2016 Safest Places in Virginia

by Susan Gulliford

The ValuePenguin team analyzed the most recent FBI Crime Report to determine the safest cities in Virginia. These 60 cities with populations of more than 5,000 residents had crime scores that ranged from 114 to 3,702. The key takeaway is that the Old Dominion offers a wide range of safe communities to its residents. 

There are affluent communities -- defined as median household income 50% or more above the state’s median household income -- in the top five, but they did not dominate the safest places like in states such as Pennsylvania or Illinois. Different regions of the state were represented in the top five as well. Virginia is also unusual because the largest city, Virginia Beach, made the top ten for safest big cities. For more information, you can review the full report below.

5 Safest Places in Virginia

These cities had an average final crime score of 337, which was 79% lower than their typical peer in the state. The team at ValuePenguin determined that these five are the safest cities in the Virginia.

1. Bridgewater

The safest community in this study is a college town (home to Bridgewater College), and it's located in the Shenandoah Valley. Despite being the smallest place in the top five (population of 5,938), the police department offers a variety of programs such as a Citizens Police Academy and self-defense classes for women. Bridgewater achieved the second-lowest rate of violent crime and the lowest rate of property crime of any town in this study.  

2. Purcellville

This town has grown nearly 20% from the 2010 census, yet residents have not had to compromise on safety. Purcellville had the lowest rate of violent crime and the second-lowest rate of property crime in this study. It is an affluent community with a median household income 86% above the state’s median household income. Purcellville is located in northern Virginia, approximately a one-hour drive from Washington, D.C.

3. Lexington

This city is the second college town to make the top five. Lexington is home to both the Virginia Military Institute and Washington and Lee University. It is located approximately one hour east of the West Virginia border. Lexington achieved the fourth-lowest rate of violent crime and property crime in this research. As a college town, the police department stresses its commitment to protect residents and visitors alike. 

4. Poquoson

The safest midsize city comes in at number four. Poquoson is an independent community approximately 10 miles from Newport News, Va. In addition to a low rate of violent crime, it had the third lowest rate of property crime. The police department emphasizes good community relations. The median household income was approximately $19,000 above the state’s median, and Poquoson had the exact same percentage of adults with bachelor’s degrees as the state of Virginia, 35.8%. 

5. Vienna

Vienna is the second mid-size (population of 16,527) community to make the top five. This city in Fairfax County is an approximately 17-mile drive from Washington, D.C. It had the third-lowest rate of violent crime in addition to a low rate of property crime. The 41 sworn officers along with the civilian employees and auxiliary officers work to keep crime low. Vienna is an affluent city with a median household income that is double that of the state’s median, and 66% of the adult population (25 and older) had 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 25,000, and larger cities with populations greater than 25,000. Here are our findings:

Full List of Places in Virginia

Below is the entire list of places that we included in our “Safest Places in Virginia” 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 Bridgewater  114
2 Purcellville  197
3 Lexington  402
4 Poquoson  479
5 Vienna  495
6 Blacksburg  556
7 Manassas Park  610
8 Strasburg  683
9 Williamsburg  757
10 Warrenton  778
11 Falls Church  876
12 Fairfax City  879
13 Herndon  896
14 Leesburg  918
15 Smithfield  945
16 Dumfries  963
17 Covington  982
18 Abingdon  982
19 Salem  1,068
20 Christiansburg  1,085
21 Wytheville  1,183
22 Staunton  1,272
23 Richlands  1,285
24 Woodstock  1,291
25 Farmville  1,389
26 Alexandria  1,393
27 Manassas  1,397
28 Harrisonburg  1,416
29 Front Royal  1,425
30 Pulaski  1,510
31 Virginia Beach  1,561
32 Culpeper  1,579
33 Waynesboro  1,598
34 Big Stone Gap  1,610
35 Bristol  1,717
36 Vinton  1,737
37 Martinsville  1,747
38 Suffolk  1,812
39 Ashland  1,841
40 Marion  1,908
41 Radford  1,915
42 Hopewell  1,971
43 Lynchburg  2,154
44 Hampton  2,176
45 Charlottesville  2,211
46 Petersburg  2,214
47 Winchester  2,299
48 Franklin  2,303
49 Chesapeake  2,390
50 Colonial Heights  2,426
51 Newport News  2,500
52 Bedford  2,570
53 South Boston  2,609
54 Fredericksburg  2,638
55 Emporia  2,648
56 Danville  2,733
57 Roanoke  2,770
58 Norfolk  3,230
59 Richmond  3,300
60 Portsmouth  3,702

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 City Population Violent
Crime per 100K
Property
Crime per 100K
Crime Score
18 Abingdon  8,209  171  1,827  982
26 Alexandria  151,065  183  1,959  1,393
39 Ashland  7,303  260  3,724  1,841
52 Bedford  5,882  204  6,001  2,570
34 Big Stone Gap  5,533  199  3,506  1,610
6 Blacksburg  43,842  75  896  556
1 Bridgewater  5,938  17  236  114
35 Bristol  17,225  313  2,798  1,717
45 Charlottesville  44,574  429  3,042  2,211
49 Chesapeake  232,489  426  2,749  2,390
20 Christiansburg  21,663  97  2,114  1,085
50 Colonial Heights  17,706  203  4,897  2,426
17 Covington  5,786  173  1,918  982
32 Culpeper  17,259  243  2,752  1,579
56 Danville  42,936  450  4,101  2,733
16 Dumfries  5,212  77  2,283  963
55 Emporia  5,511  526  4,972  2,648
12 Fairfax City  24,345  74  1,709  879
11 Falls Church  13,794  130  1,595  876
25 Farmville  8,043  224  2,661  1,389
48 Franklin  8,651  324  4,554  2,303
54 Fredericksburg  29,158  449  4,112  2,638
29 Front Royal  15,009  153  2,798  1,425
44 Hampton  136,590  254  3,221  2,176
28 Harrisonburg  52,026  198  2,210  1,416
13 Herndon  24,714  194  1,262  896
42 Hopewell  22,054  376  3,033  1,971
14 Leesburg  48,913  119  1,484  918
3 Lexington  7,203  69  764  402
43 Lynchburg  78,639  467  2,533  2,154
27 Manassas  42,641  328  1,705  1,397
7 Manassas Park  16,618  132  915  610
40 Marion  5,889  357  3,634  1,908
37 Martinsville  13,765  356  2,797  1,747
51 Newport News  182,374  429  3,034  2,500
58 Norfolk  247,078  518  3,917  3,230
46 Petersburg  32,546  581  2,584  2,214
4 Poquoson  12,098  107  744  479
60 Portsmouth  96,435  602  5,017  3,702
30 Pulaski  8,918  280  2,702  1,510
2 Purcellville  8,821  11  453  197
41 Radford  17,383  593  2,146  1,915
23 Richlands  5,634  195  2,645  1,285
59 Richmond  216,747  579  3,870  3,300
57 Roanoke  98,941  344  4,171  2,770
19 Salem  25,415  114  1,967  1,068
15 Smithfield  8,251  182  1,685  945
53 South Boston  7,954  427  4,979  2,609
22 Staunton  24,499  127  2,392  1,272
8 Strasburg  6,537  138  1,239  683
38 Suffolk  85,987  269  2,597  1,812
5 Vienna  16,527  48  980  495
36 Vinton  8,174  453  2,630  1,737
31 Virginia Beach  451,102  146  2,175  1,561
10 Warrenton  9,920  91  1,583  778
33 Waynesboro  21,321  155  3,072  1,598
9 Williamsburg  15,494  161  1,162  757
47 Winchester  27,481  309  3,941  2,299
24 Woodstock  5,210  173  2,783  1,291
21 Wytheville  8,240  97  2,633  1,183

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