10 Most Dangerous Cities in Kentucky (2023)
Note: This article’s statistics come from third-party sources and do not represent the opinions of this website.
Overall, Kentucky boasts lower-than-average crime rates. It sees about half the crime rate of neighboring states and has 1.5 fewer violent crime incidents than the rest of the country’s total. There are about 3.6 violent crimes per 1,000 people1 in the USA. Conversely, Kentucky only sees about 2.2 per 1,000. However, when violent crime occurs, aggravated assault is the most common. Murder is quite rare, especially in safer cities.
With that said, that doesn’t mean that all cities are safe. In fact, quite a few cities are on the more dangerous side and should be avoided. In this article, we’ll discuss Kentucky’s 10 most dangerous cities.
The 10 Most Dangerous Cities in Kentucky
|Property Crime Rate in 2019:||38.9|
|Violent Crime Rate in 2019:||6.9|
Out of all the cities in Kentucky, Louisville has the highest violent crime rate at 6.9. This rate is over double the average for the state. However, higher crime rates are expected in cities since their populations are larger. Poverty in cities tends to be higher, which causes more crime overall. When you pack people together, higher crime rates are common.
According to Neighborhood Scout, Louisville is only in the fourth percentile regarding safety. In other words, it’s only safer than 4% of other cities in the country. (Neighborhood Scout) Property crimes are also higher than the national average and the average in the state. In fact, it is almost double the state average and national average. Your chance of being involved in a property crime is only 1 in 27 in Louisville.
|Property Crime Rate in 2019:||44|
|Violent Crime Rate in 2019:||4.1|
Compared to Louisville, Mayfield is a pretty safe place. However, it is still the second most dangerous city in Kentucky, with a violent crime rate of 4.1. That is only slightly higher than the national average, which is 3.6. However, it is only in the fifth percentile nationally, meaning that it is only safer than 5% of US areas. (Neighborhood Scout)
Mayfield is also one of the most populated areas in Kentucky, which is likely why there is more crime than in other places. Luckily, most violent crimes seem to be assault, with a rate of 2.7. There are a couple of murders each year on average, however.
|Property Crime Rate in 2019:||55.5|
|Violent Crime Rate in 2019:||2.7|
We had a hard time figuring out whether to put Pikeville or Mayfield at number #2. In the end, we settled on placing Pikeville in the #3 position because its violent crime rate is lower. Luckily, most of the crime is located in a very small area of Pikeville, which brings the whole city’s rates down. There are some safe places to live, but there are hazardous areas as well.
Pikeville is about average compared to most US cities based on violent crime alone. Murder is very rare, though assaults rest at one for every 1,000 people.
|Property Crime Rate in 2019:||52.6|
|Violent Crime Rate in 2019:||2.9|
Once again, we had difficulty figuring out where to place Paducah, as it has an average violent crime rate but an extremely high property crime rate. Therefore, you’re more likely to be involved in a property crime at some point if you live there for a few years. However, the murder rate is quite low.
This city also has a high poverty rate of 17.2%, which is higher than the US average. Likely, this is one reason why property crime rates are so high. (Forbes)
|Property Crime Rate in 2019:||29.1|
|Violent Crime Rate in 2019:||4.7|
Covington is another special case. It’s the opposite of Paducah; the violent crime rate is very high, but the property crime rate is very low. Therefore, while you are more likely to be involved in an assault, you are less likely to be involved in a theft.
With that said, this suburb is densely packed, which may be why the crime rate is higher. Most residents in the area rent their own homes. However, housing is relatively cheap (while rent prices are surprisingly high).
The city is known for its homelessness problem, which may also be why crimes are so high. Covington has a higher poverty rate than other areas and is one of the social service epicenters in Kentucky. (Cincinnati)
6. Oak Grove
|Property Crime Rate in 2019:||42.4|
|Violent Crime Rate in 2019:||3.3|
Oak Grove has an equally high violent crime and property crime rates. However, it’s not necessarily as unsafe as some of the other cities on this list (looking at you, Louisville). While the crime rate is high, there are a few reasons people choose to move to this area. The education system is often rated higher than the national average, most schools have a decent rating, according to USA News, with a low teacher-to-student ratio. (USA News)
|Property Crime Rate in 2019:||33.5|
|Violent Crime Rate in 2019:||3.4|
Shively has a relatively low property crime rate, but their violent crime rate is a bit high, which is why it ended up on this list. The property and crime rates are higher than the national average, making it more dangerous than the average city. Of course, some places are safer than others, but the whole town seems prone to crime.
There aren’t many safe neighborhoods like there are in most towns, for instance. With that said, if you live considerably far from town, there are safer places where you can stay. For instance, the Southeastern part of Shively only has about eight crimes per year, which is much lower than the Northeastern part, which has 82 per year. (Crime Grade)
8. Bowling Green
|Property Crime Rate in 2019:||46.7|
|Violent Crime Rate in 2019:||2.9|
Bowling Green does not have as high a violent crime rate as other locations on this list. However, it has more property crimes, which can be a problem for residents that live there. This town is generally known for having an urban feel and a higher population but without the extremely high crime rate of most cities.
The poverty rate is high compared to other cities in the state, which likely explains why the property crime rate is so high. Generally, you can expect the property crime rate to increase as the poverty rate increases.
|Property Crime Rate in 2019:||44.2|
|Violent Crime Rate in 2019:||2.4|
Similar to Bowling Green, Winchester has a high rate of property crimes. However, the violent crime rate is much lower. While the poverty rate isn’t terribly low, there isn’t much to do in Winchester. Most residents drive to Lexington for entertainment, and there are very few restaurants or other businesses.
Related Read: 10 Most Dangerous Cities In Indiana
|Property Crime Rate in 2019:||36.6|
|Violent Crime Rate in 2019:||2.9|
Ashland only has around 20,000 residents, which makes it relatively small. Despite its smaller size, violent crime rates are quite high. Property rates are also higher, likely because of the higher poverty rate in the area. Furthermore, the population has been declining over the last few years, leading to an increase in poverty.
Is Kentucky a High Crime State?
Generally speaking, Kentucky has a lower crime rate than most of the USA. The violent crime rate is only 2.2 per 1,000 residents, which is lower than the national average. Furthermore, property crime rates are also lower than the national average of 19 per 1,000 people.
With that said, concerns about crime seem to be higher than the national average, according to Safewise. Generally, concern does seem to be spread evenly across the board, with people being most concerned about property crime and package theft.
Despite the concerns, many of the state’s safest cities had a violent crime rate of 0, which means that no violent crimes have been reported in the last year or so. The state also sees less than 1% of the nation’s violent crime, an extremely low statistic. Based on that information, even Kentucky’s most dangerous cities aren’t really that dangerous. Crime rates are holding steady and have been steady for the last few years.
How to Stay Safe in Kentucky
Typically, staying safe in Kentucky isn’t a huge problem, as the crime rates are much lower overall than in the rest of the nation. However, there are a few dangerous parts of Kentucky, such as Louisville. Generally, we recommend avoiding hazardous areas if you can.
Even if you move to one of the cities on this list, there is usually a safer area you can move into (though these neighborhoods can be more expensive). Generally speaking, you do not want to stay in higher crime areas, as the crime rate can be much higher than the national average.
Overall, Kentucky tends to be a rather safe place, especially if you stay out of the most high-crime areas.
Related Read: 10 Safest Cities in Kentucky (With Pictures)
Kentucky’s cities are safer than many in the country, but Louisville stands out as the state’s most dangerous city. However, even Louisville is only unsafe in certain places. Therefore, if crime seems to be a problem for you, Kentucky seems to be a rather safe place to move to.
Some of the most dangerous cities are slightly more dangerous than the national average. Many of the safest cities have no violent crime and are ideal if you’re concerned about high crime rates.
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