Florida is a complicated place – there’s Florida Man, Disney World, and beaches galore. All this tends to distract most people from the fact that Florida is the third most dangerous state in the U.S, according to violent crime statistics. As with anywhere, though, there are certain areas that suffer from more crime than others.
The 8 Most Dangerous Cities In Florida
1. Florida City
|Murder Rate:||32.8 per 100k people|
|Average Household Income:||$35,253|
|Poverty Rate:||4,750 (40%)|
|Violent Crimes:||2,619 per 100k people|
Leading our list is Florida City, a small suburb of Miami and with the Everglades at its backdoor. Calling itself the ‘Gateway to the Florida Keys,’ you’d think Florida City would be an idyllic paradise. Far from it.
Sporting a poverty rate four times the national average and a murder rate over six times the average, this isn’t the best spot for a vacation. As of 2020, only two cities in Alabama have a higher violent crime rate in all of the U.S.
If you must visit for any reason, it’s best to stick to the northwest parts of town, which are considered the safest. By contrast, the southwest area is where you’re most likely to be the victim of a violent crime. Property crime like theft is far more common than violent crime, however.
Unemployment in Florida City has maintained a steady rate of 14% over the past five years, over double the national average. Simply put, there are few opportunities for residents who live there, which tends to make crime rates rise.
|Murder Rate:||41.37 per 100k people|
|Average Household Income:||$38,242|
|Poverty Rate:||2,410 (37.8%)|
|Violent Crimes:||3,554 per 100k people|
Marianna is a bit of an oddity on this list in that it has such a low population. Nestled alongside I-10 west of Tallahassee, Marianna likes to call itself the ‘City of Southern Charm,’ and appears a mix of rural and suburban sensibilities.
For such a charming city, it has a high poverty rate nearly four times the national average and a murder rate over six times the average. In general, your chances of being a victim of crime in Marianna are 1 in 24. Of course, this varies based on where you go.
The crowded central neighborhoods of Marianna are the most dangerous, and the northeast areas of town the safest. Those estimates are based on averages of where crimes were committed in the city, so your mileage may vary.
3. Lake City
|Murder Rate:||16.5 per 100k people|
|Average Household Income:||$38,000|
|Poverty Rate:||2,484 (22.2%)|
|Violent Crimes:||1,326 per 100k people|
Lake City has the distinct honor of being the site of Florida’s largest Civil War battle and was originally named Alligator. Located right between Jacksonville and Tallahassee, Lake City seems like a good suburban area to get away from the city hustle and bustle.
Unfortunately, Lake City happens to have a violent crime rate three times the national average and is third in the state for violent crimes overall. Its murder rate is relatively low, but you still risk a 1 in 15 chance of being robbed. Generally speaking, most violent crime takes place in the eastern parts of the town.
Burglary and theft are several times the national average, too, so your belongings aren’t any safer than you are in Lake City.
|Murder Rate:||66.7 per 100k people|
|Average Household Income:||$21,523|
|Poverty Rate:||8,358 (50.7%)|
|Violent Crimes:||2,807 per 100k people|
Moving back to the Miami area at number four, we have the unique architecture of Opa-Locka. One of the city’s claims to fame is that it has one of the largest collections of Moorish Revival buildings in the U.S. You may have seen some of them in 2 Fast 2 Furious or Bad Boys II.
For all its architectural allure, in 2004, Opa-Locka had the highest violent crime rate in the entire country. It’s improved since then, but you still have a 1 in 48 chance of being a victim of violent crime.
Unfortunately, property crime is high too, at three times the national average and the sixth highest nationwide.
5. Lake Park
|Murder Rate:||23.1 per 100k people|
|Average Household Income:||$61,705|
|Poverty Rate:||1,320 (15.0%)|
|Violent Crimes:||991 per 100k people|
Lake Park was Florida’s first zoned municipality in Florida and is just a short drive from West Palm Beach. Although the proximity to the beach is attractive, Lake Park has more property crime per capita than any other city in the U.S.
Lake Park is one of the more well-to-do cities on this list, with a higher average household income and a lower poverty rate. If you didn’t know any better, you could look at the town and think it was a respectable place to settle down and raise a family.
Keep an eye on your wallet because you have a staggering 1 in 12 chance of being stolen from in Lake Park – the highest property crime rate in all of Florida.
The city doesn’t slouch in violent crime, either, with a murder rate in the top 10 nationwide. The state park and the western parts of the city are noted to be some of the hotspots for property crime, so beware if you stop by.
6. Panama City Beach
|Murder Rate:||15.1 per 100k people|
|Average Household Income:||$63,912|
|Poverty Rate:||595 (4.7%)|
|Violent Crimes:||1002.6 per 100k people|
Panama City Beach is by far the most picturesque entry on this list, with glittering white beaches and top-tier shopping. When many people think of spring break, they think of this tourist town and college kids flocking to the beaches.
Unfortunately, Panama City Beach has the highest incidence of rapes in the state and the fifth highest property crime rate. It probably doesn’t come as a surprise that most of this crime occurs during the spring and summer, too, when tourism is at its peak.
If you want to visit (and we wouldn’t blame you, it’s nice), consider booking your vacation during the offseason when temperatures and hotel prices alike are mild.
7. Daytona Beach
|Murder Rate:||18.6 per 100k people|
|Average Household Income:||$35,893|
|Poverty Rate:||15,700 (24.3%)|
|Violent Crimes:||1,137 per 100k people|
Yet another tourist hotspot, Daytona Beach is the famous home of the Daytona International Speedway, aka NASCAR Mecca. Racecars, beaches, and water parks, what more could you want? Well, a little less violent crime would be nice.
Daytona has the fourth highest violent crime rate in Florida. On average, two aggravated assaults happen every day, with a 1 in 88 chance of being attacked in general. The silver lining is that Daytona has a relatively low property crime rate.
|Murder Rate:||10.6 per 100k people|
|Average Household Income:||$38,892|
|Poverty Rate:||3,660 (20%)|
|Violent Crimes:||802.9 per 100k people|
Cocoa is located in Brevard County, only minutes away from the famed Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral, not to mention proximity to Cocoa Beach. No, Cocoa is not the same as the beach town. Unfortunately, it has much higher crime rates.
Cocoa has a violent crime rate over double the national average, and you have a 1 in 19 chance of being targeted for property crime too. Burglaries and larceny are the two major types of property crime in Cocoa, over 100% higher than the average.
If you’re still a little confused about the names, just remember: Cocoa Beach is dreamy, and Cocoa is dodgy.
Has Crime Gotten Better Or Worse In Florida?
Although there are always hotspots, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement claims crime has steadily declined over the past 50 years. However, this doesn’t include specific types of crime – violent crime slightly increased by 2.3% from 2020 to 2021, whereas property crime declined by over 14%.
It can be easy to turn on the news and see every zany crime committed in major Florida cities, but a large part of that is due to Florida’s ‘Sunshine Laws’ – in short, public records of crimes are transparently available to all citizens. Other states, by contrast, usually protect legal proceedings from public records to some degree.
So it’s not that more crime is happening, but we have greater access to information about it.
How To Stay Safe In Florida
Florida has numerous tourist destinations, and not all of them are safe, as this list indicates. When traveling in an unfamiliar area, you should take common-sense precautions to keep yourself as safe as possible.
Some tips to stay safe in Florida include:
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- Always travel with at least one other person, if at all possible. Traveling alone is one of the best ways to make yourself a target for criminals.
- If you’re enjoying the nightlife in one of Florida’s neon-drenched cities, like Ybor City or Miami, try to stick to well-lit areas inside and outside.
- Always park your car in a well-lit area. When coming back to it, check inside before getting in.
- Keep your car locked at all times, whether you’re in it or leaving it parked.
- Never pick up hitchhikers or roll down your windows for anyone waving you down.
- Don’t tell anyone where you’re staying.
- If anyone asks if you’re alone, always say you’re waiting for a friend or family member.
Florida is a great place to live and visit, but it has bad areas like any other place. As long as you take proper precautions and avoid crime hotspots, you can have a great time and avoid becoming a victim of criminals.
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- Florida Department of Law Enforcement
- Federal Bureau of Investigation
- Florida Attorney General
- City of North Miami Beach
Looking for more statistics on cities across the US? Check out:
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