California’s iconic cities, such as the Hollywood sign and Lombard Street, have always been a source of fascination for many. However, despite their charm, some of these cities have gained notoriety for their high crime rates. In this article, we present a list of the top ten cities in California that are plagued by crime in 2023.
10 Most Dangerous Cities in California (2023)
- San Bernardino
Emeryville, California has been identified as the most dangerous city in the state, with a violent crime rate of 2,356 per 100,000 residents. Despite its small population of 12,905, the city is plagued by high levels of crime, particularly property and vehicle theft. In 2022, there was a significant surge in reported theft incidents, along with over 300 reported incidents of violent crimes.
Emeryville, California has been deemed the most dangerous place to live in California, with a population so small that each citizen has a 1 in 43 chance of being a victim of a violent crime.
Oakland, California, is notorious for its exceedingly high crime rates, making it one of the most perilous cities in the United States. Despite a decline in crime since the 1990s, its statistics still surpass the national average, with the city’s violent crime rate standing at 392% higher than the country’s average. As of 2022, the violent crime rate in Oakland was 1,547 per 100,000 residents, showing an 8% increase from the previous year.
Oakland, situated in Alameda County, serves as a significant commercial hub in the East Bay Area. Boasting a population of 440,646, it is the third-largest city in the Bay Area and the eighth-largest in California.
The city’s most commonly reported crimes are vehicle theft, property theft, burglary, and assault. Unfortunately, gun violence is also a significant problem in many parts of the city, with much of it being linked to gang activity.
3. San Bernardino
San Bernardino, with a population of 222,101, is notorious for its high crime rate, making it one of the most violent cities in California. Shockingly, the city’s violent crime rate stands at 1,310 per 100,000 people, which is a staggering 331% higher than the national average. From 2017 to 2022, San Bernardino saw a sharp increase of up to 39% in violent crimes like robbery and murder. Despite a decrease in property crime, aggravated assault has risen by a shocking 145% since 2017, further cementing San Bernardino’s reputation as one of the worst cities to live in California.
Located in San Joaquin County, Stockton is known for being one of the most dangerous cities in California’s Central Valley region. With a population of 320,804, the city has a crime rate that surpasses both the US and state average. According to recent statistics, in 2022, there were 1,260 reported cases of violent crime per 100,000 people in Stockton, meaning that the likelihood of becoming a victim was 1 in 79. Shockingly, Stockton’s violent crime rate is 319% higher than the national average, making it a place where safety should be taken seriously.
In 2022, there were over 9,300 reported incidents of property crime in the city, which is significantly higher than in other cities of a similar size.
Located in the South Los Angeles region of California, Compton is infamous for its high crime rates. With a population of 97,740, it is considered one of the most dangerous cities in California. In 2022, the violent crime rate in Compton was 1,105 per 100,000 people, which is a staggering 279% higher than the national average. The city is known for its high incidence of homicides, robberies, and aggravated assaults. Despite efforts to reduce crime, Compton remains a perilous place to live in 2023.
Vallejo, a city in California, has been grappling with elevated crime rates for years now. The city, which is home to 124,886 people, has a violent crime rate of 966 per 100,000 individuals. This rate is 244% higher than the national average, making it a serious cause for concern. Unfortunately, residents of Vallejo have a 1 in 100 chance of becoming victims of violent crimes each year. The most prevalent violent crimes in Vallejo are aggravated assault and robbery, while burglary, theft, and motor vehicle theft are the most common property crimes.
Vallejo’s crime problem is a pressing concern that puts the safety and welfare of its inhabitants at risk. Despite some headway in the reduction of criminal activity, the city remains one of the most hazardous places in California.
Located in the San Francisco Bay area, Richmond is known for its high crime rate and is considered one of the most dangerous places to live in California. With a population of 110,567, the city may be a more affordable option compared to others in the area, but it comes with a reputation for violent crime. In 2022, the violent crime rate in Richmond was 921 per 100,000 people, which is 233% higher than the national average. Additionally, the city reported thousands of incidents of vehicle and property theft during the same year.
Although Richmond may be considered safer than its neighboring city, Oakland, it is still regarded as one of the most perilous places in California and the Bay Area. The northeastern region of the city is commonly believed to be relatively safe, while the central part of the city, known as the “Iron Triangle,” has a high concentration of crime. Due to the prevalence of crime, living in Richmond can be a major safety concern and is considered one of the least desirable areas to reside in California.
Modesto, with a population of approximately 219,000, is located north of Merced and is considered to be one of the most hazardous cities in California. The city has a violent crime rate of 742 per 100,000 individuals, which is 188% higher than the national average. Property crime and theft are the most common types of crimes reported in Modesto. As per the FBI’s 2021 statistics, Modesto witnessed over 5,000 incidents of property crime and more than 1,600 incidents of violent crime. Modesto has gained notoriety for having one of the highest rates of car theft in California, with 2,091 car thefts reported in 2020, or 389 per 1,000 people, which is significantly higher than the national average.
Merced, situated in the Central Valley, is one of the cities in California with the highest crime rates. With a population of 86,333, the city has a violent crime rate of 599 per 100,000 residents.
Merced has been consistently ranked among the most violent metro areas in the country since the 1990s due to high crime rates. While property crime has decreased by up to 20% by 2020, violent crimes have increased sharply. According to FBI statistics, the number of murders in Merced almost doubled from 2019 to 2020.
Located near California’s San Joaquin valley, Bakersfield has a population of approximately 405,000 and is recognized as one of the most perilous cities in California. In 2022, the city’s violent crime rate was 498 per 100,000 inhabitants, which is 27% higher than the national average.
Bakersfield experienced more than 15,500 incidents of property crime in 2022. Despite this, the city witnessed a 30% drop in homicides in the same year as reported by Bakersfield Now, a local news outlet. The prevalence of gang activity in the area has been a persistent issue contributing to the violence in the city. Bakersfield has gained a reputation as one of California’s high-risk cities with an overall crime rate of 94% above the national average.