How Crime has Changed in Colorado Cities in the Past Five Years

When it comes to crime in Colorado, it’s a tale of two states. In one group of communities, the incidence of crime, of both the violent and property varieties, is high and getting higher. In the other, the converse is true: crime rates are generally below average, and in most such cities they’ve been trending downward.

ValuePenguin analyzed the FBI’s 2012-2016 crime data for Colorado, focusing less on the rates in respective communities than how much those have changed in the past five years. We limited our analysis to cities with 10,000 residents and more.

Below, we’ve highlighted those that have the most and least positive records of change. There’s also an alphabetical listing of crime rates and their five-year trend lines in the 35 most populous cities in Colorado, along with a ranking of the most improved and most deteriorated cities for both violent crime and property crime.

A few other overall observations about our data findings:

The biggest “changers” have mostly been smaller cities.

With one notable exception, Colorado Springs, the cities where the most change has occurred—positively or negatively—do not include the state’s biggest centers. The 35 cities we analyzed have a population of about 88,000 on average, yet seven of the 10 standout cities for change have populations that are well below that level.

Both crime types have risen or fallen, for those high-change cities.

The cities where crime has worsened have seen both violent crime and property crime move in the same direction. Typically, both crime types have either improved or become worse. In general, per capita change has been higher for property crime, because it’s much more prevalent; consequently, when there is a shift in crime, the absolute numbers for property crime tend to change more than for violent crime.

For Colorado’s biggest cities, a mixed record.

The three most populous centers of all—and Aurora—saw rises in violent crime. The increase for Denver and Colorado Springs was about the state average, but the hike in Aurora was well above that level. In Aurora, property crime rose too, albeit by only a third or so of the average for the state. In Denver and Colorado Springs, by contrast, property crime dropped—and by much more than the state norm for the Springs.

Colorado Cities Where Crime has Increased the Most, 2012-16

  • Lone Tree

    2,108 additional crimes per 100k residents

    • Violent Crime Change: +191
    • Property Crime Change: +1,917
  • Durango

    1,449 additional crimes per 100k residents

    • Violent Crime Change: -71
    • Property Crime Change: +1,519
  • Lakewood

    995 additional crimes per 100k residents

    • Violent Crime Change: +104
    • Property Crime Change: +891
  • Westminster

    887 additional crimes per 100k residents

    • Violent Crime Change: -25
    • Property Crime Change: +911
  • Wheat Ridge

    820 additional crimes per 100k residents

    • Violent Crime Change: -28
    • Property Crime Change: +849

The cities cited above are diverse in just about every way, except in sharing a negative quality-of-life distinction. The places where crime has worsened most in Colorado in the past five years are widely spread across the state—from Fort Collins and Sterling to the north, through Durango in the south, to Lakewood, Wheat Ridge and Westminster in the center, near Denver.

They also don’t share a lot in terms of affluence. Income per capita is somewhat lower in Durango and Sterling than in the state as a whole, but it’s far higher than the norm in Lone Tree, which has suffered the biggest rise in property crime of any city in the state. Lakewood, Westminster and Wheat Ridge are average in per-capita income.

Colorado Cities Where Crime has Dropped the Most, 2012-16

  • Colorado Springs

    539 fewer crimes per 100k residents

    • Violent Crime Change: +41
    • Property Crime Change: -580
  • Fruita

    487 fewer crimes per 100k residents

    • Violent Crime Change: -8
    • Property Crime Change: -479
  • Fort Collins

    372 fewer crimes per 100k residents

    • Violent Crime Change: -55
    • Property Crime Change: -317
  • Steamboat Springs

    309 fewer crimes per 100k residents

    • Violent Crime Change: -41
    • Property Crime Change: -268
  • Evans

    238 fewer crimes per 100k residents

    • Violent Crime Change: -92
    • Property Crime Change: -145

There’s no better illustration that communities can move the needle, and positively, on all crime than the record of the five cities above, which have seen the biggest declines in their crime stats. Excepting an increase in violent crime in Colorado Springs, all the figures moved in a good direction.

It may have helped, however, that most of these places were relatively crime-free to begin with. Again excepting Colorado Springs, the communities on the list all had below-average crime in 2012, and so wound up even farther below the norm by 2016.

Also, smaller may mean safer. Three of the five cities on the list—Fruita, Steamboat Springs and Evans—have fewer than 20,000 residents, compared with the average of about 88,000 for all the cities on our list.

Change in Crime By Type in Colorado, From Best to Worst by City

Violent Crime, 2012-2016 (per capita change per 100k people)

Property Crime, 2012-2016 (per capita change per 100k people)

Crime Statistics for 35 Colorado Cities, Listed Alphabetically

Changes in crime per 100,000 residents, 2012-2016.

City2016 Total Crime Violent Crime ChangeProperty Crime ChangeTotal Crime Change
Aurora3,58810474178
Boulder3,236-127058
Broomfield2,4582319321
Castle Rock1,634-1213213
Colorado Springs4,05741-580-539
Commerce City3,62878209287
Denver4,24742-124-83
Durango4,170-7115191449
Erie66564046
Evans2,180-92-145-238
Federal Heights6,360-3710467
Firestone1,0671097107
Fort Collins2,659-55-317-372
Fort Morgan2,997197-11879
Fountain2,94195-5639
Fruita1,559-8-479-487
Golden2,479-10-112-123
Grand Junction5,56594455550
Greeley3,65214-173-159
Greenwood Village4,04418104123
Johnstown78712-152-139
Lafayette2,55192646738
Lakewood6,037104891995
Littleton2,842-28-146-174
Lone Tree7,35719119172108
Longmont2,77910227129
Loveland2,82229-1812
Montrose4,534-66787721
Northglenn3,74073656729
Parker1,266-34219185
Pueblo7,782253352605
Steamboat Springs2,637-41-268-309
Sterling3,848126627753
Westminster3,731-25911887
Wheat Ridge5,097-28849820
Windsor1,0803-82-79

Methodology

We drew the statistics that underlie this study from the 2012 and 2016 data from the FBI’s Crime in the US Report (CIUS). Since any data from smaller cities can be less reliable due to small sample size, we included only Colorado cities that have at least 10,000 residents, according to the latest U.S. Census Data. Statistics were separated for violent (murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault) and property (burglary, larceny, motor-vehicle theft and arson). By comparing the 2012 and 2016 data, we determined the change in per capita incidence for both crime types, and then combined those changes to yield an overall change in per-capita crime for every city over the five-year period.

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