Most Dangerous Cities in California 2023 – Based on FBI

California dangerous cities

California is known for its beautiful landscapes, sunny beaches, and booming tech industry. However, it also has its fair share of dangerous cities with high crime rates. This article will provide an in-depth analysis of the most dangerous cities in California, using information from two reputable sources: Spolin Law and Property Club.

By understanding the factors contributing to these cities’ high crime rates, we can work towards creating safer communities for all Californians.

Rank City Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents)
1 Emeryville 165.8
2 Oakland 127.0
3 Commerce 119.5
4 Red Bluff 115.2
5 Eureka 112.7
6 San Bernardino 110.8
7 Barstow 107.3
8 Signal Hill 104.2
9 Marysville 102.8
10 Vallejo 99.4
11 Stockton 98.7
12 Modesto 95.3
13 Salinas 92.1
14 Antioch 89.0
15 Richmond 86.6
16 Merced 85.5
17 Fresno 83.1
18 Sacramento 82.7
19 Inglewood 81.6
20 Bakersfield 80.9

1. Emeryville

High Crime Rates in a Small City

Emeryville, a small city in Alameda County with a population of just over 10,000, tops the list of the most dangerous cities in California. The city has an alarming property crime rate of 165.71 per 1,000 residents and a violent crime rate of 11.24 per 1,000 residents.

These high crime rates are partially attributed to the city’s dense population and commercial nature, with several retail and business centers in the area.

2. Oakland

Continuing Struggles with Crime

Oakland, the eighth-largest city in California, has long been plagued with crime. The city has a violent crime rate of 12.99 per 1,000 residents and a property crime rate of 52.49 per 1,000 residents.

In recent years, Oakland has implemented several strategies to reduce crime, such as community policing and targeted interventions for high-risk youth. While these efforts have made some progress, the city still struggles with high crime rates.

3. Redding

Impact of Homelessness on Crime

Redding, a city located in Northern California, has seen a significant increase in crime in recent years. With a violent crime rate of 9.16 per 1,000 residents and a property crime rate of 70.02 per 1,000 residents, Redding is one of California’s most dangerous cities.

Experts attribute the high crime rates in Redding to the city’s growing homeless population, as well as substance abuse and mental health issues among residents.

4. San Bernardino

San Bernardino

Economic Struggles and Crime

San Bernardino, a city in Southern California, has a violent crime rate of 11.05 per 1,000 residents and a property crime rate of 45.99 per 1,000 residents.

In 2012, San Bernardino filed for bankruptcy, and the economic challenges that followed have contributed to the city’s high crime rates.

A lack of resources for law enforcement and social services has made it difficult for the city to address the root causes of crime.

5. Stockton

Stockton California

A City Trying to Recover from Bankruptcy

Stockton, another city that filed for bankruptcy in 2012, has a violent crime rate of 9.71 per 1,000 residents and a property crime rate of 46.39 per 1,000 residents. The city has faced economic challenges in the wake of the bankruptcy, which has led to a lack of resources for policing and social services.

However, Stockton has implemented innovative solutions to address crime, such as the Advance Peace program, which aims to reduce gun violence among high-risk individuals.

Addressing the Root Causes of Crime

While crime rates in these cities are concerning, it is crucial to understand and address the root causes of crime to create safer communities. Factors such as poverty, lack of education, substance abuse, and mental health issues all contribute to high crime rates.

By focusing on these issues and implementing targeted interventions, cities can begin to see a reduction in crime and an improvement in overall quality of life.

Is Emeryville dangerous? recently released its annual report on “The 30 Most Dangerous Cities in America,” ranking Emeryville as the #1 most dangerous city in the country, up from the third position last year. However, Emeryville Chief of Police Jennifer Tejada questions the validity of this ranking, suggesting that the numbers may be misleading.

SafeWise used 2016 FBI crime data for cities with a population of 10,000 or more to compile its report. Although Emeryville’s census population is close to 12,000 residents, Tejada notes that the city’s “service population” is a more accurate reflection of the actual number of people in the area at any given time. This number can swell to approximately 35,000 during weekdays and likely even higher on weekends.

Emeryville’s “edge city” characteristics, such as its concentration of entertainment and shopping centers and convenient access to major highways, likely contributed to its high ranking on the list. Tejada highlights that the increase in violent crime is predominantly driven by robberies at shopping centers, most of which are shoplifts by force occurring in commercial rather than residential areas.

The influence of neighboring cities with inadequate police resources could also be a factor, as none of the cities in the SafeWise report were classified as major urban centers.

Interestingly, arrests in Emeryville decreased by 32% for adults and 43% for juveniles in 2016. Tejada explains that this is not due to a change in policing philosophy, but rather the result of staffing issues, such as vacancies and injuries. She also notes that violent crime is down 9% for the year, according to the most recent monthly report. Emeryville did not record a single homicide in 2016.

However, auto burglaries did experience a staggering increase of 91%. Multiple factors contribute to the city’s susceptibility to this crime of opportunity, including visitors who may be unaware of the importance of not leaving valuables in plain sight in their vehicles. The Emeryville Police Department has initiated outreach programs to local hotels, providing flyers to guests with theft prevention advice.

Criminals have become adept at exploiting modern technology, using Wi-Fi and Bluetooth signal-detecting devices to locate hidden electronics in cars. They are also increasingly targeting keyless entry systems. Low-tech techniques, such as using “Ninja Rocks” (fragments of porcelain from spark plugs) to shatter glass, are also employed.

In conclusion, the claim that Emeryville is the most dangerous city in America may be misleading due to the unique factors affecting its crime rate. A more nuanced understanding of the city’s crime situation is necessary before drawing definitive conclusions.

Investing in Education and Economic Development

Investing in education and economic development can have a significant impact on reducing crime rates. By providing quality education and job opportunities, communities can address the cycle of poverty and crime.

Cities can also encourage businesses to invest in economically disadvantaged areas, creating job opportunities and fostering community development.

Improving Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services

Addressing mental health and substance abuse issues is another critical component of reducing crime rates. By investing in mental health services and providing accessible drug treatment programs, cities can help individuals struggling with these issues find the support they need.

This, in turn, can lead to a decrease in crime related to drug addiction and mental health challenges.

Community Policing and Partnerships

Developing strong relationships between law enforcement and community members is essential in creating safer neighborhoods. Community policing efforts can help build trust between officers and residents, which can lead to increased cooperation in identifying and addressing crime. Additionally, community partnerships can help provide resources and support for individuals at risk of criminal activity.


What factors contribute to high crime rates in California cities?

Factors such as poverty, lack of education, substance abuse, mental health issues, and economic challenges contribute to high crime rates in California cities. Addressing these underlying issues can help reduce crime rates and create safer communities.

What can cities do to address high crime rates?

Cities can invest in education, economic development, mental health services, and substance abuse treatment programs to address the root causes of crime.

Additionally, cities can implement community policing strategies and form partnerships with community organizations to provide support for at-risk individuals.

Are there any successful programs or strategies that have been implemented to reduce crime in California cities?

Some successful programs include the Advance Peace program in Stockton, which aims to reduce gun violence among high-risk individuals, and community policing efforts in Oakland. These programs demonstrate that targeted interventions can have a positive impact on crime rates.

How can community members help reduce crime in their cities?

Community members can help reduce crime by reporting suspicious activity to law enforcement, participating in neighborhood watch programs, and engaging in community organizations that address the root causes of crime.

Additionally, community members can advocate for investments in education, economic development, and social services to help address the underlying issues contributing to high crime rates.

Is it possible for a city to overcome its high crime rate and become a safer place to live?

Yes, it is possible for a city to overcome its high crime rate and become a safer place to live. By addressing the root causes of crime and implementing targeted interventions, cities can work towards reducing crime rates and improving the overall quality of life for their residents.

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