2016 Safest Places in North Carolina

by Susan Gulliford

Whether it is the 10 million people already living there or the 281 people moving there each day, all North Carolinians care about their safety. The ValuePenguin analyzed the most recent FBI Crime Report to determine the safest places in North Carolina. These 115 communities with populations of at least 5,000 have crime scores that range from 321 to 8,858.

All of the safest communities have populations of under 35,000. However, small does not necessarily equal safe. The five least safest communities had populations between 5,000 and 25,000. In fact the sixth-largest city in the research, Cary, ranked as the eighth-safest place overall.

5 Safest Places in North Carolina

These cities had an average final crime score of 472, which was 81% lower than their typical peer in the state. The ValuePenguin determined that these five are the safest cities in North Carolina.

1. Pinehurst

Pinehurst offers safety to people and their property. This community, known to golf fans as the home of the famous Pinehurst Resort, had the lowest rate of violent crime and the lowest rate of property crime of any city in North Carolina. In fact, Pinehurst was the only city in this research with a crime score under 400. Both the police and fire departments have won numerous awards for achievements in public safety.

2. Elon

Elon (population of 9,537) is the smallest community in the top five. It is an approximately 27-minute drive from Greensboro, NC and is home to a university of the same name. It had the third-lowest rate of violent crime and the fifth-lowest rate of property crime of any city in this research. Due to its college town flavor, it had a median household income below the average for North Carolina.

3. Holly Springs

The safest large community ranked third in this research. In addition to a low rate of violent crime, it had the second-lowest rate of property crime in this research. It is approximately 20 miles from the state capital of Raleigh. Holly Springs is an affluent city where almost 55% of the residents over 25 have at least a bachelor’s degree, and the median household income is nearly $92,000.

4. Waxhaw

This town, whose motto is ‘Proud of Our Past... Passionate About Our Future,’ came in at number four. The police department encourages a partnership between itself and the community. This approach has been fruitful. Waxhaw had the third-lowest rate of property crime in addition to a low rate of violent crime. This community, located approximately 30 miles from Charlotte, had a median household income approximately $28,000 above the average for North Carolina.

5. Davidson

Davidson is the second college town in the top five. The police department’s core values of treating everyone equally and partnering with the community to prevent crime have paid off for Davidson’s residents and businesses. It had the fourth-lowest rate of property crime for North Carolina cities, and Davidson reported a mere eight violent crimes in 2014. This town, located 22 miles from Charlotte had a median household income double that of North Carolina and a very high percentage of residents (66%) with a college 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 25,000, and larger cities with populations greater than 25,000. Here are our findings:

Safest Places in North Carolina

Full List of Places in North Carolina

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

Pinehurst321

2

Elon467

3

Holly Springs519

4

Waxhaw519

5

Davidson536

6

Apex613

7

Fletcher694

8

Cary704

9

Black Mountain721

10

Stallings725

11

Gibsonville737

12

Cornelius839

13

Winterville867

14

Mount Holly902

15

Woodfin903

16

Havelock921

17

Morrisville979

18

Leland1,010

19

Bessemer City1,074

20

Wendell1,077

21

Boone1,110

22

Archdale1,112

23

Huntersville1,134

24

Mint Hill1,141

25

Wake Forest1,219

26

Boiling Spring Lakes1,244

27

Carrboro1,259

28

Clayton1,285

29

Kannapolis1,331

30

Chapel Hill1,343

31

Brevard1,378

32

Matthews1,392

33

Kings Mountain1,441

34

Butner1,470

35

Knightdale1,535

36

Concord1,627

37

King1,656

38

Fuquay-Varina1,731

39

Mooresville1,743

40

Cherryville1,755

41

Tarboro1,807

42

Waynesville1,839

43

Belmont1,953

44

Carolina Beach1,987

45

Sanford1,997

46

Eden2,011

47

Morganton2,056

48

Oak Island2,065

49

Mocksville2,106

50

Aberdeen2,130

51

Mebane2,131

52

Newton2,168

53

Lexington2,208

54

Hendersonville2,241

55

Lenoir2,258

56

Ayden2,270

57

Kernersville2,293

58

Garner2,326

59

Siler City2,386

60

Thomasville2,400

61

Conover2,421

62

Graham2,461

63

Hamlet2,490

64

Lincolnton2,543

65

Roxboro2,552

66

Southern Pines2,570

67

New Bern2,590

68

Mount Airy2,622

69

Morehead City2,625

70

Reidsville2,706

71

Elizabeth City2,720

72

Clinton2,726

73

High Point2,729

74

Shelby2,755

75

Wilson2,796

76

Kill Devil Hills2,832

77

Hickory2,879

78

Forest City2,923

79

Spring Lake2,961

80

Greensboro3,002

81

Albemarle3,037

82

Greenville3,053

83

Statesville3,085

84

Asheboro3,102

85

Selma3,153

86

Burlington3,169

87

Monroe3,195

88

Hope Mills3,318

89

Charlotte-Mecklenburg3,516

90

Smithfield3,518

91

Asheville3,522

92

Hillsborough3,579

93

Salisbury3,614

94

Wilmington3,671

95

Marion3,674

96

Gastonia3,720

97

Roanoke Rapids3,741

98

Fayetteville3,799

99

Dunn3,918

100

Ahoskie3,924

101

Washington3,945

102

Durham3,981

103

Oxford4,033

104

Laurinburg4,044

105

Rocky Mount4,084

106

Wadesboro4,147

107

Rockingham4,401

108

Goldsboro4,403

109

Winston-Salem4,444

110

Williamston5,091

111

Pineville5,523

112

Kinston5,989

113

Henderson6,415

114

Whiteville6,988

115

Lumberton8,858

Year-over-year Change

North Carolina offers many consistently safe cities for current and future residents. Four of the five safest areas for 2015 were in the top five for 2016. Pinehurst and Elon were either ranked one or two in both researched years.

More cities reported data to the FBI for 2014, so the ValuePenguin team changed the size categories to ensure an even distribution. Holly Springs went from being the second-safest mid-size city for 2015 to the safest member of the large category in 2016. Despite the changes, Pinehurst and Elon ranked number one in the mid-size and small categories respectively.

With revisions to the size categories, last year’s number one, Apex, and number two, Cary, ranked safest cities moved down a place in 2016. Large college towns can also boast about their safety records. Chapel Hill and Wake Forest were among the ten safest large cities in both 2015 and 2016.

Safest Places in North Carolina

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.

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

50

Aberdeen7,0441424,9692,130

100

Ahoskie5,0171,0176,5383,924

81

Albemarle16,0335864,8773,037

6

Apex43,411641,064613

22

Archdale11,5881382,1831,112

84

Asheboro26,0782615,9823,102

91

Asheville88,1845684,8503,522

56

Ayden5,0787093,2892,270

43

Belmont10,4532104,0181,953

19

Bessemer City5,4661462,2871,074

9

Black Mountain8,138371,696721

26

Boiling Spring Lakes5,6721942,5391,244

21

Boone18,4961781,8871,110

31

Brevard7,6361442,9731,378

86

Burlington51,6276823,9983,169

34

Butner7,7223892,2271,470

44

Carolina Beach6,0532484,2621,987

27

Carrboro21,2401462,3261,259

8

Cary154,978631,104704

30

Chapel Hill60,1901432,2381,343

89

Charlotte-Mecklenburg856,9165903,5673,516

40

Cherryville5,8873573,2271,755

28

Clayton18,0891932,2441,285

72

Clinton8,8804175,2362,726

36

Concord84,5581142,8481,627

61

Conover8,2502555,1642,421

12

Cornelius27,3961201,409839

5

Davidson11,954671,046536

99

Dunn9,8686897,0533,918

102

Durham249,7387344,4393,981

46

Eden15,4353953,2202,011

71

Elizabeth City18,1625014,3832,720

2

Elon9,537311,049467

98

Fayetteville205,3065065,1263,799

7

Fletcher7,422271,684694

78

Forest City7,3861227,0672,923

38

Fuquay-Varina22,1342582,9551,731

58

Garner26,9991894,4932,326

96

Gastonia73,5766585,0133,720

11

Gibsonville6,693601,688737

108

Goldsboro36,4818996,0554,403

62

Graham14,3044754,0202,461

80

Greensboro282,2034773,6003,002

82

Greenville90,1985194,0853,053

63

Hamlet6,6124694,6432,490

16

Havelock20,981761,825921

113

Henderson15,3321,4949,3536,415

54

Hendersonville13,5513324,0962,241

77

Hickory40,4353914,6872,879

73

High Point108,5404653,5592,729

92

Hillsborough6,4518535,9843,579

3

Holly Springs30,02667893519

88

Hope Mills16,3994276,1653,318

23

Huntersville51,3741131,9561,134

29

Kannapolis44,7841792,1481,331

57

Kernersville23,6733423,8742,293

76

Kill Devil Hills6,9766164,9032,832

37

King6,9073193,0401,656

33

Kings Mountain10,6502072,7511,441

112

Kinston21,6351,8076,5875,989

35

Knightdale13,7751812,9841,535

104

Laurinburg15,7311,0365,4924,044

18

Leland16,587962,0081,010

55

Lenoir17,9942394,3512,258

53

Lexington19,0084423,3932,208

64

Lincolnton10,8034724,4152,543

115

Lumberton21,8771,65913,7728,858

95

Marion7,9054177,7553,674

32

Matthews29,9271502,5091,392

51

Mebane13,3991574,5382,131

24

Mint Hill24,9851362,0491,141

49

Mocksville5,1472334,7412,106

87

Monroe34,2514555,2233,195

39

Mooresville35,1822252,9361,743

69

Morehead City9,3304934,6412,625

47

Morganton16,7862563,8422,056

17

Morrisville22,799482,053979

68

Mount Airy10,4204514,7222,622

14

Mount Holly13,9681291,661902

67

New Bern30,3714024,1722,590

52

Newton13,0624823,3382,168

48

Oak Island7,3172734,2502,065

103

Oxford8,7488806,7104,033

1

Pinehurst15,3916741321

111

Pineville8,20653611,9675,523

70

Reidsville14,0933195,2442,706

97

Roanoke Rapids15,6025836,5893,741

107

Rockingham9,4593289,7584,401

105

Rocky Mount56,7579394,8354,084

65

Roxboro8,3423485,1192,552

93

Salisbury33,6277115,1423,614

45

Sanford29,8052653,4021,997

85

Selma6,2759244,6063,153

74

Shelby20,3307183,5222,755

59

Siler City8,2373524,6862,386

90

Smithfield11,7027265,7433,518

66

Southern Pines13,1615703,9592,570

79

Spring Lake13,3016544,5642,961

10

Stallings14,8481211,253725

83

Statesville25,6436284,4853,085

41

Tarboro11,3281853,7161,807

60

Thomasville27,0123743,9202,400

106

Wadesboro5,6659897,0964,147

25

Wake Forest35,9561562,0531,219

101

Washington9,8267636,8293,945

4

Waxhaw11,678601,036519

42

Waynesville9,7122993,4181,839

20

Wendell6,2001942,0651,077

114

Whiteville5,6541,46812,7526,988

110

Williamston5,3451,5727,3715,091

94

Wilmington113,4186754,5603,671

75

Wilson49,7315333,8232,796

109

Winston-Salem238,0827125,4174,444

13

Winterville9,5941251,678867

15

Woodfin6,2622081,549903

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