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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 axlso 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:

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 City Crime Score
1 Boxford  86
2 Norfolk  103
3 Wayland  113
4 Hopkinton  122
5 Sudbury  145
6 Wenham  167
7 Franklin  172
8 Weston  183
9 Sharon  190
10 Manchester by the Sea  190
11 Southborough  213
12 Medway  219
13 Clinton  223
14 Dover  225
15 Groton  230
16 Rockport  231
17 Holliston  238
18 Norton  247
19 Stow  247
20 Medfield  254
21 Shirley  257
22 Bedford  264
23 Shrewsbury  271
24 Westford  283
25 Southampton  288
26 Boxborough  308
27 Dighton  313
28 Needham  315
29 Winchester  333
30 Georgetown  345
31 Duxbury  348
32 Berkley  349
33 Wellesley  356
34 Lexington  356
35 Holden  356
36 Lincoln  375
37 Newbury  377
38 Mendon  388
39 Harvard  388
40 Hamilton  392
41 Hampden  394
42 Lynnfield  406
43 Belmont  411
44 Lancaster  411
45 Andover  412
46 Ipswich  417
47 Concord  435
48 Littleton  442
49 North Reading  451
50 Longmeadow  457
51 Acton  465
52 Southwick  466
53 Scituate  466
54 Upton  468
55 Norwell  470
56 Ashland  482
57 Rehoboth  485
58 Charlton  498
59 Granby  506
60 Milton  507
61 Blackstone  508
62 Sterling  511
63 Grafton  512
64 Hopedale  524
65 Dalton  530
66 North Andover  530
67 Westwood  535
68 Tyngsboro  537
69 Newton  551
70 Wilbraham  555
71 Douglas  558
72 Westborough  562
73 Billerica  571
74 Stoneham  585
75 Pembroke  585
76 Ashburnham  588
77 Hanover  591
78 Marshfield  595
79 Hanson  596
80 Melrose  619
81 Townsend  620
82 Easton  630
83 Halifax  640
84 Newburyport  640
85 Hingham  642
86 Norwood  646
87 Pepperell  646
88 Maynard  649
89 Northborough  655
90 Amherst  660
91 Arlington  663
92 Sutton  664
93 Marblehead  670
94 Wilmington  676
95 Bolton  680
96 Belchertown  681
97 Lee  682
98 East Bridgewater  690
99 Walpole  702
100 Acushnet  707
101 Sandwich  711
102 Lakeville  718
103 Uxbridge  723
104 Brewster  731
105 West Boylston  739
106 Wakefield  752
107 Mansfield  762
108 Watertown  764
109 Westminster  769
110 Spencer  772
111 Williamstown  795
112 West Bridgewater  806
113 Westport  811
114 Dracut  817
115 Dudley  840
116 Plainville  844
117 Monson  868
118 South Hadley  874
119 Kingston  876
120 Wrentham  877
121 Carver  878
122 Beverly  882
123 Mattapoisett  885
124 Chelmsford  888
125 Easthampton  893
126 Canton  896
127 Natick  900
128 Woburn  931
129 Waltham  947
130 Swampscott  949
131 Chatham  961
132 Ludlow  968
133 Winthrop  973
134 Deerfield  978
135 Westfield  979
136 Great Barrington  981
137 Bellingham  986
138 Middleboro  992
139 Somerset  1,008
140 Freetown  1,014
141 Barre  1,018
142 Hull  1,018
143 Methuen  1,021
144 Dedham  1,025
145 Weymouth  1,029
146 Medford  1,055
147 Orleans  1,058
148 Milford  1,067
149 Harwich  1,083
150 Whitman  1,091
151 Burlington  1,092
152 Tewksbury  1,122
153 Oxford  1,123
154 Palmer  1,129
155 Adams  1,134
156 Brookline  1,148
157 Sturbridge  1,151
158 Abington  1,169
159 Northbridge  1,179
160 Raynham  1,192
161 Ayer  1,199
162 Bourne  1,210
163 Swansea  1,210
164 Leicester  1,219
165 Millbury  1,220
166 Mashpee  1,222
167 Orange  1,236
168 Taunton  1,239
169 Ware  1,274
170 Somerville  1,275
171 Seekonk  1,295
172 Peabody  1,299
173 Athol  1,308
174 Danvers  1,320
175 Attleboro  1,342
176 Lunenburg  1,344
177 Stoughton  1,349
178 Marlborough  1,420
179 Braintree  1,422
180 Winchendon  1,459
181 Salisbury  1,466
182 Southbridge  1,557
183 Malden  1,558
184 Saugus  1,568
185 Dartmouth  1,574
186 Quincy  1,622
187 Everett  1,666
188 Webster  1,681
189 Auburn  1,682
190 Falmouth  1,718
191 Cambridge  1,773
192 Fairhaven  1,776
193 Dennis  1,842
194 Northampton  1,911
195 Salem  1,917
196 Hadley  1,933
197 Montague  1,969
198 Chicopee  1,980
199 Revere  2,000
200 Wareham  2,196
201 Pittsfield  2,239
202 Barnstable  2,287
203 Lowell  2,381
204 Haverhill  2,412
205 North Adams  2,437
206 Leominster  2,523
207 Yarmouth  2,532
208 Gardner  2,547
209 West Springfield  2,768
210 Lynn  2,773
211 Fitchburg  2,823
212 Boston  3,223
213 Chelsea  3,298
214 Lawrence  3,419
215 Fall River  3,524
216 Brockton  3,619
217 Worcester  3,634
218 Springfield  4,234
219 New Bedford  4,260
220 Holyoke  4,353

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.

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 City Population Violent
Crime per 100K
Property
Crime per 100K
Crime Score
158 Abington 16,200  173  2,086  1,169
51 Acton 23,193  73  772  465
100 Acushnet 10,392  221  876  707
155 Adams 8,296  362  1,446  1,134
90 Amherst 38,977  177  729  660
45 Andover 34,882  46  722  412
91 Arlington 44,439  142  860  663
76 Ashburnham 6,190  162  905  588
56 Ashland  17,333  87  790  482
173 Athol 11,655  395  1,639  1,308
175 Attleboro 44,084  243  1,919  1,342
189 Auburn 16,392  250  2,989  1,682
161 Ayer 7,938  353  1,663  1,199
202 Barnstable 44,642  625  2,419  2,287
141 Barre 5,473  402  1,115  1,018
22 Bedford 14,179  42  465  264
96 Belchertown 14,758  142  1,064  681
137 Bellingham 16,801  179  1,619  986
43 Belmont 25,550  63  681  411
32 Berkley 6,559  76  610  349
122 Beverly 41,023  190  1,151  882
73 Billerica 42,393  80  913  571
61 Blackstone  9,118  55  1,064  508
95 Bolton 5,128  176  1,131  680
212 Boston 654,413  726  2,639  3,223
162 Bourne 19,781  313  1,562  1,210
26 Boxborough 5,185  77  521  308
1 Boxford 8,233  -    219  86
179 Braintree 37,067  237  2,164  1,422
104 Brewster 9,765  164  1,178  731
216 Brockton 94,427  1,051  3,071  3,619
156 Brookline 59,413  279  1,288  1,148
151 Burlington 25,765  144  1,902  1,092
191 Cambridge 108,201  278  2,409  1,773
126 Canton 22,441  263  1,007  896
121 Carver 11,521  243  1,189  878
58 Charlton  13,258  113  754  498
131 Chatham 6,150  146  1,951  961
124 Chelmsford 35,037  86  1,613  888
213 Chelsea 38,396  1,112  2,745  3,298
198 Chicopee 55,831  382  2,645  1,980
13 Clinton 13,755  44  364  223
47 Concord 19,753  51  810  435
65 Dalton  6,717  164  729  530
174 Danvers 27,809  129  2,452  1,320
185 Dartmouth 34,703  205  2,648  1,574
144 Dedham 25,495  67  2,059  1,025
134 Deerfield 5,080  374  1,142  978
193 Dennis 14,074  469  2,565  1,842
27 Dighton 7,267  124  316  313
71 Douglas  8,687  196  633  558
14 Dover 5,864  34  460  225
114 Dracut 31,067  64  1,561  817
115 Dudley 11,562  355  649  840
31 Duxbury 15,385  65  572  348
98 East Bridgewater 14,203  141  1,098  690
125 Easthampton 15,954  270  1,047  893
82 Easton 23,928  104  1,020  630
187 Everett 43,368  397  2,006  1,666
192 Fairhaven 16,157  402  2,612  1,776
215 Fall River 88,915  1,165  2,460  3,524
190 Falmouth 31,760  356  2,393  1,718
211 Fitchburg 40,492  815  2,867  2,823
7 Franklin 32,857  15  320  172
140 Freetown 9,100  275  1,462  1,014
208 Gardner 20,462  738  2,957  2,547
30 Georgetown 8,559  12  830  345
63 Grafton  18,301  186  459  512
59 Granby  6,303  159  698  506
136 Great Barrington 6,971  359  1,119  981
15 Groton 11,260  9  533  230
196 Hadley 5,277  474  3,297  1,933
83 Halifax 7,648  157  1,020  640
40 Hamilton 8,191  73  708  392
41 Hampden 5,188  19  983  394
77 Hanover 14,418  28  1,311  591
79 Hanson 10,379  193  713  596
39 Harvard 6,597  91  652  388
149 Harwich 12,224  245  1,669  1,083
204 Haverhill 62,552  697  2,241  2,412
85 Hingham 22,940  74  1,177  642
35 Holden 18,208  71  549  356
17 Holliston 14,352  35  432  238
220 Holyoke 40,336  967  5,583  4,353
64 Hopedale  5,982  201  585  524
4 Hopkinton 16,209  6  265  122
142 Hull 10,370  309  1,302  1,018
46 Ipswich 13,707  44  832  417
119 Kingston 12,902  202  1,325  876
102 Lakeville 11,287  124  1,276  718
44 Lancaster 8,075  50  854  411
214 Lawrence 78,169  1,094  2,612  3,419
97 Lee 5,914  135  1,268  682
164 Leicester 11,342  238  2,054  1,219
206 Leominster 41,179  656  2,844  2,523
34 Lexington 33,047  30  666  356
36 Lincoln 6,632  90  618  375
48 Littleton 9,350  96  727  442
50 Longmeadow 15,901  57  862  457
203 Lowell 109,729  545  2,544  2,381
132 Ludlow 21,528  214  1,380  968
176 Lunenburg 11,238  178  2,607  1,344
210 Lynn 92,131  777  2,478  2,773
42 Lynnfield 12,635  63  736  406
183 Malden 60,925  359  1,819  1,558
10 Manchester-by-the-Sea 5,290  57  284  190
107 Mansfield 23,727  177  1,033  762
93 Marblehead 20,332  113  1,102  670
178 Marlborough 39,748  337  1,738  1,420
78 Marshfield 25,657  164  694  595
166 Mashpee 14,123  319  1,671  1,222
123 Mattapoisett 6,219  145  1,753  885
88 Maynard 10,463  191  851  649
20 Medfield 12,415  32  491  254
146 Medford 57,551  184  1,479  1,055
12 Medway 13,159  23  441  219
80 Melrose 27,940  111  948  619
38 Mendon 5,936  101  623  388
143 Methuen 48,950  163  1,524  1,021
138 Middleboro 23,784  252  1,257  992
148 Milford 28,434  193  1,621  1,067
165 Millbury 13,473  200  2,152  1,220
60 Milton  27,405  40  982  507
117 Monson 8,762  354  787  868
197 Montague 8,365  658  2,391  1,969
127 Natick 35,879  148  1,385  900
28 Needham 29,990  13  650  315
219 New Bedford 95,366  1,257  3,526  4,260
37 Newbury 6,917  116  520  377
84 Newburyport 17,941  150  903  640
69 Newton  88,881  68  844  551
2 Norfolk 11,835  17  186  103
205 North Adams 13,471  557  3,675  2,437
66 North Andover  29,502  27  1,078  530
49 North Reading 15,537  109  637  451
194 Northampton 28,465  464  2,435  1,911
89 Northborough 14,900  134  1,034  655
159 Northbridge 16,245  197  2,013  1,179
18 Norton 19,477  21  493  247
55 Norwell  10,806  93  796  470
86 Norwood 29,114  79  1,130  646
167 Orange 7,737  284  2,042  1,236
147 Orleans 5,878  204  1,990  1,058
153 Oxford 13,869  281  1,586  1,123
154 Palmer 12,161  370  1,283  1,129
172 Peabody 52,366  267  1,684  1,299
75 Pembroke 18,207  165  714  585
87 Pepperell 11,999  150  983  646
201 Pittsfield 43,895  442  3,055  2,239
116 Plainville 8,991  100  1,735  844
186 Quincy 94,035  417  1,594  1,622
160 Raynham 13,635  191  2,120  1,192
57 Rehoboth  11,924  75  889  485
199 Revere 54,402  557  1,996  2,000
16 Rockport 7,193  97  209  231
195 Salem 42,847  359  2,700  1,917
181 Salisbury 8,676  438  1,971  1,466
101 Sandwich 20,628  179  931  711
184 Saugus 28,078  253  2,514  1,568
53 Scituate  18,385  131  571  466
171 Seekonk 14,568  137  2,560  1,295
9 Sharon 18,177  -    446  190
21 Shirley 7,716  52  454  257
23 Shrewsbury 36,578  5  571  271
139 Somerset 18,363  201  1,557  1,008
170 Somerville 79,798  267  1,534  1,275
118 South Hadley 17,747  180  1,335  874
25 Southampton 6,030  66  498  288
11 Southborough 9,956  20  452  213
182 Southbridge 16,858  368  2,213  1,557
52 Southwick  9,666  62  921  466
110 Spencer 11,819  135  1,354  772
218 Springfield 153,766  1,081  3,839  4,234
62 Sterling  7,937  63  1,058  511
74 Stoneham 21,905  96  963  585
177 Stoughton 28,451  334  1,694  1,349
19 Stow 7,010  29  528  247
157 Sturbridge 9,467  296  1,711  1,151
5 Sudbury 18,592  5  317  145
92 Sutton 9,200  98  1,283  664
130 Swampscott 14,028  128  1,775  949
163 Swansea 16,177  204  2,058  1,210
168 Taunton 56,277  370  1,130  1,239
152 Tewksbury 30,461  282  1,372  1,122
81 Townsend 9,279  151  959  620
68 Tyngsboro  12,263  122  824  537
54 Upton  7,719  143  635  468
103 Uxbridge 13,732  138  1,194  723
106 Wakefield 26,394  163  1,049  752
99 Walpole 25,063  68  1,325  702
129 Waltham 62,756  196  1,190  947
169 Ware 9,838  356  1,769  1,274
200 Wareham 22,585  505  3,024  2,196
108 Watertown 33,353  93  1,316  764
3 Wayland 13,592  44  96  113
188 Webster 16,869  480  2,057  1,681
33 Wellesley 29,412  48  605  356
6 Wenham 5,114  78  137  167
105 West Boylston 7,971  50  1,694  739
112 West Bridgewater 7,018  128  1,582  806
209 West Springfield 28,767  431  4,484  2,768
72 Westborough  18,773  69  1,039  562
135 Westfield 41,348  208  1,289  979
24 Westford 23,654  51  444  283
109 Westminster 7,455  134  1,449  769
8 Weston 12,015  25  350  183
113 Westport 15,785  133  1,400  811
67 Westwood  14,978  113  828  535
145 Weymouth 55,996  239  1,209  1,029
150 Whitman 14,786  358  1,184  1,091
70 Wilbraham  14,541  76  1,032  555
111 Williamstown 7,561  40  1,891  795
94 Wilmington 23,410  120  1,068  676
180 Winchendon 10,628  348  2,230  1,459
29 Winchester 22,313  22  677  333
133 Winthrop 18,314  322  994  973
128 Woburn 39,401  180  1,305  931
217 Worcester 183,248  962  3,058  3,634
120 Wrentham 11,375  88  1,811  877
207 Yarmouth 23,683  836  2,445  2,532

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