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:

Safest Places in Virginia

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

CityCrime Score

1

Bridgewater114

2

Purcellville197

3

Lexington402

4

Poquoson479

5

Vienna495

6

Blacksburg556

7

Manassas Park610

8

Strasburg683

9

Williamsburg757

10

Warrenton778

11

Falls Church876

12

Fairfax City879

13

Herndon896

14

Leesburg918

15

Smithfield945

16

Dumfries963

17

Covington982

18

Abingdon982

19

Salem1,068

20

Christiansburg1,085

21

Wytheville1,183

22

Staunton1,272

23

Richlands1,285

24

Woodstock1,291

25

Farmville1,389

26

Alexandria1,393

27

Manassas1,397

28

Harrisonburg1,416

29

Front Royal1,425

30

Pulaski1,510

31

Virginia Beach1,561

32

Culpeper1,579

33

Waynesboro1,598

34

Big Stone Gap1,610

35

Bristol1,717

36

Vinton1,737

37

Martinsville1,747

38

Suffolk1,812

39

Ashland1,841

40

Marion1,908

41

Radford1,915

42

Hopewell1,971

43

Lynchburg2,154

44

Hampton2,176

45

Charlottesville2,211

46

Petersburg2,214

47

Winchester2,299

48

Franklin2,303

49

Chesapeake2,390

50

Colonial Heights2,426

51

Newport News2,500

52

Bedford2,570

53

South Boston2,609

54

Fredericksburg2,638

55

Emporia2,648

56

Danville2,733

57

Roanoke2,770

58

Norfolk3,230

59

Richmond3,300

60

Portsmouth3,702

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

CityPopulationViolent Crime per 100KProperty Crime per 100KCrime Score

18

Abingdon8,2091711,827982

26

Alexandria151,0651831,9591,393

39

Ashland7,3032603,7241,841

52

Bedford5,8822046,0012,570

34

Big Stone Gap5,5331993,5061,610

6

Blacksburg43,84275896556

1

Bridgewater5,93817236114

35

Bristol17,2253132,7981,717

45

Charlottesville44,5744293,0422,211

49

Chesapeake232,4894262,7492,390

20

Christiansburg21,663972,1141,085

50

Colonial Heights17,7062034,8972,426

17

Covington5,7861731,918982

32

Culpeper17,2592432,7521,579

56

Danville42,9364504,1012,733

16

Dumfries5,212772,283963

55

Emporia5,5115264,9722,648

12

Fairfax City24,345741,709879

11

Falls Church13,7941301,595876

25

Farmville8,0432242,6611,389

48

Franklin8,6513244,5542,303

54

Fredericksburg29,1584494,1122,638

29

Front Royal15,0091532,7981,425

44

Hampton136,5902543,2212,176

28

Harrisonburg52,0261982,2101,416

13

Herndon24,7141941,262896

42

Hopewell22,0543763,0331,971

14

Leesburg48,9131191,484918

3

Lexington7,20369764402

43

Lynchburg78,6394672,5332,154

27

Manassas42,6413281,7051,397

7

Manassas Park16,618132915610

40

Marion5,8893573,6341,908

37

Martinsville13,7653562,7971,747

51

Newport News182,3744293,0342,500

58

Norfolk247,0785183,9173,230

46

Petersburg32,5465812,5842,214

4

Poquoson12,098107744479

60

Portsmouth96,4356025,0173,702

30

Pulaski8,9182802,7021,510

2

Purcellville8,82111453197

41

Radford17,3835932,1461,915

23

Richlands5,6341952,6451,285

59

Richmond216,7475793,8703,300

57

Roanoke98,9413444,1712,770

19

Salem25,4151141,9671,068

15

Smithfield8,2511821,685945

53

South Boston7,9544274,9792,609

22

Staunton24,4991272,3921,272

8

Strasburg6,5371381,239683

38

Suffolk85,9872692,5971,812

5

Vienna16,52748980495

36

Vinton8,1744532,6301,737

31

Virginia Beach451,1021462,1751,561

10

Warrenton9,920911,583778

33

Waynesboro21,3211553,0721,598

9

Williamsburg15,4941611,162757

47

Winchester27,4813093,9412,299

24

Woodstock5,2101732,7831,291

21

Wytheville8,240972,6331,183

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