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Cities with the biggest spike in crime in the last decade

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Ron Cogswell // Flickr

Cities with the biggest spike in crime in the last decade

Crime is typically opportunistic. Population increases, the presence of universities, legalized gambling or other major attractions, and an increase in community affluence will draw more crime. High levels of poverty, joblessness, general desperation, and low education levels will also cause crime to spike, as socio-economics is as much a driver of criminal actions as criminal impulses. While FBI data shows there has been a 3.3 percent decrease in violent crimes nationwide from 2017 to 2018, the five-year trend shows a 4.7 percent increase from 2014 figures. 

For those living in cities with high crime, this not only means an erosion of personal safety, but also a decrease in property values, an increase in insurance rates, and an increased presence of police and law enforcement in residential areas.

To help determine which American cities have experienced the largest spike in crime in the last decade, Stacker referenced 2018 data from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program (released Sept. 30, 2019) and compared it to the 2009 report. The forthcoming gallery looks at increases in property crimes (categorized by the FBI as burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson) and violent crimes—with all figures stated as arrests per thousand people.  The FBI defines violent crimes as including murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. Our analysis focused on cities with populations of more than 25,000. Cities are ranked by the 10-year change in violent crime arrest rates, with changes in the rape arrest rate breaking any ties. For context on socio-economic factors impacting crime rates, most of the analysis also references the specific economic challenges, poverty rates, and education levels for each city. 

You may also like: Cities with the most theft arrests

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Wayne James // Shutterstock

#25. Florence, AL

- Population in 2018: 39,925 (+4.91% 10-year change)
- 2018 violent crime arrests per 1,000 people: 5.2 (+51.04% 10-year change)
- 2018 rape arrests per 1,000 people: 0.6 (+56.59% 10-year change)
- 2018 aggravated assault arrests per 1,000 people: 3.7 (+125.43% 10-year change)
- 2018 larceny-theft arrests per 1,000 people: 30.4 (-2.19% 10-year change)

Florence is a northwestern city in Alabama that is part of the Florence-Muscle Shoals Metropolitan Statistical Area. Home of the University of North Alabama, Florence is located in a region called “the Shoals,” known for its music scene and for being the home of Sam Phillips, the producer who helped make Elvis Presley famous. The city’s high crime rate may be due to its high rate of poverty—nearly one in four Florence residents live in poverty.

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greeblie // Flickr

#24. Evansville, IN

- Population in 2018: 118,765 (+2.59% 10-year change)
- 2018 violent crime arrests per 1,000 people: 5.7 (+52.31% 10-year change)
- 2018 rape arrests per 1,000 people: 0.8 (+47.84% 10-year change)
- 2018 aggravated assault arrests per 1,000 people: 3.5 (+74.88% 10-year change)
- 2018 larceny-theft arrests per 1,000 people: 34.3 (-1.56% 10-year change)

The third-most-populous city in Indiana after Indianapolis and Fort Wayne, Evansville is the hub of Southwestern Indiana. Home of the state’s first legal casino, Evansville is considered to be safer than just 3% of American cities, per Neighborhood Scout. As poverty and economic desperation are drivers to crime, Evansville faces challenges given 62% of the city’s 16+ population is in the labor force, with almost one in four city residents experiencing poverty.

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Seabear70 // Wikimedia Commons

#23. Sioux Falls, SD

- Population in 2018: 180,335 (+13.65% 10-year change)
- 2018 violent crime arrests per 1,000 people: 4.4 (+52.72% 10-year change)
- 2018 rape arrests per 1,000 people: 0.7 (-19.95% 10-year change)
- 2018 aggravated assault arrests per 1,000 people: 3.1 (+78.88% 10-year change)
- 2018 larceny-theft arrests per 1,000 people: 22.7 (+0.46% 10-year change)

The largest city in South Dakota, Sioux Falls is a major financial industry hub. Wells Fargo, Citigroup, Esurance, MetaBank, and First Premier Bank all having major presences in the city. Sioux Falls has an 11% poverty rate and a significantly higher violent crime rate than its neighbors.

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Tim Keiser // Wikimedia Commons

#22. Mansfield, OH

- Population in 2018: 45,941 (-6.91% 10-year change)
- 2018 violent crime arrests per 1,000 people: 5.2 (+53.36% 10-year change)
- 2018 rape arrests per 1,000 people: 1.3 (+122.24% 10-year change)
- 2018 aggravated assault arrests per 1,000 people: 2.5 (+74.55% 10-year change)
- 2018 larceny-theft arrests per 1,000 people: 34.3 (-0.94% 10-year change)

Located between Cleveland and Columbus on U.S. Interstate 71, Mansfield is a city in Mid-Ohio. Like many Rust Belt cities, Mansfield has suffered from the closing of several of its manufacturing facilities, including Mansfield Tire & Rubber Company, Westinghouse, Tappan Stoves, Ohio Brass Company, and General Motors. The city has a labor force participation for the age 16+ population of 48.1% and a poverty rate of 23.8%.

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Ahturner // Shutterstock

#21. Medford, OR

- Population in 2018: 82,800 (+11.83% 10-year change)
- 2018 violent crime arrests per 1,000 people: 4.9 (+58.75% 10-year change)
- 2018 rape arrests per 1,000 people: 0.4 (-1.64% 10-year change)
- 2018 aggravated assault arrests per 1,000 people: 3.3 (+43.81% 10-year change)
- 2018 larceny-theft arrests per 1,000 people: 43.9 (+27.95% 10-year change)

Medford has found itself in the midst of a transition from an agricultural base to an assisted living and retirement destination. Physically isolated from Portland and other Oregon population centers, Medford is a regional hub and the largest metropolitan area in Jackson County and has a 19.8% poverty rate.

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Jereme Rauckman // Flickr

#20. Eau Claire, WI

- Population in 2018: 68,923 (+4.74% 10-year change)
- 2018 violent crime arrests per 1,000 people: 2.9 (+59.65% 10-year change)
- 2018 rape arrests per 1,000 people: 0.8 (+97.76% 10-year change)
- 2018 aggravated assault arrests per 1,000 people: 1.7 (+48.23% 10-year change)
- 2018 larceny-theft arrests per 1,000 people: 19.3 (-9.30% 10-year change)

Meaning “clear water” in French, Eau Claire is a mid-sized Wisconsin city. Almost 71% of the population aged 16+ is employed. Home to the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Eau Claire between 2013 and 2017 showed a 93.4% high school graduation rate for adults age 25+ and lower crime rates than the state on average—but this is due to Milwaukee warping the state’s average.

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Kate Brady // Flickr

#19. Missoula, MT

- Population in 2018: 74,300 (+6.94% 10-year change)
- 2018 violent crime arrests per 1,000 people: 4.5 (+61.34% 10-year change)
- 2018 rape arrests per 1,000 people: 0.9 (+117.08% 10-year change)
- 2018 aggravated assault arrests per 1,000 people: 3.0 (+56.32% 10-year change)
- 2018 larceny-theft arrests per 1,000 people: 39.6 (+59.22% 10-year change)

Missoula is the second-largest city in Montana by population and home of the University of Montana. Formerly a timber industry giant, the demise of that industry in the city has led the university and city hospitals to become the top employers in the area. Missoula has a 19.8% poverty rate—nearly double the national average—and 95.7% high school graduate rate for its age 25+ population, which comes in better than the U.S. high school graduation rate of 87.3%.

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Mahmoud Masad // Shutterstock

#18. Rome, NY

- Population in 2018: 32,298 (-3.71% 10-year change)
- 2018 violent crime arrests per 1,000 people: 1.5 (+69.63% 10-year change)
- 2018 rape arrests per 1,000 people: 0.3 (+211.56% 10-year change)
- 2018 aggravated assault arrests per 1,000 people: 0.8 (+115.70% 10-year change)
- 2018 larceny-theft arrests per 1,000 people: 12.7 (-17.28% 10-year change)

Rome is a city in Upstate New York that is a suburb of Utica and part of the Syracuse Metropolitan Area. Formerly serviced by the now-closed Griffiss Air Base, the city is still an important part of the national defense portfolio through the Rome Research Site, a part of the Air Force Research Laboratory for air, space, and ground systems. As the second-largest city in the state by land area—second only to New York City—and with a population of only 30,000, Rome is sparsely populated, adding an additional challenge to policing efforts.

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David Byron Keener // Shutterstock

#17. Wheeling, WV

- Population in 2018: 26,855 (-6.30% 10-year change)
- 2018 violent crime arrests per 1,000 people: 8.5 (+70.90% 10-year change)
- 2018 rape arrests per 1,000 people: 0.6 (-22.38% 10-year change)
- 2018 aggravated assault arrests per 1,000 people: 7.4 (+154.10% 10-year change)
- 2018 larceny-theft arrests per 1,000 people: 8.2 (-68.92% 10-year change)

With the decline of West Virginia’s largely monolithic economy due to the shuttering of the coal industry, the state finds itself in the same straits as other low-income states like Mississippi and Alabama. Wheeling, a Rust Belt city in the top of the state, has a poverty rate of 15.5%. Future job market growth is estimated to be lower than the US average, with the city experiencing a higher unemployment rate than the national average.

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Trong Nguyen // Shutterstock

#16. Cupertino, CA

- Population in 2018: 61,078 (+13.61% 10-year change)
- 2018 violent crime arrests per 1,000 people: 1.2 (+71.28% 10-year change)
- 2018 rape arrests per 1,000 people: 0.3 (+296.08% 10-year change)
- 2018 aggravated assault arrests per 1,000 people: 0.7 (+67.65% 10-year change)
- 2018 larceny-theft arrests per 1,000 people: 11.8 (-20.68% 10-year change)

The home of Apple headquarters, Cupertino is a Silicon Valley city that is immediately to the west of San Jose. The city is one of the most educated places in the United States as of 2015 in regards to high school and college completion. Most of Cupertino’s subdivisions were developed after the 1950s, and its high housing prices are largely squeezing out those in the lower income brackets. Median 2017 household income in Cupertino was $153,449—nearly 3 times the national average.

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Christopher Boswell // Shutterstock

#15. Springfield, MO

- Population in 2018: 168,537 (+7.58% 10-year change)
- 2018 violent crime arrests per 1,000 people: 13.2 (+72.24% 10-year change)
- 2018 rape arrests per 1,000 people: 2.0 (+176.37% 10-year change)
- 2018 aggravated assault arrests per 1,000 people: 9.3 (+87.57% 10-year change)
- 2018 larceny-theft arrests per 1,000 people: 49.8 (-28.22% 10-year change)

Springfield is the home to Missouri State University and Drury University, and headquarters for Bass Pro Shops, O’Reilly Auto Parts, Prime, Inc., and Positronic. One of the largest cities in the Ozark Mountains region, more than one in four in the city is impoverished.

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Meronim // Wikimedia Commons

#14. Hillsboro, OR

- Population in 2018: 109,121 (+13.00% 10-year change)
- 2018 violent crime arrests per 1,000 people: 2.6 (+72.77% 10-year change)
- 2018 rape arrests per 1,000 people: 0.6 (+74.13% 10-year change)
- 2018 aggravated assault arrests per 1,000 people: 1.6 (+192.70% 10-year change)
- 2018 larceny-theft arrests per 1,000 people: 15.1 (-4.32% 10-year change)

Located in the western part of the Portland metropolitan area, Hillsboro is part of what is colloquially called “the Silicon Forest.” A counterpart to California’s Silicon Valley, Silicon Forest is a cluster of high tech companies that have a presence in or near Portland, such as Intel and Oracle. Nike is headquartered just outside of Hillsboro in Beaverton.

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Zdv // Wikimedia Commons

#13. Olympia, WA

- Population in 2018: 52,312 (+14.71% 10-year change)
- 2018 violent crime arrests per 1,000 people: 4.7 (+75.78% 10-year change)
- 2018 rape arrests per 1,000 people: 0.7 (+10.42% 10-year change)
- 2018 aggravated assault arrests per 1,000 people: 3.0 (+104.28% 10-year change)
- 2018 larceny-theft arrests per 1,000 people: 28.2 (-17.48% 10-year change)

The capital of Washington State, Olympia is located in the center-west part of the state, about 60 miles southwest of Seattle. With most of the city’s employees being state and local governments’ employees, the city does not have a significant industrial base. Olympia is the home of Evergreen State College.

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shuttersv // Shutterstock

#12. Bentonville, AR

- Population in 2018: 51,607 (+36.47% 10-year change)
- 2018 violent crime arrests per 1,000 people: 2.1 (+76.53% 10-year change)
- 2018 rape arrests per 1,000 people: 0.5 (+241.96% 10-year change)
- 2018 aggravated assault arrests per 1,000 people: 1.4 (+57.33% 10-year change)
- 2018 larceny-theft arrests per 1,000 people: 11.0 (-32.65% 10-year change)

The home of Walmart, Bentonville is a city located in the northwestern extremes of Arkansas. With many large manufacturers establishing offices in the Bentonville area, the city is undergoing explosive growth. This, coupled with the shrinking of the national manufacturing base, is turning northwestern Arkansas into a monolithic economy that rotates around Walmart.

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Michael Mercer // Shutterstock

#11. Chico, CA

- Population in 2018: 94,273 (+11.27% 10-year change)
- 2018 violent crime arrests per 1,000 people: 6.5 (+77.13% 10-year change)
- 2018 rape arrests per 1,000 people: 0.9 (+84.02% 10-year change)
- 2018 aggravated assault arrests per 1,000 people: 4.4 (+165.79% 10-year change)
- 2018 larceny-theft arrests per 1,000 people: 18.7 (+16.46% 10-year change)

Following the 2018 Camp Fire incident, Chico became the home of most of the displaced residents from affected neighboring communities, such as Paradise. This surged the city’s population dramatically— as much as 20%, according to California State estimates.

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Pixabay

#10. Albuquerque, NM

- Population in 2018: 560,235 (+5.58% 10-year change)
- 2018 violent crime arrests per 1,000 people: 13.6 (+77.41% 10-year change)
- 2018 rape arrests per 1,000 people: 0.9 (+39.17% 10-year change)
- 2018 aggravated assault arrests per 1,000 people: 9.1 (+86.70% 10-year change)
- 2018 larceny-theft arrests per 1,000 people: 38.6 (+5.77% 10-year change)

The capital of New Mexico, Albuquerque is the state’s most populous city. Albuquerque is the home of the University of New Mexico, the New Mexico Technology Corridor, Kirtland Air Force Base, and Sandia National Laboratory. Despite this, there has been little industrial growth in Albuquerque proper, as land cost makes it cheaper to grow outside city limits.

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Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources // Flickr

#9. Sheboygan, WI

- Population in 2018: 48,195 (+1.30% 10-year change)
- 2018 violent crime arrests per 1,000 people: 3.8 (+82.48% 10-year change)
- 2018 rape arrests per 1,000 people: 0.6 (+48.08% 10-year change)
- 2018 aggravated assault arrests per 1,000 people: 3.0 (+182.61% 10-year change)
- 2018 larceny-theft arrests per 1,000 people: 14.8 (-54.14% 10-year change)

A suburb of Milwaukee, Sheboygan is primarily a cheese- and bratwurst-manufacturing city. The city is also an industrial hub producing auto parts, furniture, and household equipment. Sheboygan has an unemployment rate of 2.7%, compared to the national average in August 2019 of 3.7%. Sheboygan’s economic growth is outpacing that of Wisconsin, driving the city’s population increase.

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alpenart // Shutterstock

#8. St. George, UT

- Population in 2018: 86,202 (+14.34% 10-year change)
- 2018 violent crime arrests per 1,000 people: 2.3 (+86.32% 10-year change)
- 2018 rape arrests per 1,000 people: 0.6 (+222.92% 10-year change)
- 2018 aggravated assault arrests per 1,000 people: 1.5 (+66.97% 10-year change)
- 2018 larceny-theft arrests per 1,000 people: 12.2 (-19.73% 10-year change)

Located in the tri-state junction of Utah, Arizona, and Nevada, St. George is located in the Mojave Desert and is the largest city in the state not part of the Wasatch Front. Located in Washington County, the fastest-growing county in Utah, St. George is one of the fastest-growing communities in the nation.

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TierneyMJ // Shutterstock

#7. Santa Monica, CA

- Population in 2018: 92,674 (+5.27% 10-year change)
- 2018 violent crime arrests per 1,000 people: 8.6 (+92.65% 10-year change)
- 2018 rape arrests per 1,000 people: 0.6 (+307.13% 10-year change)
- 2018 aggravated assault arrests per 1,000 people: 4.9 (+100.65% 10-year change)
- 2018 larceny-theft arrests per 1,000 people: 41.4 (+41.32% 10-year change)

A beachfront community in Los Angeles County, Santa Monica is known for being a highly affluent resort town. Local police have attributed the rise in crime to mid-decade changes to California state law around reduced sentencing and expanded parole.

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WillWight // Shutterstock

#6. Michigan City, IN

- Population in 2018: 30,999 (-4.19% 10-year change)
- 2018 violent crime arrests per 1,000 people: 7.4 (+98.40% 10-year change)
- 2018 rape arrests per 1,000 people: 0.4 (+4.37% 10-year change)
- 2018 aggravated assault arrests per 1,000 people: 5.3 (+264.20% 10-year change)
- 2018 larceny-theft arrests per 1,000 people: 34.8 (-10.47% 10-year change)

A suburb of Chicago, Michigan City is located on the shore of Lake Michigan. The home of Indiana’s largest riverboat casino, the Blue Chip Casino, Michigan City also hosts Indiana State Prison. One in four city residents are impoverished; the 2017 median income is $38,631.

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Kamil Zelezik // Shutterstock

#5. Palm Desert, CA

- Population in 2018: 53,567 (+3.75% 10-year change)
- 2018 violent crime arrests per 1,000 people: 1.7 (+99.34% 10-year change)
- 2018 rape arrests per 1,000 people: 0.1 (+15.66% 10-year change)
- 2018 aggravated assault arrests per 1,000 people: 1.2 (+671.07% 10-year change)
- 2018 larceny-theft arrests per 1,000 people: 28.6 (+32.38% 10-year change)

Palm Desert is a suburb of Palm Springs, located about 121 miles northeast of San Diego. A hotspot for “snowbirds” who assume part-time residency in the city from cold-weather locales, the city has seen consistent population growth as many are attracted with the low property cost and the warm weather.

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GoodFreePhotos

#4. Kokomo, IN

- Population in 2018: 57,804 (+26.87% 10-year change)
- 2018 violent crime arrests per 1,000 people: 6.3 (+106.41% 10-year change)
- 2018 rape arrests per 1,000 people: 0.7 (+74.24% 10-year change)
- 2018 aggravated assault arrests per 1,000 people: 4.3 (+150.61% 10-year change)
- 2018 larceny-theft arrests per 1,000 people: 17.9 (-58.23% 10-year change)

Indiana’s position between the Chicago, Detroit, and Louisville metropolitan areas and the recent population growth help to explain the state’s cities making repeat appearances on this list. In 2012, Kokomo annexed its neighbors Alto and Indian Heights, greatly increasing the city’s population. One-fifth of the city’s population is impoverished, with Kokomo having a seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate of 4.1%.

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Ron Reiring // Flickr

#3. Billings, MT

- Population in 2018: 110,397 (+4.71% 10-year change)
- 2018 violent crime arrests per 1,000 people: 5.4 (+120.49% 10-year change)
- 2018 rape arrests per 1,000 people: 0.5 (+84.17% 10-year change)
- 2018 aggravated assault arrests per 1,000 people: 3.9 (+158.69% 10-year change)
- 2018 larceny-theft arrests per 1,000 people: 34.4 (+0.92% 10-year change)

Billings is Montana’s largest city. The center of a trading area that includes parts of Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, and much of Montana, Billings is the economic core of a vast geographic region. The city sits on major oil and coal fields, contributing to the fact that the city's low poverty rate of 11%.

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GTD7 // Shutterstock

#2. Gulfport, MS

- Population in 2018: 72,402 (+3.54% 10-year change)
- 2018 violent crime arrests per 1,000 people: 5.3 (+150.85% 10-year change)
- 2018 rape arrests per 1,000 people: 0.4 (+39.50% 10-year change)
- 2018 aggravated assault arrests per 1,000 people: 3.7 (+627.03% 10-year change)
- 2018 larceny-theft arrests per 1,000 people: 39.3 (+7.84% 10-year change)

Mississippi, per capita, is the poorest state in the Union. Typically, however, the Gulf Region of the state is more affluent than the northern parts of the state, particularly the Mississippi Delta region. Gulfport is the second-largest city in Mississippi, following Jackson. While the city took a dip in population following Hurricane Katrina, the city has largely recouped to pre-storm population levels. However, with a poverty level of 24.9%, the city has yet to find its economic footing.

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David Chesek // Wikimedia Commons

#1. Scranton, PA

- Population in 2018: 77,827 (+8.33% 10-year change)
- 2018 violent crime arrests per 1,000 people: 10.4 (+163.61% 10-year change)
- 2018 rape arrests per 1,000 people: 0.6 (+13.41% 10-year change)
- 2018 aggravated assault arrests per 1,000 people: 9.0 (+364.19% 10-year change)
- 2018 larceny-theft arrests per 1,000 people: 13.9 (-45.70% 10-year change)

The Northeastern Pennsylvania city of Scranton today is known for being the birthplace of current presidential candidate Joe Biden and as the setting of the NBC sitcom “The Office.” A Rust Belt city, Scranton came close to bankruptcy in 2012. There is a move, however, to bring the city back by drawing in young professionals attracted to Scranton’s historical significance and low cost of living.

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