North Carolina is a charming southern state known for its lavish Biltmore estate in Asheville, concentration of locally-owned craft breweries, beautiful coasts and a breathtaking portion of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
It’s also a relatively safe state according to the official FBI statistics on violent crime, falling right in the middle on the list. But like any state, there are cities and towns with more crime than others. And if you live in North Carolina, or plan on moving there, you may be wondering which areas are the most dangerous.
Here are the five most dangerous cities (with a population above 5,000) in North Carolina:
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Note: This list uses information and statistics from various studies and sources, including official FBI crime data and information from RoadSnacks.
Nestled between Wilmington and the South Carolina border, Whiteville is a town with history—one of its Post Offices has been operating since 1821, its county courthouse is on the National Register of Historic Places and it was home to a minor league baseball team called the “Tobs” in 1950.
Unfortunately, Whiteville also takes the top spot as North Carolina’s most dangerous city. The community scores low on jobs, housing and affordability, making it vulnerable to property crime (second highest in the state), so residents in Whiteville should be extra cautious with their homes, cars, and personal belongings.
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,461 (3rd most dangerous in NC)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 9,535 (2nd most dangerous in NC)
Originally called “Newtown” in the 18th century, Wadesboro was renamed in 1787 to honor Colonel Thomas Wade for his service in the American Revolutionary War. There’s another name Wadesboro would probably like to change: “second most dangerous city in North Carolina.”
It ranks most dangerous for violent crime in the state at nearly 2,000 violent crimes per 100,000 reported (even without a single murder). Property crime ranks much lower in Wadesboro (sixth highest in NC) so residents will be watching their backs more than their homes.
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,893 (Most dangerous in NC)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 6,426 (6th most dangerous in NC)
Williamston is home to some of the best horse shows and rodeos in North Carolina. Its annual “Carolina Country Stampede” attracts thousands every September with good food and even better entertainment.
But the stampede only brings temporary prosperity to Williamston. While neither its violent crime or property crime crack the top three, nearly one in five people live below the poverty line, with nearly 15 percent unemployed. Such a bleak situation is a recipe for extreme increases in crime. Especially with Williamston’s burglary rate which is fifth highest in the state.
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,265 (4th most dangerous in NC)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 6,670 (5th most dangerous in NC)
Henderson is named after the late Chief Justice to North Carolina’s Supreme Court, Leonard Henderson, and the town probably feels like it could use some more law and order.
Even though it’s fourth on the overall list, Henderson is known as the murder capital of North Carolina. Unfortunately, murder isn’t the only violent crime that thrives in Henderson. It ranks second overall for violent crime with shootings and assault rank well above the norm. That’s high for a town just 40 miles away from Durham, home to Duke University.
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,626 (2nd most dangerous in NC)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 5,563 (10th most dangerous in NC)
Pineville is the birthplace of President James K. Polk and the product of urban sprawl in the 20th century. Like Henderson, an outlier puts Pineville high on the list but in a much different way. It’s home to the most property crime in the state at 12,444 incidents per 100,000. If you live in Pineville, you have a 1 in 8 chance of having something stolen or damaged.
But Pineville’s unemployment and poverty are only 4.1 percent and 9.1 percent, respectively, so what gives? Perhaps criminals are coming into Pineville from neighboring towns to steal, but either way, it’s best you lock up your belongings to prevent theft—local or not.
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 748 (18th most dangerous in NC)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 12,444 (Most dangerous in NC)
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