2016 Safest Places in Massachusetts

by Susan Gulliford

The nearly 6.8 million people who call Massachusetts home care about safety. That is why the team at ValuePenguin analyzed the latest FBI Crime Report to determine the safest cities in The Bay State. These 220 communities had crime scores that ranged from 86 to 4,353. The average crime score was 1,014.

Communities with populations under 20,000 in the Greater Boston area dominated the top five. These towns were also very affluent with high median household incomes and very low level of poverty. You can read the full report to get the most detailed information.

5 Safest Places in Massachusetts

These cities have an average final crime score of 114, which is 89% lower than their typical peer in the state. The team at ValuePenguin determined that these five are the safest cities in the Massachusetts.

1. Boxford

Boxford is the smallest community in the top five. The police department offers numerous services to the residents, including security surveys of their homes. This approach pays off because Boxford tied for the lowest rate of violent crime and had the fifth-lowest rate of property crime. It is an affluent community approximately 30 miles north of Boston with a median household income that was 88% higher than the median for Massachusetts, and almost 98% of residents own the home they occupy.

2. Norfolk

Norfolk is small community (population of 11,835) that is approximately 13 minutes from Foxborough, MA, the home of the New England Patriots. Norfolk had the third-lowest level of property crime in this research. It also had only two violent crimes in 2014. The median household income was 112% above the state’s median, and 94% of the housing was owner-occupied.

3. Wayland

This mid-size town is 19 miles west of Boston in Middlesex County. The police department employs a community-oriented policing philosophy, and the results are very positive. Wayland had the lowest rate of property crime of any community in this study. It is very affluent with a median household income and per capita income that was double the averages for Massachusetts, and 79% of the adult population has at least a bachelor’s degree.

4. Hopkinton

The Hopkinton police department offers numerous programs for its residents including “Person at Risk” that helps people with conditions such as Alzheimer’s and autism and house checks for when homeowners are out of town. Hopkinton had one violent crime in 2014 and the sixth-lowest rate of property crime. Safety is not the only area in which Hopkinton made the top five for this year. Hopkinton High ranked fifth on the U.S. News and World Report's rating of Massachusetts high schools in 2016. The median household income for Hopkinton was 89% higher than the median household income for Massachusetts.

5. Sudbury

With a population of over 18,000, Sudbury is the largest community in the top five. Sudbury had the third-lowest rate of violent crime in addition to a low rate of property crime. This police department uses social media such as Facebook and Twitter to keep open lines of communication with the public. The median household income for this mid-size community in Middlesex County was 148% higher than the state’s median household income, and the population is very well-educated, 78% of adults 25 or older having at least a Bachelor’s degree.

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 5,000 and 10,000, midsize cities with populations between 10,000 and 20,000, and larger cities with populations greater than 20,000. Here are our findings:

Safest Places in Massachusetts

Full List of Places in Massachusetts

Below is the entire list of places that we included in our “Safest Places in Massachusetts” 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

CityCrime Score

1

Boxford86

2

Norfolk103

3

Wayland113

4

Hopkinton122

5

Sudbury145

6

Wenham167

7

Franklin172

8

Weston183

9

Sharon190

10

Manchester by the Sea190

11

Southborough213

12

Medway219

13

Clinton223

14

Dover225

15

Groton230

16

Rockport231

17

Holliston238

18

Norton247

19

Stow247

20

Medfield254

21

Shirley257

22

Bedford264

23

Shrewsbury271

24

Westford283

25

Southampton288

26

Boxborough308

27

Dighton313

28

Needham315

29

Winchester333

30

Georgetown345

31

Duxbury348

32

Berkley349

33

Wellesley356

34

Lexington356

35

Holden356

36

Lincoln375

37

Newbury377

38

Mendon388

39

Harvard388

40

Hamilton392

41

Hampden394

42

Lynnfield406

43

Belmont411

44

Lancaster411

45

Andover412

46

Ipswich417

47

Concord435

48

Littleton442

49

North Reading451

50

Longmeadow457

51

Acton465

52

Southwick466

53

Scituate466

54

Upton468

55

Norwell470

56

Ashland482

57

Rehoboth485

58

Charlton498

59

Granby506

60

Milton507

61

Blackstone508

62

Sterling511

63

Grafton512

64

Hopedale524

65

Dalton530

66

North Andover530

67

Westwood535

68

Tyngsboro537

69

Newton551

70

Wilbraham555

71

Douglas558

72

Westborough562

73

Billerica571

74

Stoneham585

75

Pembroke585

76

Ashburnham588

77

Hanover591

78

Marshfield595

79

Hanson596

80

Melrose619

81

Townsend620

82

Easton630

83

Halifax640

84

Newburyport640

85

Hingham642

86

Norwood646

87

Pepperell646

88

Maynard649

89

Northborough655

90

Amherst660

91

Arlington663

92

Sutton664

93

Marblehead670

94

Wilmington676

95

Bolton680

96

Belchertown681

97

Lee682

98

East Bridgewater690

99

Walpole702

100

Acushnet707

101

Sandwich711

102

Lakeville718

103

Uxbridge723

104

Brewster731

105

West Boylston739

106

Wakefield752

107

Mansfield762

108

Watertown764

109

Westminster769

110

Spencer772

111

Williamstown795

112

West Bridgewater806

113

Westport811

114

Dracut817

115

Dudley840

116

Plainville844

117

Monson868

118

South Hadley874

119

Kingston876

120

Wrentham877

121

Carver878

122

Beverly882

123

Mattapoisett885

124

Chelmsford888

125

Easthampton893

126

Canton896

127

Natick900

128

Woburn931

129

Waltham947

130

Swampscott949

131

Chatham961

132

Ludlow968

133

Winthrop973

134

Deerfield978

135

Westfield979

136

Great Barrington981

137

Bellingham986

138

Middleboro992

139

Somerset1,008

140

Freetown1,014

141

Barre1,018

142

Hull1,018

143

Methuen1,021

144

Dedham1,025

145

Weymouth1,029

146

Medford1,055

147

Orleans1,058

148

Milford1,067

149

Harwich1,083

150

Whitman1,091

151

Burlington1,092

152

Tewksbury1,122

153

Oxford1,123

154

Palmer1,129

155

Adams1,134

156

Brookline1,148

157

Sturbridge1,151

158

Abington1,169

159

Northbridge1,179

160

Raynham1,192

161

Ayer1,199

162

Bourne1,210

163

Swansea1,210

164

Leicester1,219

165

Millbury1,220

166

Mashpee1,222

167

Orange1,236

168

Taunton1,239

169

Ware1,274

170

Somerville1,275

171

Seekonk1,295

172

Peabody1,299

173

Athol1,308

174

Danvers1,320

175

Attleboro1,342

176

Lunenburg1,344

177

Stoughton1,349

178

Marlborough1,420

179

Braintree1,422

180

Winchendon1,459

181

Salisbury1,466

182

Southbridge1,557

183

Malden1,558

184

Saugus1,568

185

Dartmouth1,574

186

Quincy1,622

187

Everett1,666

188

Webster1,681

189

Auburn1,682

190

Falmouth1,718

191

Cambridge1,773

192

Fairhaven1,776

193

Dennis1,842

194

Northampton1,911

195

Salem1,917

196

Hadley1,933

197

Montague1,969

198

Chicopee1,980

199

Revere2,000

200

Wareham2,196

201

Pittsfield2,239

202

Barnstable2,287

203

Lowell2,381

204

Haverhill2,412

205

North Adams2,437

206

Leominster2,523

207

Yarmouth2,532

208

Gardner2,547

209

West Springfield2,768

210

Lynn2,773

211

Fitchburg2,823

212

Boston3,223

213

Chelsea3,298

214

Lawrence3,419

215

Fall River3,524

216

Brockton3,619

217

Worcester3,634

218

Springfield4,234

219

New Bedford4,260

220

Holyoke4,353

Year-over-year Changes

Only two communities (Norfolk and Sudbury) made the top five for both from 2015 and 2016. However, this year’s new entrants into the top five (Boxford, Wayland and Hopkinton) were all in the top ten for their respective size categories last year.

There was also consistency at the other end of the safety rankings. In both 2015 and 2016, cities from the large category had the highest crime scores. Interestingly, Boston was not in the bottom five either year.

Several cities from the large category demonstrated strong safety records. Franklin, Shrewsbury and Westford ranked first, second and third, respectively, in both 2015 and 2016 for cities with populations higher than 20,000. Overall, eight large cities made the top ten in 2015 and 2016.

Safest Places in Mass.

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 5,000 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.

Cohasset was not left out of our study over questions about its data. Specifically, the FBI noted that they “...determined that the agency’s data were overreported.”

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

CityPopulationViolent Crime per 100KProperty Crime per 100KCrime Score

158

Abington16,2001732,0861,169

51

Acton23,19373772465

100

Acushnet10,392221876707

155

Adams8,2963621,4461,134

90

Amherst38,977177729660

45

Andover34,88246722412

91

Arlington44,439142860663

76

Ashburnham6,190162905588

56

Ashland17,33387790482

173

Athol11,6553951,6391,308

175

Attleboro44,0842431,9191,342

189

Auburn16,3922502,9891,682

161

Ayer7,9383531,6631,199

202

Barnstable44,6426252,4192,287

141

Barre5,4734021,1151,018

22

Bedford14,17942465264

96

Belchertown14,7581421,064681

137

Bellingham16,8011791,619986

43

Belmont25,55063681411

32

Berkley6,55976610349

122

Beverly41,0231901,151882

73

Billerica42,39380913571

61

Blackstone9,118551,064508

95

Bolton5,1281761,131680

212

Boston654,4137262,6393,223

162

Bourne19,7813131,5621,210

26

Boxborough5,18577521308

1

Boxford8,233-21986

179

Braintree37,0672372,1641,422

104

Brewster9,7651641,178731

216

Brockton94,4271,0513,0713,619

156

Brookline59,4132791,2881,148

151

Burlington25,7651441,9021,092

191

Cambridge108,2012782,4091,773

126

Canton22,4412631,007896

121

Carver11,5212431,189878

58

Charlton13,258113754498

131

Chatham6,1501461,951961

124

Chelmsford35,037861,613888

213

Chelsea38,3961,1122,7453,298

198

Chicopee55,8313822,6451,980

13

Clinton13,75544364223

47

Concord19,75351810435

65

Dalton6,717164729530

174

Danvers27,8091292,4521,320

185

Dartmouth34,7032052,6481,574

144

Dedham25,495672,0591,025

134

Deerfield5,0803741,142978

193

Dennis14,0744692,5651,842

27

Dighton7,267124316313

71

Douglas8,687196633558

14

Dover5,86434460225

114

Dracut31,067641,561817

115

Dudley11,562355649840

31

Duxbury15,38565572348

98

East Bridgewater14,2031411,098690

125

Easthampton15,9542701,047893

82

Easton23,9281041,020630

187

Everett43,3683972,0061,666

192

Fairhaven16,1574022,6121,776

215

Fall River88,9151,1652,4603,524

190

Falmouth31,7603562,3931,718

211

Fitchburg40,4928152,8672,823

7

Franklin32,85715320172

140

Freetown9,1002751,4621,014

208

Gardner20,4627382,9572,547

30

Georgetown8,55912830345

63

Grafton18,301186459512

59

Granby6,303159698506

136

Great Barrington6,9713591,119981

15

Groton11,2609533230

196

Hadley5,2774743,2971,933

83

Halifax7,6481571,020640

40

Hamilton8,19173708392

41

Hampden5,18819983394

77

Hanover14,418281,311591

79

Hanson10,379193713596

39

Harvard6,59791652388

149

Harwich12,2242451,6691,083

204

Haverhill62,5526972,2412,412

85

Hingham22,940741,177642

35

Holden18,20871549356

17

Holliston14,35235432238

220

Holyoke40,3369675,5834,353

64

Hopedale5,982201585524

4

Hopkinton16,2096265122

142

Hull10,3703091,3021,018

46

Ipswich13,70744832417

119

Kingston12,9022021,325876

102

Lakeville11,2871241,276718

44

Lancaster8,07550854411

214

Lawrence78,1691,0942,6123,419

97

Lee5,9141351,268682

164

Leicester11,3422382,0541,219

206

Leominster41,1796562,8442,523

34

Lexington33,04730666356

36

Lincoln6,63290618375

48

Littleton9,35096727442

50

Longmeadow15,90157862457

203

Lowell109,7295452,5442,381

132

Ludlow21,5282141,380968

176

Lunenburg11,2381782,6071,344

210

Lynn92,1317772,4782,773

42

Lynnfield12,63563736406

183

Malden60,9253591,8191,558

10

Manchester-by-the-Sea5,29057284190

107

Mansfield23,7271771,033762

93

Marblehead20,3321131,102670

178

Marlborough39,7483371,7381,420

78

Marshfield25,657164694595

166

Mashpee14,1233191,6711,222

123

Mattapoisett6,2191451,753885

88

Maynard10,463191851649

20

Medfield12,41532491254

146

Medford57,5511841,4791,055

12

Medway13,15923441219

80

Melrose27,940111948619

38

Mendon5,936101623388

143

Methuen48,9501631,5241,021

138

Middleboro23,7842521,257992

148

Milford28,4341931,6211,067

165

Millbury13,4732002,1521,220

60

Milton27,40540982507

117

Monson8,762354787868

197

Montague8,3656582,3911,969

127

Natick35,8791481,385900

28

Needham29,99013650315

219

New Bedford95,3661,2573,5264,260

37

Newbury6,917116520377

84

Newburyport17,941150903640

69

Newton88,88168844551

2

Norfolk11,83517186103

205

North Adams13,4715573,6752,437

66

North Andover29,502271,078530

49

North Reading15,537109637451

194

Northampton28,4654642,4351,911

89

Northborough14,9001341,034655

159

Northbridge16,2451972,0131,179

18

Norton19,47721493247

55

Norwell10,80693796470

86

Norwood29,114791,130646

167

Orange7,7372842,0421,236

147

Orleans5,8782041,9901,058

153

Oxford13,8692811,5861,123

154

Palmer12,1613701,2831,129

172

Peabody52,3662671,6841,299

75

Pembroke18,207165714585

87

Pepperell11,999150983646

201

Pittsfield43,8954423,0552,239

116

Plainville8,9911001,735844

186

Quincy94,0354171,5941,622

160

Raynham13,6351912,1201,192

57

Rehoboth11,92475889485

199

Revere54,4025571,9962,000

16

Rockport7,19397209231

195

Salem42,8473592,7001,917

181

Salisbury8,6764381,9711,466

101

Sandwich20,628179931711

184

Saugus28,0782532,5141,568

53

Scituate18,385131571466

171

Seekonk14,5681372,5601,295

9

Sharon18,177-446190

21

Shirley7,71652454257

23

Shrewsbury36,5785571271

139

Somerset18,3632011,5571,008

170

Somerville79,7982671,5341,275

118

South Hadley17,7471801,335874

25

Southampton6,03066498288

11

Southborough9,95620452213

182

Southbridge16,8583682,2131,557

52

Southwick9,66662921466

110

Spencer11,8191351,354772

218

Springfield153,7661,0813,8394,234

62

Sterling7,937631,058511

74

Stoneham21,90596963585

177

Stoughton28,4513341,6941,349

19

Stow7,01029528247

157

Sturbridge9,4672961,7111,151

5

Sudbury18,5925317145

92

Sutton9,200981,283664

130

Swampscott14,0281281,775949

163

Swansea16,1772042,0581,210

168

Taunton56,2773701,1301,239

152

Tewksbury30,4612821,3721,122

81

Townsend9,279151959620

68

Tyngsboro12,263122824537

54

Upton7,719143635468

103

Uxbridge13,7321381,194723

106

Wakefield26,3941631,049752

99

Walpole25,063681,325702

129

Waltham62,7561961,190947

169

Ware9,8383561,7691,274

200

Wareham22,5855053,0242,196

108

Watertown33,353931,316764

3

Wayland13,5924496113

188

Webster16,8694802,0571,681

33

Wellesley29,41248605356

6

Wenham5,11478137167

105

West Boylston7,971501,694739

112

West Bridgewater7,0181281,582806

209

West Springfield28,7674314,4842,768

72

Westborough18,773691,039562

135

Westfield41,3482081,289979

24

Westford23,65451444283

109

Westminster7,4551341,449769

8

Weston12,01525350183

113

Westport15,7851331,400811

67

Westwood14,978113828535

145

Weymouth55,9962391,2091,029

150

Whitman14,7863581,1841,091

70

Wilbraham14,541761,032555

111

Williamstown7,561401,891795

94

Wilmington23,4101201,068676

180

Winchendon10,6283482,2301,459

29

Winchester22,31322677333

133

Winthrop18,314322994973

128

Woburn39,4011801,305931

217

Worcester183,2489623,0583,634

120

Wrentham11,375881,811877

207

Yarmouth23,6838362,4452,532

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