10 Most Dangerous Cities in California (2024) – Can You Guess The Full List?

According to Propertyclub, California is known for its iconic landmarks and vibrant cities that have captivated people’s imaginations. However, amidst the glitz and glamour, there are some cities in the Golden State that face significant crime challenges. In this article, we will explore the ten cities in California that are considered the most dangerous in terms of crime rates. Let’s dive in and shed light on these cities and the issues they face.

10 Most Dangerous Cities in California (2024)

    1. Emeryville
    2. Oakland
    3. San Bernardino
    4. Stockton
    5. Compton
    6. Vallejo
    7. Richmond
    8. Merced
    9. Modesto
    10. Bakersfield

1. Emeryville 

Emeryville, a city in California, holds the dubious distinction of being the most dangerous city in the state. With a violent crime rate of 2,356 per 100,000 residents, it is a place where crime is rampant. Despite its relatively small population of 12,905, Emeryville sees a significant amount of criminal activity, particularly involving property theft and vehicle theft. In the year 2022 alone, there was a surge in reported incidents of theft, along with over 300 reported incidents of violent crime.

Emeryville, with its small population, poses a significant risk of violent crime, as each citizen faces a 1 in 43 chance of becoming a victim. This makes it the most perilous place to reside in California.

2. Oakland 

Oakland, California, is notorious for its alarmingly high crime rates, making it one of the most perilous cities in the United States. Despite a decrease in crime since the 1990s, Oakland’s crime statistics remain significantly higher than the national average. In fact, the city’s violent crime rate surpasses the national average by a staggering 392%. In 2022, the rate stood at 1,547 incidents per 100,000 residents, marking an 8% increase from the previous year.

With a population of 440,646, Oakland is a thriving commerce hub situated in Alameda County, making it a significant player in the East Bay Area. Notably, it ranks as the third-largest city in the Bay Area and holds the distinction of being the eighth-largest city in California.

Vehicle theft, property theft, burglary, and assault rank among the most frequently reported crimes in the city. One particularly concerning issue that plagues many areas of Oakland is gun violence. Gang activity is often cited as a major contributing factor to the prevalence of gun-related incidents in the city.

3. San Bernardino

San Bernardino, with a population of 222,101, stands out as one of the most violent cities in California. Its violent crime rate, at 1,310 per 100,000 people, surpasses the national average by 331%. Notably, the city has witnessed a concerning increase in violent crimes like robbery and murder, with a rise of up to 39% from 2017 to 2022. Although property crime has seen a decline since 2017, the incidents of aggravated assault have spiked by a staggering 145% during the same period. As a result, San Bernardino has earned a reputation as one of the most challenging places to reside in California.

4. Stockton 

Stockton, located in San Joaquin County, 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 national and state average. In 2022, the reported violent crime rate stood at 1,260 per 100,000 people, resulting in a 1 in 79 chance of becoming a victim. Shockingly, Stockton’s violent crime rate is a staggering 319% higher than the national average.

In 2022, there were over 9,300 reported incidents of property crime in the city, which is considerably higher compared to other cities of similar size.

5. Compton

Compton, situated in the South Los Angeles region of California, has gained notoriety as one of the most crime-ridden cities in the state. With a population of 97,740, the city has witnessed a staggering rate of violent crime. In 2022, Compton recorded a violent crime rate of 1,105 per 100,000 people, surpassing the national average by a staggering 279%. The city’s prevalence of homicides, robberies, and aggravated assaults remains alarmingly high. Despite ongoing efforts to combat crime, living in Compton continues to pose significant risks in 2023.

6. Vallejo

Vallejo, a city in California, has long been grappling with alarming crime rates. With a population of 124,886, Vallejo experiences a violent crime rate of 966 per 100,000 people, surpassing the national average by 244%. This means that residents of Vallejo face a 1 in 100 chance of becoming victims of violent crimes annually. Aggravated assault and robbery are the prevalent forms of violent crimes in Vallejo, whereas burglary, theft, and motor vehicle theft are the common property crimes plaguing the city.

Vallejo is plagued by crime, posing a continuous threat to the safety and well-being of its residents. Despite making efforts to combat this issue, the city remains one of the most hazardous in California.

7. Richmond

Richmond, a city with a population of 110,567, is situated in the San Francisco Bay area and is notorious for its high crime rates. Despite being a more affordable option near San Francisco, Richmond has gained notoriety for its prevalence of violent crimes. In 2023, the city’s violent crime rate stood at 921 per 100,000 people, a staggering 233% higher than the national average. The same year also witnessed numerous reported incidents of vehicle and property theft, which numbered in the thousands.

Richmond, although relatively safer than Oakland, is still considered one of the most dangerous places in California and the Bay Area. The northeastern part of the city is generally regarded as safer, while the central area, known as the “Iron Triangle,” experiences a significant concentration of crime. Given the high crime rate, Richmond is not an ideal place to live in California if safety is a top priority.

8. Modesto

Modesto, with a population of around 219,000, is notorious for being one of the most dangerous cities in California. Its violent crime rate stands at 742 per 100,000 people, which is a staggering 188% higher than the national average. Property crime and theft are the most common offenses in Modesto. According to FBI statistics from 2021, there were over 5,000 reported incidents of property crime and more than 1,600 incidents of violent crime. One particularly alarming fact about Modesto is its exceptionally high rate of car theft, surpassing the statewide average. In 2020 alone, the city recorded 2,091 car thefts, equivalent to 389 per 1,000 residents, far exceeding the national average.

9. Merced

Located in the Central Valley, Merced is known as one of the worst cities in California in terms of crime. With a population of 86,333, the city has a violent crime rate of 599 per 100,000 residents. Merced also holds the unfortunate title of having the highest homicide rate in the state, with 12.3 per 100,000 people. This has earned it the reputation of being the murder capital of California.

Since the 1990s, Merced has been grappling with persistently high crime rates, earning it a notorious reputation as one of the country’s most violent metro areas. Although property crime in Merced experienced a significant decline of up to 20% by 2020, the city has witnessed a sharp rise in violent crimes. According to FBI statistics for the year 2020, the number of murders in Merced nearly doubled compared to the previous year.

10. Bakersfield

Bakersfield, located near California’s San Joaquin Valley, is widely recognized as one of the most dangerous cities in California. With a population of approximately 405,000, the city has experienced a high rate of violent crime. In 2023, Bakersfield reported a violent crime rate of 498 incidents per 100,000 people, surpassing the national average by 27%.

Bakersfield experienced more than 15,300 property crime incidents in 2023. However, there is some positive news as the city witnessed a 30% reduction in homicides in 2022 compared to 2020, according to Bakersfield Now, a local news agency. The prevalence of gang activity has been a major contributing factor to the violence in Bakersfield, which has been a persistent issue for several years. With a crime rate that is 94% higher than the national average, Bakersfield has gained a reputation as one of the more perilous cities in California.

Most Dangerous Cities in California Comparison

Rank City Violent Crime Rate (per 100,000 residents)
1 Emeryville 2,356
2 Oakland 1,547
3 San Bernadino 1,310
4 Stockton 1,260
5 Compton 1,105
6 Vallejo 966
7 Richmond 921
8 Modesto 742
9 Merced 599
10 Bakersfield 498

Methodology For Determining the Most Dangerous Cities in California

In order to identify the most perilous cities in California in 2024, we analyzed the crime rates of each city, taking into account the per capita occurrences of theft, burglary, and murder. While cities like Los Angeles may have a higher number of reported crimes, there are smaller cities that exhibit a higher concentration of criminal incidents, rendering them statistically more violent.

The data used in this analysis is sourced from the latest statistics provided by the FBI Uniform Crime Report, as well as data released by city and county governments.

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