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Safest cities in America 2023: Violent crime rate increases drive per capita cost of crime

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January 31, 2023

This story was produced by MoneyGeek.com and reviewed and distributed by Stacker Media.

Safest cities in America 2023: Violent crime rate increases drive per capita cost of crime

Despite progress overall, crime still impacts America's communities. Crime and safety are intertwined with prosperity, income and economic opportunity. Crime is costly to individual victims, perpetrators, communities and society at large.

MoneyGeek's annual analysis looks at the most recent crime statistics from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to estimate the cost of crime in 263 cities with populations greater than 100,000 across the United States. The analysis pairs reported crime statistics with academic research on the societal costs of different types of crimes to estimate the cost of crime for each city. 


  • The cost of crime per capita in U.S. cities was $1,836 in 2021, up 6%, or $100 per capita since 2020.
  • Naperville, Illinois, retained its No. 1 rank as the safest city overall ($156 per capita); St. Louis, Missouri, also kept its rank as the most dangerous city, with the highest per capita crime ($8,457).
  • Mass shootings represented 4% of the total cost of crime in 2021, but are up 33% compared to 2020. Boulder, Colorado, had the highest societal costs due to mass shootings ($108.6 million).
Map of the United States showing the top 15 safest cities in the country.
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The 15 Safest Cities in America

MoneyGeek ranked 263 cities with populations over 100,000 people from most to least safe in this analysis. The following summaries show the safest cities overall and the safest large cities from the analysis and their per capita cost of crime.

  1. Naperville, IL - $156 cost of crime per capita
  2. Sunnyvale, CA - $156
  3. West Covina, CA - $181
  4. Carmel, IN - $205
  5. Glendale, AZ - $210
  6. Meridian, ID - $230
  7. Provo, UT - $245
  8. Joliet, IL - $247
  9. Jurupa Valley, CA - $253
  10. Sugar Land, TX - $260
  11. McAllen, TX - $268
  12. El Monte, CA - $277
  13. Rancho Cucamonga, CA - $283
  14. Glendale, CA - $299
  15. Pearland, TX - $302


  1. Honolulu, HI - $528 cost of crime per capita
  2. Virginia Beach, VA - $550
  3. Henderson, NV - $805
  4. El Paso, TX - $837
  5. New York, NY - $863
  6. San Diego, CA - $963
  7. Mesa, AZ - $1,069
  8. Charlotte, NC - $1,073
  9. San Jose, CA - $1,106
  10. Boston, MA - $1,119
  11. Raleigh, NC - $1,149
  12. Arlington, TX - $1,264
  13. Santa Ana, CA - $1,416
  14. Omaha, NE - $1,503
  15. Austin, TX - $1,577
Map of the United States showing the top 15 most dangerous cities in the country.
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The 15 Most Dangerous Cities

There's an ongoing stereotype that larger cities are more dangerous. While no larger cities (population of 300,000 or more) made the overall safest list, fewer than half of the 15 least-safe cities in the U.S. The most dangerous cities were determined from the analysis by their per capita cost of crime.

  1. St. Louis, MO - $8,457 cost of crime per capita
  2. Mobile, AL - $8,014
  3. Birmingham, AL - $7,900
  4. Baltimore, MD - $7,230
  5. Memphis, TN - $7,184
  6. Detroit, MI - $6,780
  7. Cleveland, OH - $6,491
  8. New Orleans, LA - $6,444
  9. Shreveport, LA - $6,344
  10. Baton Rouge, LA - $5,739
  11. Little Rock, AR - $5,374
  12. Oakland, CA - $5,329
  13. Milwaukee, WI - $5,243
  14. Kansas City, MO - $4,884
  15. Philadelphia, PA - $4,755

Mass Shootings in American Cities Are Getting Worse

Mass shootings are a particular scourge on American life. According to Gun Violence Archive, which defines mass shootings as any single incident in which four or more people are shot, there were 648 mass shootings in 2022 and 18 as of January 9, 2023.

Mass shooting events are included in our safest and most dangerous cities rankings. Though they are relatively rare, we do not adjust our rankings for these events. The emotional impact of mass shootings is incalculable, traumatizing families and entire communities. To quantify the economic impact, MoneyGeek calculated the total cost of mass shootings in 2021 to be $8 billion — that's about 4% of the total cost of crime in the approximately 263 cities analyzed and a 33% increase in costs from 2020 to 2021.


  1. Boulder, CO - $108,651,414
  2. San Jose, CA - $108,393,140
  3. Indianapolis, IN - $98,457,785
  4. Atlanta, GA - $86,843,649
  5. Colorado Springs, CO - $75,875,198

Safety and the Cost of Crime

The direct economic costs of crime to individuals and society include victim medical and mental health care needs, damage to and loss of property and police and corrections costsAside from the imminent danger of crime, people living in higher crime areas see depressed home values and pay higher premiums on average for home insurance, renters insurance and auto insurance.

To assess the safest cities, MoneyGeek analyzed crime data, including violent crimes such as murder, rape and aggravated assault and property crimes such as home burglary and motor vehicle theft. This list calculated each city's cost of crime and ranked the cities based on the cost of crime per capita. Additionally, researchers have quantified how much more violent crimes cost a community than property crimes.

While perceptions of safety are vital, crime statistics do not capture any city or community's whole story.

"Behind all these averages that people like to cite about the crime rates in different communities are individual people and their decisions about how they choose to engage in their community," says Jesse Bruhn, Annenberg assistant professor of education and economics at Brown University who researches education issues and inner-city gang violence. "There's a lot more heterogeneity in these patterns that we just can't measure."

Despite genuine threats, Bruhn says, it may be surprising how safe people can feel in neighborhoods with high crime rates.

Aerial view of San Diego, California.
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To rank the safest cities in the United States, this analysis started with standardized crime statistics reported to the FBI from 2021, the latest year of available data. The population of each city was added to the analysis to determine crime rates per 100,000 people, and this information was also accessed via data provided by the FBI.

When cities with more than 100,000 people or more did not have data available in the FBI dataset, MoneyGeek conducted individualized research on standardized crime statistics for each specific city. Please note that 2021 data was limited for cities in California, the District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York and Pennsylvania. We omitted any cities that did not report murder and rape.

This analysis includes 263 cities.

MoneyGeek relied on research by professors Kathryn McCollister and Michael French of the University of Miami and Hai Fang of the University of Colorado, Denver to determine the cost of crime to society. Findings were integrated into the broader dataset to better understand the societal cost of crime within individual cities. Lastly, data was used via Wikipedia on the number and nature of mass shootings in the United States in 2021.


This story was produced by MoneyGeek and reviewed and distributed by Stacker Media.

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