2016 Safest Places in Maine

by Susan Gulliford

Picturesque beauty, affluence and safety go together in the state of Maine. That is the major takeaway from the ValuePenguin team’s analysis of the FBI Crime Report for The Pine Tree State. These 55 cities have crime scores that range from 158 to 3,205, and the average crime score for Maine is 1,126.

Four of the top five communities are affluent (defined as having a median household at last 50% higher than the state’s median. Three of the five communities are an easy commuting time (20 minutes or less) from the state’s largest city, Portland. For more information, you can review the full report here.

5 Safest Places in Maine

These cities have an average final crime score of 308, which is 73% lower than their typical peer in the state. With some of its lowest total violent crime rates, these five are the safest places in Maine.

1. Eliot

This small town of over 6,200 in southern Maine earns first place. E.L.I.O.T (Eyes Looking In Our Town) is a community watch program that involves residents, businesses and the police department working together to keep crime low. The results are that Eliot reported only two violent crimes in 2014, and it has the lowest rate of property crime of any community in this research. In fact, its overall crime score is 86% lower than its typical peer in the state. The median household income in Eliot is 63% higher than the median for Maine, and the percentage of people living in poverty is noticeably lower (7.7% for Eliot versus 14.1% for Maine).

2. Cumberland

This small town (population 7,441) is approximately 20 minutes north of Portland. The police department issues a Scam Alert when citizens report swindlers (such as criminals calling people and posing as IRS agents). Cumberland has the second-lowest rate of violent crime and the second-lowest rate of property crime. It is a town with an affluent, well-educated populace; the median household income for Cumberland is 2.1 times the median household income for Maine and more than 64% of the adult population has at least a Bachelor’s degree.

3. Kennebunk

The safest large place comes in at number three in the rankings. The police department has 20 full-time sworn officers and 10 reserve officers year round, and it adds reserve officers in the summer to keep crime low during the tourist season. The result is that Kennebunk is safe for residents and visitors. Kennebunk reported only six violent crimes for the year surveyed, and it had the third-lowest rate of property crime. The median household income is 49% higher than the median for Maine and less than 4% of residents live in poverty.

4. Yarmouth

"Our Latchstring Always Out" is Yarmouth’s motto. It is the safest mid-size community in this research (population 8,517), and Yarmouth is a 17-minute drive from Portland. In addition to a low amount of violent crime, Yarmouth has the fifth-lowest rate of property crime. The police department offers a variety of programs including a Reassurance Program that helps elderly and disabled residents stay safe. Yarmouth has a median household income 52% higher than the state’s median, and its percentage of people in poverty is low (6.3% for Yarmouth versus 14.1% for Maine).

5. Falmouth

The largest community in the top five (population 11,585) is 13 minutes from Portland. The police department offers crime prevention tips and information on how to detect fraud. Falmouth has the third-lowest rate of violent crime and a low rate of property crime too. It is an affluent town; the median household income for Falmouth is two times the median for Maine and 66% of the residents over 25 have at least a bachelor’s degree.

Population Breakdown

Although the ValuePenguin team adjusted for population in the 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 7,500, midsize cities with populations between 7,500 and 10,000, and larger cities with populations greater than 10,000. The largest city in Maine only has approximately 66,000 people. Here are our findings:

Top Cities in Maine

Full List of Places in Maine

Below is the entire list of places that were included in our “Safest Places in Maine” study. They are listed from the safest to the least safe, according to the 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.

RankCityCrime Score
1Eliot 158
2Cumberland 172
3Kennebunk 350
4Yarmouth 397
5Falmouth 463
6Cape Elizabeth 481
7Hampden 492
8Lisbon 520
9South Berwick 529
10Orono 543
11Sabattus 552
12Gorham 599
13Wells 624
14Kittery 631
15Topsham 671
16Oakland 690
17Berwick 697
18Bar Harbor 706
19Winthrop 744
20York 757
21Buxton 758
22Caribou 760
23Old Town 773
24Lincoln 833
25Winslow 864
26Freeport 881
27Scarborough 948
28Brunswick 989
29Farmington 991
30Bath 994
31Paris 1,037
32Old Orchard Beach 1,082
33Houlton 1,087
34Windham 1,115
35Rockland 1,153
36Gardiner 1,172
37Presque Isle 1,178
38Brewer 1,187
39Saco 1,195
40Belfast 1,263
41Bridgton 1,285
42Fairfield 1,396
43Lewiston 1,541
44South Portland 1,657
45Westbrook 1,738
46Ellsworth 1,784
47Auburn 1,895
48Rumford 1,942
49Portland 2,009
50Sanford 2,161
51Waterville 2,367
52Bangor 2,629
53Skowhegan 2,635
54Biddeford 2,635
55Augusta 3,205

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.

The FBI Crime Report noted that ‘Because of changes in the state / local agency’s reporting practices, figures are not comparable to previous years’ data’ for Gorham, Windam and Bridgton. Those cities remained in the study because there was no indication of inaccurate reporting for the year in question.

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!

RankCityPopulationViolent Crime per 100KProperty Crime per 100KCrime Score
47Auburn 22,973 122 3,857 1,895
55Augusta 18,717 417 5,834 3,205
52Bangor 32,586 169 5,149 2,629
18Bar Harbor 5,334 19 1,819 706
30Bath 8,325 48 2,342 994
40Belfast 6,659 150 2,703 1,263
17Berwick 7,502 93 1,426 697
54Biddeford 21,304 488 4,135 2,635
38Brewer 9,335 86 2,646 1,187
41Bridgton 5,337 37 3,298 1,285
28Brunswick 20,354 93 1,921 989
21Buxton 8,096 111 1,495 758
6Cape Elizabeth 9,151 66 951 481
22Caribou 7,899 51 1,747 760
2Cumberland 7,441 13 390 172
1Eliot 6,257 32 288 158
46Ellsworth 7,911 76 4,273 1,784
42Fairfield 6,623 136 3,110 1,396
5Falmouth 11,585 17 1,070 463
29Farmington 7,595 132 2,028 991
26Freeport 8,169 73 1,959 881
36Gardiner 5,669 123 2,628 1,172
12Gorham 16,958 59 1,179 599
7Hampden 7,303 41 1,109 492
33Houlton 5,974 167 2,210 1,087
3Kennebunk 11,095 54 649 350
14Kittery 9,599 - 1,583 631
43Lewiston 36,402 231 2,456 1,541
24Lincoln 5,068 20 2,170 833
8Lisbon 8,881 113 867 520
16Oakland 6,210 193 1,047 690
32Old Orchard Beach 8,705 115 2,286 1,082
23Old Town 7,692 91 1,625 773
10Orono 10,757 37 1,199 543
31Paris 5,116 98 2,404 1,037
49Portland 66,380 238 3,215 2,009
37Presque Isle 9,337 182 2,238 1,178
35Rockland 7,190 70 2,712 1,153
48Rumford 5,705 228 4,259 1,942
11Sabattus 5,027 119 1,015 552
39Saco 18,974 200 1,992 1,195
50Sanford 20,848 369 3,526 2,161
27Scarborough 19,454 77 1,902 948
53Skowhegan 8,518 282 5,576 2,635
9South Berwick 7,305 123 876 529
44South Portland 25,327 154 3,147 1,657
15Topsham 8,690 35 1,565 671
51Waterville 16,022 331 4,307 2,367
13Wells 9,930 70 1,279 624
45Westbrook 17,809 208 3,257 1,738
34Windham 17,556 97 2,239 1,115
25Winslow 7,643 131 1,701 864
19Winthrop 5,992 83 1,636 744
4Yarmouth 8,517 35 869 397
20York 12,736 39 1,688 757

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