House Grail is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

10 Most Dangerous Cities in Kentucky (2022)

Park Place, Covington, KY

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 seems about half the crime rate of neighboring states and has about 1.5 fewer violent crime incidents compared to the rest of the country’s total. (Specifically, 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 does occur, 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 look at exactly that.

divider 4

The 10 Most Dangerous Cities in Kentucky

1. Louisville

Louisville Skyline
Louisville Skyline, (Image Credit: Chris Watson, Wikimedia Commons CC 2.0 Generic )
Population: 675.50K
Property Crime Rate in 2019: 38.9
Violent Crime Rate in 2019: 6.9

Out of all the locations in Kentucky, Louisville has the highest violent crime rate at 6.9. This rate is over double the average for the state. Most of the safest cities have a crime rate of closer to 0, in fact.

However, higher crime rates are expected in cities, as more people are there. Poverty in cities tends to be higher, which causes more crime overall. When you pack people together, higher crime rates seem to be just what you get.

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 decently higher than the national average and the average in the state itself. 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.


2. Mayfield

Mayfield, KY (41538303805)
Mayfield, KY (41538303805), (Image Credit: Paul Sableman, Wikimedia Commons CC 2.0 Generic )
Population: 9.85K
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 so much more crime than in other places.

Luckily, most violent crimes seem to be assault, which has a rate of 2.7. There are a couple of murders each year on average, though.


3. Pikeville

Pikeville, Kentucky aerial view
Pikeville, Kentucky aerial view (Image Credit: Doc Searls via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.0)
Population: 6.59K
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. However, its violent crime rate is much higher for one reason or another.

Luckily, most of the crime is located in a very small area of Pikeville, which brings the whole city down. There are some decently safe places to live, but there are some pretty dangerous places 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 thousand people.


4. Paducah

Broadway - Paducah, Kentucky
Image Credit: Broadway – Paducah, Kentucky, Farragutful, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 4.0 International
Population: 24.83K
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 pretty likely to be involved in a property crime at some point if you live there for a few years. However, the murder rate itself is quite low.

This city also has a high poverty rate of 17.2%, higher than the USA average. Likely, this is one reason why property crime rates are so high – many families are affected by poverty. (Forbes)


5. Covington

Covington, Kentucky
Covington, Kentucky, (Image Credit: EEJCC, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 4.0 International )
Population: 40.35K
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 in the area rent their own home. However, housing in the area is decently cheap (while rent prices are surprisingly high).

The city is known for its homelessness problem, though, 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

March for Cancer supports survivors in Oak Grove, KY
March for Cancer supports survivors in Oak Grove, KY (Image Credit: Jennifer Andersson, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)
Population: 7.36K
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 rate. It just tends to be unsafe, overall, though not necessarily as unsafe as some of the other cities on this list (looking at you, Louisville).

While the crime rate is decently high, there are a few reasons why people choose to move to this area. Firstly, education 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)


7. Shively

City of Shively, Ky marker
City of Shively, Ky marker (Image Credit: The original uploader was Retired username at English Wikipedia, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.5)
Population: 15.85K
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 they ended up on this list. The property and crime rates are both 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 to be prone to crime.

There aren’t a few safe neighborhoods like there are in most towns, for instance. With that said, if you live considerably far from town, there are a few safer places where you can stay.

For instance, the very 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

Fountain Square Park, Bowling Green, Kentucky
Fountain Square Park, Bowling Green, Kentucky, (Image Credit: OPMaster, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 3.0 Unported )
Population: 69.63K
Property Crime Rate in 2019: 46.7
Violent Crime Rate in 2019: 2.9

Bowling Green does not have as high of a violent crime rate as other locations on this list. However, it does tend to have 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 quite high compared to other places, though, 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.


9. Winchester

Buildings — Winchester, Kentucky
Buildings — Winchester, Kentucky, (Image Credit: Christopher L. Riley, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 4.0 International )
Population: 18.61K
Property Crime Rate in 2019: 44.2
Violent Crime Rate in 2019: 2.4

Similar to Bowling Green, Winchester has a decently high property rate. However, the violent crime rate is much lower. While the poverty rate isn’t terribly low, there also isn’t much to do in Winchester. Most residents drive to Lexington for entertainment. There are very few restaurants or other entertainment businesses.

This is a fairly small town, though not as small as some other options out there.

Related Read: 10 Most Dangerous Cities In Indiana


10. Ashland

Amtrak Ashland, KY station
Amtrak Ashland, KY station, (Image Credit: Augiejv, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 3.0 Unported )
Population: 20.22K
Property Crime Rate in 2019: 36.6
Violent Crime Rate in 2019: 2.9

Ashland only has around 20,000 residents, which makes it decently small. Despite its smaller size, violent crime rates are quite high. Property rates are also higher, likely because of the higher poverty rates in the areas.

Furthermore, the population has been declining over the last few years, leading to an increase in poverty and crime in some cases. When there are fewer people to buy things, demand goes down and, with it, employment. The cost of living in the area is rather low, which helps keep crime from getting too high.

divider 4

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, lower than the national average. Furthermore, property crime rates are also lower than the national average at 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 more dangerous parts of Kentucky, such as Louisville. Generally, we recommend avoiding the less-safe 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)


Conclusion

Kentucky tends to be rather safe, with low crime rates in most places. Louisville is the only extremely unsafe location in the state, though even that city 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 only slightly more dangerous than the national average. Some of the safest cities have no violent crime at all, making them a very safe place if you’re seriously concerned with safety.

You might also be interested in: 10 Most Dangerous Cities In Massachusetts


Featured Image Credit: Park Place, Covington, KY, w_lemay, Wikimedia Commons CC0 1.0 Universal

Related posts

OUR categories

Project ideas

Hand & power tools

woodworking

Garden

Automotive