2016 Safest Places in Arizona

by Susan Gulliford

Arizona’s population has grown nearly 7% since the 2010 census. With so many people moving to the Grand Canyon State, the ValuePenguin team analyzed the latest FBI Crime Report to determine the safest cities in the state. These 41 cities had crime scores that ranged from 488 to an outlier of 10,406. The average crime score for the entire state was 2,122.

The major takeaway from this research was Arizona is different than other states studied by ValuePenguin. In states such as Illinois, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, affluent suburbs of major cities dominated the top five. Despite the fact that Phoenix has a large population of 1.5 million, none of the top five were suburbs of that major city. Picturesque cities and towns in different parts of the state dominated in this report.   

5 Safest Places in Arizona

These cities have an average final crime score of 671, which was 68% lower than their typical peer in the state. The team at ValuePenguin determined that these five are the safest cities in Arizona.

1. Florence

This mid-size city comes in at number one. In addition to a low rate of violent crime, it had the lowest rate of property crime in this study. Florence was the only Arizona city with a crime score below 500. It is located in the Sonoran Desert; both Phoenix and Tucson are more than a one hour's drive away. Florence is a middle-class town with a median household income $1,425 below the Arizona’s median household income. 

2. Clarkdale

The safest small city earned the number two spot in the safest places list. It is approximately 31 minutes to Sedona, AZ. There were six violent crimes reported in 2014. Clarkdale’s population skews older with more people in the 45-64 and 65+ age categories than Arizona as a whole.   

3. Sahuarita

The 44 sworn officers are committed to community policing, and the results of their efforts are very positive for the residents. Sahuarita had the second-lowest rate of violent crime and the fifth-lowest rate of property crime in ValuePenguin’s analysis. This mid-size city is a 30-minute drive south of Tucson. The median household income was 31% above the state’s median household income, and the town has a low level of poverty. 

4. Eagar

This small community, located in northeastern Arizona at the base of the White Mountains, boasts of its appeal to tourists. The town keeps residents and visitors safe. It had the fifth-lowest rate of violent crime in addition to a low rate of property crime. People in Eagar call in to the “WeTips” line to report crime anonymously. Eagar is a middle-income community with a low rate of poverty and unemployment. 

5. Thatcher

The Thatcher Police Department states that its main goal is “...to contribute to the quality of life in Thatcher.” This small city had the lowest-rate of violent crime of any community. Thatcher is in a rural area approximately 165 miles southeast of Phoenix. It is in a picturesque area (the Upper Gila Valley), hence it attracts many tourists each year.

Population Breakdown

Although we adjusted for population in our crime rankings, it is still difficult to compare a small town to a large city. To account for this fact, we separated the safest cities into three categories: towns with populations between 3,000 and 10,000, midsize cities with populations between 10,000 and 50,000, and larger cities with populations greater than 50,000. Here are our findings:

Arizona

Full List of Places in Arizona

Below is the entire list of places that we included in our “Safest Places in Arizona” study. They are listed from the safest to the least safe, according to our analysis. The calculation for the crime scores can be found in the methodology section below. Take a look at the graph and see where your hometown ranks.

Rank City Crime Score
1 Florence  488
2 Clarkdale  578
3 Sahuarita  699
4 Eagar  781
5 Thatcher  807
6 Somerton  869
7 San Luis  923
8 Gilbert  983
9 Buckeye  1,030
10 Surprise  1,079
11 Wickenburg  1,189
12 Lake Havasu City  1,305
13 Peoria  1,354
14 Snowflake-Taylor  1,367
15 Prescott Valley  1,471
16 Camp Verde  1,525
17 Quartzsite  1,528
18 Nogales  1,546
19 St. Johns  1,576
20 Chandler  1,607
21 Payson  1,636
22 El Mirage  1,682
23 Apache Junction  1,944
24 Prescott  2,018
25 Eloy  2,085
26 Pinetop-Lakeside  2,114
27 Chino Valley  2,201
28 Bullhead City  2,251
29 Coolidge  2,398
30 Casa Grande  2,579
31 Mesa  2,625
32 Kingman  2,753
33 Flagstaff  2,871
34 Globe  2,895
35 Yuma  2,919
36 Holbrook  2,961
37 Tempe  3,462
38 Phoenix  3,718
39 Page  3,945
40 Tolleson  4,837
41 South Tucson  10,406

Year-over-year Change

When people choose a city in which to live, they want a place that is consistently safe. Three communities (Florence, Clarkdale, and Sahuarita) made the top five in both 2015 and 2016. In fact, Florence and Clarkdale were number one and two respectively in both years.

Small and mid-size communities dominated the top five safest places in both years. However, small did not necessarily equal safe. The three communities with the highest crime scores all had populations of under 10,000. In fact, South Tucson not only came in last both years, it was an outlier in both 2015 and 2016.

Fewer communities reported data to the FBI in 2014 (for this year’s list) than reported in 2013. Also, a number of cities that reported crime totals last year did not report this year. Without cities such as Tucson and Scottsdale, the ValuePenguin team had a harder time making year-to-year comparisons.

Arizona

Methodology

To rank these places, we collected data from the 2014 FBI crime statistics by city, which provides the most recent crime data available. Not every town participates in this report and we also excluded towns with fewer than 3,000 residents because towns with small populations are more sensitive to crime score fluctuations for fewer crimes committed. The raw data report included property crimes (burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson), and violent crimes (murder/manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault) from all law enforcement agencies that chose to partake in the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting program.

We standardized the data to reflect violent and property crimes per 100,000, to account for population. Then, we aggregated a “crime score” by weighting violent crime at 80% and property crime at 20%. Though property crime is more prevalent, we figured that violent crime is more concerning to town residents. Then we adjusted the crime score for population size, giving more slack to larger cities. Finally, we ranked the cities based on their crime scores.

Here is an alphabetical table of all cities included with their ranks, making it easier to compare different cities. See where your city lies!

Rank City Population Violent
Crime per 100K
Property
Crime per 100K
Crime Score
23 Apache Junction 37,274  244  3,276  1,944
9 Buckeye 58,126  50  1,963  1,030
28 Bullhead City 39,337  206  4,075  2,251
16 Camp Verde 11,055  326  2,469  1,525
30 Casa Grande 50,207  478  3,575  2,579
20 Chandler 252,369  185  2,236  1,607
27 Chino Valley 10,979  692  2,678  2,201
2 Clarkdale 4,130  145  1,017  578
29 Coolidge 11,841  414  4,231  2,398
4 Eagar 4,917  102  1,708  781
22 El Mirage 33,307  168  3,047  1,682
25 Eloy 17,001  500  2,929  2,085
33 Flagstaff 69,490  396  4,346  2,871
1 Florence 25,068  128  598  488
8 Gilbert 235,430  89  1,475  983
34 Globe 7,361  543  5,312  2,895
36 Holbrook 4,982  783  4,878  2,961
32 Kingman 28,526  256  5,157  2,753
12 Lake Havasu City 52,892  166  2,097  1,305
31 Mesa 462,092  459  2,800  2,625
18 Nogales 20,382  236  2,644  1,546
39 Page 7,328  969  6,332  3,945
21 Payson 15,238  361  2,468  1,636
13 Peoria 164,722  148  2,003  1,354
38 Phoenix 1,529,852  572  3,724  3,718
26 Pinetop-Lakeside 4,296  698  3,026  2,114
24 Prescott 40,992  344  2,998  2,018
15 Prescott Valley 40,035  220  2,318  1,471
17 Quartzsite 3,635  248  3,301  1,528
3 Sahuarita 27,207  33  1,444  699
7 San Luis 32,059  156  1,425  923
14 Snowflake-Taylor 9,683  485  1,487  1,367
6 Somerton 15,145  165  1,420  869
41 South Tucson 5,707  2,436  17,960  10,406
19 St. Johns 3,508  485  2,509  1,576
10 Surprise 125,049  110  1,679  1,079
37 Tempe 169,812  471  4,737  3,462
5 Thatcher 5,049  20  2,099  807
40 Tolleson 6,807  573  10,328  4,837
11 Wickenburg 6,657  240  2,148  1,189
35 Yuma 92,075  565  3,621  2,919

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