is a lot of things—it is beautiful, sunny, cloudy, a great place to surf, a great place to hike… the place is huge, so it’s really no surprise that it has a little bit of everything. On the downside, that includes crime (as you’ve seen), but on the upside, it includes some very safe cities as well.

For Media Inquiries, Contact:
Randy Nelson
rnelson@movoto.com

Most Dangerous Places In California