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.
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.
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.
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.
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%.
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.
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.
|34||Big Stone Gap||1,610|
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!
Crime per 100K
Crime per 100K
|34||Big Stone Gap||5,533||199||3,506||1,610|