We all want the finer things in life. Love, comfort and safety are at the top of everyone’s list. For a lot of people who live in the fine state of North Carolina, safety isn’t a problem, but we don’t live in the safest state, either. North Carolina is somewhere in the middle.
The purpose of this post is to determine where the safest places to live are in the Tar Heel State. Those cities where crime is usually something you hear about on Facebook, but not in your local paper.
After analyzing 69 cities in North Carolina with a population of more than 10,000, we came up with this list as the safest cities here:
Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and how your town ranked.
How we calculated the safest cities in North Carolina
While there are surveys and public polls on what cities in a state are the safest, we didn’t want to rely on speculation and opinion. Instead, we looked at the hard numbers from the FBI’s last three years of reporting. Specifically, we analyzed the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report which summarizes the number of property crimes and violent crimes in each city per year. We used three criteria:
- Violent crimes (murders, assaults, rapes, armed robberies)
- Property crimes (thefts, burglaries, motor vehicle thefts)
- The chances a resident has of being the victim of a crime
We only looked at cities that have populations of more than 10,000 people as of 2013, which is the last year the report was available. This left us with a total of 69 cities in North Carolina to rank.
Finally, we made 2013 factor more heavily than 2012, since more recent crimes are a bigger determining factor in how dangerous a place is. You can see our overall ranking at the bottom of the post.
In the end, we get a result based on the number of crimes per city, divided by the number of residents. For example, in 2013, the year the last report was available, there were a total of 175,367 crimes committed in the state of North Carolina, of which only 9% were considered violent crimes. That means 1 in 56 people in the state was the victim of some type of crime.
The safest city, based on population, is Pinehurst. The most dangerous? Lumberton, where residents had a 1 in 7 chance of being the victim of a property crime.
We must note that this report is not an analysis of the effectiveness of local police departments, nor does it reflect the fact that people from out of town may come into a community and cause a crime. It simply looks at where crimes occurred most frequently, based on a city’s population.
Violent crime rank: 3rd best
Property crime rank: 3rd best
The little Village of Pinehurst, northwest of Fayetteville, is, statistically, the safest city in the state of North Carolina, and by quite a large margin.
There were only 8 violent crimes here in 2013, and only 125 total property crimes in Pinehurst. To put that into perspective, in Lumberton (population 21,928), there were 383 violent crimes and more than 3,000 property crimes.
When comparing the two, it’s jaw-dropping how much different the crime rates are. Pinehurst is far and away the safest place you can live in the state.
2. Holly Springs
Violent crime rank: 5th best
Property crime rank: 4th best
Holly Springs is one of several cities in the greater Raleigh area that are considered very safe.
There were only a total of 318 property crimes here in 2013, meaning residents had a 1 in 86 chance of being the victim of a theft or robbery. However, after a dip in 2012, crime ticked back up a bit two years ago.
Additionally, all of the violent crimes were either aggravated assaults or robberies. Not rapes or murders.
Violent crime rank: 4th best
Property crime rank: 6th best
Another city in the greater Raleigh area, the town of Cary is by far the largest city on our list, meaning it’s especially safe. There was a murder in 2013, but of the violent crimes here, 90% of them were related to assault or armed robbery.
Residents in Cary have a 1 in 68 chance of being the victim of some type of crime. In our most dangerous cities, residents have a 1 in 7 chance of being victimized by a crime.
So Cary is pretty safe.
Violent crime rank: 7th best
Property crime rank: 2nd best
The little town of Davidson, a short drive north of Charlotte, saw only 11 violent crimes in 2013, all of which were some type of aggravated assault or armed robbery. Additionally, there were only 90 total property crimes that year, which is exceptionally low. And most of those were property thefts such as laptops or cell phones.
Violent crime rank: 2nd best
Property crime rank: 8th best
For a population of just over 21,000, the town of Morrisville saw only 12 total violent crimes in the last reporting year. That’s outstanding, considering that 7 of those were armed robberies. You can sleep pretty tight if you live here.
Morrisville is located in the greater Raleigh area. Are we seeing a pattern here?
Violent crime rank: 6th best
Property crime rank: 5th best
Another Raleigh suburb, the town of Apex is considered a very safe place to live. While violent crimes ticked up since 2011, residents had only a 1 in 77 chance of being the victim of some type of theft, and 85% of those were a minor property crime.
Additionally, nearly all of the violent crimes in Apex were an aggravated assault (24 total).
Violent crime rank: 8th best
Property crime rank: 6th best
The town of Stallings, a tiny Charlotte suburb, is a very safe place to live and raise kids. While crime ticked up a tiny bit in 2013, overall, it’s a place you can afford to let your guard down a bit.
Only 1 in 1,000 residents was the victim of a violent crime in 2013, and nearly all of those was an aggravated assault. Additionally, residents in Stallings had only a 1 in 67 chance of having something stolen from them in 2013.
Violent crime rank: 9th best
Property crime rank: 11th best
Huntersville, a Charlotte suburb, saw crime plummet between 2012 and 2013. Residents here have a 1 in 1,000 chance of being attacked or robbed at gunpoint, which is statistically very low. And when you consider that there were only 940 property crimes in a city of more than 50,000 people, this is a place you can put at the top of your list if you’re considering a relocation to the Charlotte area.
Violent crime rank: 14th best
Property crime rank: 10th best
Another Charlotte suburb, Waxhaw is by far the smallest city towards the top of our safest places in North Carolina rankings.
Crime has gone down tremendously here, and at this point, residents had a 1 in 900 chance of being the victim of an armed robbery or assault. There were only 161 reports of a property crime in Waxhaw, too.
10. Wake Forest
Violent crime rank: 10th best
Property crime rank: 15th best
Most people probably aren’t surprised to see the town of Wake Forest round out the list of safest places in North Carolina list. While violent crimes here are very low, statistically (and dropping), there is a bit of an uptick in the number of property crimes here.
However, overall, Wake Forest is very, very safe. If you live there, you probably know that already.
There You Have It
If it wasn’t apparent, according to the FBI, if you live in either a Raleigh or Charlotte suburb, you have a much lower chance of being victimized by a criminal. Hopefully, we see the cities that are making strides to improve their overall crime rates continue that trend.
If you’re curious enough, here are the most dangerous places to live in North Carolina, according to FBI reporting. You can see our complete dangerous cities in North Carolina story here.
- Lumberton (Pop. 21,828)
- Henderson (Pop. 15,309)
- Kinston (Pop. 21,619)
- Laurinburg (Pop. 15,740)
- Statesville (Pop. 25,199)
- Goldsboro (Pop. 37,230)