As the oldest state in the country, one would expect Delaware to have resolved its issues over time. However, that is not the case. The First State has its fair share of dangerous cities.
With a population of close to a million in a state that can be crossed in less than an hour from Laurel to Rehoboth Beach, it’s inevitable that problems would arise, right? Indeed. RoadSnacks has compiled a list of the most dangerous places in Delaware for 2022 to shed light on these issues.
To create this list, the numbers were consulted. Data from the FBI’s latest crime report on violent and property crime statistics was analyzed for 20 cities with over 2,000 residents. The findings revealed that Delaware’s crime rates are even more alarming than those of its most dangerous city. While Wilmington and Dover, the state’s two largest cities, do contribute to the concentration of problems, the state has managed to distribute its issues fairly evenly.
Although Delaware may not be among the top ten most dangerous states in the country, there is still work to be done in its most dangerous places. Solutions such as increased police presence, security cameras, and drug programs may be necessary, but the exact measures are uncertain. One thing that is certain, however, is that individuals should consult our list of Delaware’s most dangerous places before making any life-changing decisions.
To discover which cities made the list, take a look below:
The Most Riskiest Cities
Producing this list serves the purpose of assisting individuals in navigating these dangerous cities and making informed decisions about where to call home.
Being second in Delaware for rape and the highest for total crime isn’t something that Seaford would brag about. However, its upward shift from the second to the first position in safety rankings from 2021 to 2022 suggests a downward trend in crime rates, possibly leading to a safer future. Despite the crime, Seaford’s historical charm, embodied by the Seaford Museum and the scenic Nanticoke River, provides a positive counterbalance.
- Population: 8,145
- Previous Year’s Ranking: 2 (Improvement of 1)
- Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,080 (Second most dangerous)
- Property Crimes Per 100k: 5,426 (Second most dangerous)
The location of Wilmington, situated between New York and Washington, D.C., attracts many, but the high crime rates might cause second thoughts. Though not the most dangerous, it leads in both violent and property crimes. Wilmington’s population of 70,100 makes it the largest city in the state and also the deadliest, with 31 recorded murders in 2020. Encouragingly, its position improved from fourth most dangerous in 2021.
- Population: 70,100
- Previous Year’s Ranking: 4 (Improvement of 2)
- Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,590 (Most dangerous)
- Property Crimes Per 100k: 3,706 (Seventh most dangerous)
Laurel’s small-town allure hides its high crime rates, significantly above the national average. It holds the first position for burglaries in the state, suggesting that investing in additional home security might be wise. Despite the crime, you can enjoy the local attractions like Trap Pond, a popular spot for hiking, bird-watching, and fishing.
- Population: 4,431
- Previous Year’s Ranking: 1 (Drop of 2)
- Violent Crimes Per 100k: 880 (Third most dangerous)
- Property Crimes Per 100k: 3,972 (Sixth most dangerous)
Previously ranked as the sixth most dangerous city in Delaware, has seen an increase in crime. Although there were no reported robberies or homicides in 2020, the town experienced a rise in criminal activity. With a population of 4,613, Millsboro had a total of 35 violent crimes, out of which four were rapes, ranking it as the third highest for that offense in the state. When it comes to property crime, Millsboro had a similar number of incidents as Laurel, with both towns having nearly identical population sizes
- Population: 4,613
- Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 2)
- Violent Crimes Per 100k: 758 (Fifth most dangerous)
- Property Crimes Per 100k: 4,053 (Fourth most dangerous)
The state’s capital, is heading in the wrong direction in terms of safety. It was formerly the third most dangerous city in Delaware but is now in fifth place. The change can be attributed in part to a problem with property crime. Being the second largest city on this list, Dover seems to have a significant population of individuals involved in arson incidents.
In 2020, more arson cases occurred in this community than in any other city included in this ranking. Safety concerns extend to being out and about in Dover, as 1,412 people fell victim to larceny that year, discovering possessions like phones or wallets missing, even while visiting sights such as the Dover International Speedway.
- Population: 38,428
- Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 2)
- Violent Crimes Per 100k: 856 (Fourth most dangerous)
- Property Crimes Per 100k: 4,030 (Fifth most dangerous)
A mid-sized city in Kent and Sussex counties, made it onto this list due to its high property crime rate. Ranking third for property crime in Delaware, Milford saw 446 cases of larceny, 36 burglaries, and 12 car thefts in 2020. The area also experienced 78 violent crimes. Despite these challenges, residents can find respite in visiting Milford’s DuPont Nature Center or Abbott’s Mill Nature Center.
- Population: 11,994
- Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 1)
- Violent Crimes Per 100k: 650 (Eighth most dangerous)
- Property Crimes Per 100k: 4,118 (Third most dangerous)
If you venture southwest from Delaware’s capital city of Dover along Highway 13, you will pass through Camden. The reasons for doing so might be unclear since the beaches are in the opposite direction. However, perhaps you are interested in exploring lesser-visited parts of Maryland and Virginia.
Regardless of your motive, exercise caution if you decide to stop for gas in Camden, as the town has experienced its share of crime issues. In fact, it is ranked as the seventh most dangerous community in Delaware. While violent crime is not a major problem here, it is advisable to keep a watchful eye on your belongings. Camden holds the undesirable distinction of having the highest rate of property crimes in the state.
- Population: 3,562
- Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 4)
- Violent Crimes Per 100k: 308 (12th most dangerous)
- Property Crimes Per 100k: 5,867 (Most dangerous)
Georgetown has made progress since 2021 but still occupies the eighth spot on the list of most dangerous cities in Delaware. As the seat of Sussex County, there is still work to be done in curbing violent crime.
Interestingly, Georgetown hosts an annual event called Return Day, which symbolizes reconciling differences. However, outside of this event, residents and visitors seem to engage in conflicts throughout the year. In 2022, there were 39 aggravated assaults reported in Georgetown.
If you manage to avoid violence, unfortunately, your belongings may not fare much better. The area ranks seventh in Delaware for burglary rates.
- Population: 7,698
- Rank Last Year: 8 (No Change)
- Violent Crimes Per 100k: 701 (Sixth most dangerous)
- Property Crimes Per 100k: 3,507 (Eighth most dangerous)
In Harrington, your personal safety may be at risk, quite literally. This city, with a population of under 10,000, had reported homicides in 2020, making it the only place on this list in its size category with such incidents. Alarmingly, Harrington ranks 13th highest in the state for murder rates.
Violent crime, in general, is a concern in this area, placing it seventh highest in Delaware. The chances of falling victim to violent crime here are approximately one in 145. If you are unfazed by those odds, you might find some enjoyment in visiting the local casino.
For those who can overlook its imperfections and call Harrington home, there is some positive news. Among the cities on this list, Harrington has one of the lower rates of burglaries.
- Population: 3,646
- Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 2)
- Violent Crimes Per 100k: 685 (Seventh most dangerous)
- Property Crimes Per 100k: 2,523 (11th most dangerous)
Welcome to Smyrna, Delaware. However, if you had your choice, Smyrna in Turkey might offer a more appealing location. The Turkish coastal city boasts breathtaking views of the Aegean Sea and the remnants of a magnificent ancient Greek city that played a significant role in ancient Greek culture. Unfortunately, the Delaware version of Smyrna lacks such historic grandeur. Additionally, the city’s crime rate is a factor to consider.
In Smyrna, Delaware, there were 15 car thefts reported in a population of just 12,011 people. This ranks as the seventh highest car theft rate in the state.
- Population: 12,011
- Rank Last Year: 12 (Up 2)
- Violent Crimes Per 100k: 407 (Tenth most dangerous)
- Property Crimes Per 100k: 2,014 (12th most dangerous)
Our methodology for determining the most dangerous cities in Delaware for 2022 involved analyzing the latest available data from the FBI’s 2020 Crime In The United States Report. Please note that the results are based on the 2020 data, and we will update the rankings when the new data becomes available in September 2022.
Here are the criteria we used for the analysis:
- Violent Crimes Per Capita: We calculated the number of violent crimes (such as murder, rape, robbery, and assault) per capita for each city.
- Property Crimes Per Capita: We determined the number of property crimes (including burglary, theft, and motor vehicle theft) per capita for each city.
To ensure a fair comparison, we only considered cities in Delaware with a population of over 2,000. This resulted in a total of 20 cities being included in the analysis.
We then ranked each city from 1 to 20 based on the two criteria, with a rank of 1 indicating the highest level of danger for that specific criterion.
To determine the overall “Dangerous Index” for each city, we calculated the average of their rankings for violent crimes and property crimes.
Finally, we ranked all the cities based on their “Dangerous Index,” with the lowest index indicating the most dangerous city in Delaware. In case of any ties, preference was given to the smaller city.
For more detailed information, you can download the data used in our analysis.
Please note that these rankings reflect the situation based on the 2020 data, and conditions may have changed since then.