In a recent post here on the Movoto Real Estate Blog, Pennsylvania ranked the No. 20 safest state in the U.S. Of course, this should come as no surprise to residents of the Quaker State, and particularly not if they live in one of the 10 places below. That’s because these 10 places are the very safest in the state. Here are these safe spots, starting with our winner, South Park: 1. Township of South Park
2. Borough of Franklin Park
3. City of Lower Burrell
4. Borough of Elizabethtown
5. Borough of Emmaus (tie)
5. Borough of Waynesboro (tie)
7. Borough of State College
8. Borough of Plum
9. Borough of Ephrata
10. City of Greensburg
To find out how we came up with this list, keep reading. In the following paragraphs, we’ll go over the method of our analysis, plus we’ll take a closer look at what makes each of these places safer than the rest.

Our Methodology

We started by gathering a list of all of the places in Pennsylvania with populations of 10,000 people or more, which left us with a total of 59 places. Then, we used the 2012 FBI Uniform Crime Report to collect crime data on each place for 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
From there, we calculated the crime rates for each place per 100,000 people to more fairly compare places with larger populations to those with smaller populations. We then ranked each place in each category from one to 59, with the lower numbers meaning safer places. Finally, we weighted each category so that murders, violent crimes, and property crimes accounted for 30 percent of the overall score, while total crimes made up 10 percent. We averaged these adjusted rankings into one overall Big Deal Score, where the lowest score was our safest place. We’ll take a closer look at each of our top 10 places next, but if you’d like to see a table of how the top 50 safest places in the state ranked, head down to the bottom of this post.

1. South Park

Safest Places in Pennsylvania
Source: Wikimedia user Lee Paxton
The Township of South Park, just outside of Pittsburgh, came in at the top of our list for ranking No.1 in all of the categories. With just 401 total crimes per 100,000 people in 2012—that’s 372 property crimes and 29 violent crimes—it had the lowest crime rate out of anywhere in the state. To break that down further, of the 372 property crimes, 30 were vehicle thefts, 238 thefts, and 104 burglaries. Of the 29 violent crimes, there were no murders, no rapes, seven robberies, and 22 assaults. With such a low total number of crimes, residents in South Park had the lowest odds of being the victim of a crime, with just a one in 249 chance.

2. Franklin Park

Safest Places in Pennsylvania
Source: Wikimedia user Lee Paxton
In 2012, Franklin Park place had just 428 crimes per 100,000 people, including 384 property crimes and 44 violent crimes. Residents had just a 1 in 234 chance of being the victim of a crime. To put that into better perspective, let’s take a look at a similarly sized place, Butler. This city of just under 14,000 residents had a total of 5,046 crimes per 100,000 people, including 4,418 property crimes and 628 violent crimes, 14 of which were murders. Residents in this city had a 1 in 20 chance of being the victim of a crime.

3. Lower Burrell

Safest Places in Pennsylvania
Source: Wikimedia user Lee Paxton
If you’re interested in moving to the Pittsburgh area, this city just northeast of downtown is clearly the safer option. For instance, in 2012, Lower Burrell had just 102 violent crimes per 100,000 people—the fifth lowest number in the state. Pittsburgh, on the other hand, had 751, including 13 murders. Where Lower Burrell had just 1,497 property crimes per 100,000 people, Pittsburgh had 3,425.

4. Elizabethtown

Safest Places in Pennsylvania
Source: Wikimedia user Lee Paxton
This borough in Lancaster County had just 1,545 property crimes and 120 violent crimes, for a total of 1,665 crimes per 100,000 people in 2012. Of those 1,545 property crimes, there were 17 vehicle thefts, 1,348 thefts, and 180 burglaries. The violent crimes included 17 assaults, 60 robberies, 43 rapes, and no murders per 100,000 people. Considering the fact that most places had well over 300 or 400 violent crimes—and in the case of Chester, over 2,000 violent crimes—well, it’s no wonder Elizabethtown made the list.

5. Emmaus

Safest Places in Pennsylvania
Source: Wikimedia user Shuvaev
This borough, ranked in recent years one of the “Best Places to Live” in the U.S. by “Money Magazine,” is well known as a safe and family-friendly community. That’s because it is one of the least violent places in the state, with just 97 violent crimes per 100,000 people in 2012. Of those violent crimes, there were no murders, no rapes, 62 robberies, and just 35 assaults. Additionally, Emmaus had a reported 2,231 property crimes per 100,000 people in 2012, most of which were thefts. This may not be as low as, say, South Park where there were only 372, but compared to places like Harrisburg or New Castle where there were over 4,500 property crimes per 100,000 people, Emmaus looks pretty good.

5. Waynesboro

Safest Places in Pennsylvania
Source: Flickr user Jon Dawson
With just over 10,600 residents, Waynesboro is one of the smaller places on our overall list, and the smallest place in our top 10. This cozy community ranked particularly well for its lack of violent crime in 2012—just 168 crimes per 100,000 people. This included no murders, nine rapes, 37 robberies, and 122 assaults. In addition, Waynesboro reported 309 burglaries, 1,678 thefts, and 75 vehicle thefts, for a total of 2,230 crimes per 100,000 people for the year.

7. State College

Safest Places in Pennsylvania
Source: Flickr user Jon Dawson
This college town is often referred to as “Happy Valley,” and after looking at these numbers, it’s no wonder why. In 2012, State College had one of the lowest numbers of violent crime in the state, with just 93 violent crimes per 100,000 people. It also had an impressively low number of property crimes per 100,000 people: just 1,381. Why, then, did it rank No. 7 and not No. 2 or 3? Unfortunately, there were two murders per 100,000 people in 2012, which bumped it down the list, though all told, residents still only had a 1 in 68 chance of being the victim of a crime.

8. Plum

Safest Places in Pennsylvania
Source: Flickr user Jon Dawson
This Allegheny County borough is plum safe, according to the 2012 crime report, particularly when it comes to property crime—or lack thereof. There were just 709 property crimes per 100,000 people in the community for the year, which included 26 vehicle thefts, 507 thefts, and 176 burglaries. Because of this low property crime number, along with 367 violent crimes, Plum had a low number of overall crimes, just 1,076 per 100,000, giving residents just a 1 in 93 chance of being the victim of a crime.

9. Ephrata

Safest Places in Pennsylvania
Source: Flickr user Doug Kerr
In 2012, Ephrata had the 15th and 16th lowest number of property crimes and violent crimes, respectively, making it one of the safest places in the state. Specifically, Ephrata had 2,114 property crimes per 100,000 residents, which included 44 vehicle thefts, 1,796 thefts, and 274 burglaries. It also had a reported 207 violent crimes per 100,000 people, including 111 assaults, 74 robberies, 22 rapes, and no murders. That’s almost 10 times less violent crimes per 100,000 people than the City of Chester, which came in as the most violent in the places that we looked at.

10. Greensburg

Safest Places in Pennsylvania
Source: Flickr user Jon Dawson
The final spot on our list went to Greensburg, a center of business, culture, tourism, and academics in Westmoreland County. One reason behind this city’s popularity may be its underlying safety, as evidenced in these numbers. In 2012, Greensburg had the 11th lowest violent crime rate in the state, with just 175 violent crimes per 100,000 people. These 175 crimes were made up of no murders, seven rapes, 54 robberies, and 114 assaults. Additionally, Greensburg saw 2,397 property crimes, for a total of 2,572 crimes per 100,000 people; the 17th lowest in the state.

Living Safely In Pennsylvania

If you’re one of the lucky residents of any of these 10 places, living in safety is easy enough for you to do. Of course not all Pennsylvania residents are so safe. In fact, the largest number of Pennsylvanians are located in Philadelphia, which ranked as one of the more dangerous places, at 53rd on this list. So if after looking at these rankings, you’re feeling it might be time for a change, well, get in touch. Because that’s what we do—we sell houses—and we know just how important it is to find a safe place to live. Maybe a place like South Park, which we hear is pretty fantastic. Featured image: Flickr user David Safest Places In Pennsylvania