Though located along the coast, North Carolina is also bordered by four other states, making the broader area a hub of activity from neighboring regions en route to the beach and other attractions.
In the far west, Asheville once housed the era’s richest family, the Vanderbilts.
Their home, the Biltmore, is often considered America’s castle and stands as one of the most popular tourist draws in the area.
Despite the many sights and experiences North Carolina offers, one might question its safety levels.
Join us as we take a tour through the state’s most dangerous cities.
10 Cities with the Highest Crime Rates in NC
|City||Population||Crime Rate||Chance of Becoming a Crime Victim||Violent Crimes (2020)||Property Crimes (2020)|
|Lumberton||19,025||132.30||1 in 27||20.18 per 1,000 people||122.21 per 1,000 people|
|Albemarle||16,628||6,588||1 in 16||156 (6 murders)||–|
|Reidsville||14,125||56.71||1 in 17||138 (6 murders)||47.25 per 1,000 people|
|Rockingham||9,031||5,556||–||66 (4 murders)||410|
|Gastonia||81,000||48.49||1 in 21||726 (9 murders)||3,173|
|Whiteville||5,000||–||1 in 6||17.2 per 1,000 people||107.33 per 1,000 people|
|Greensboro||298,263||4,513||1 in 23||2,713 (59 murders)||10,880|
|Fayetteville||–||–||1 in 100||2,065 (30 murders)||7,240|
|Henderson||15,000||20.12||1 in 50||303 (10 murders)||855|
|Durham||285,527||4,597||1 in 115||2,455 (36 murders)||Over 11,000|
- Population: 19,025
- Crime rate: 132.30 per 1,000 residents
- Chance of becoming a victim of a crime: 1 in 27
- Property crime rate: 122.21 per 1,000 people
- Violent crime rate: 20.18 per 1,000 people
Located in Robeson County, is widely recognized as the most dangerous city in North Carolina. With a population of 19,025, the city has a disproportionately high crime rate of 132.30 per 1,000 residents. This translates to a 1 in 27 chance of becoming a victim of a crime, making Lumberton 435% more dangerous than the state average. While property crimes are the most common, violent crime poses a significant problem. In 2021, the property crime rate stood at 122.21, while the violent crime rate was 20.18 per 1,000 people. The city’s high crime levels are largely attributed to drug activity in the area.
- Population: 16,628
- Crime rate: 6,588 per 100,000 people
- Chance of becoming a victim of a crime: 1 in 16
- Violent crime: 156
Albemarle, situated near the coast, is among the worst cities in North Carolina in terms of crime. With a population of 16,628, the city has a crime rate of 6,588 per 100,000 people, which is 149% higher than the state average. Residents of Albemarle face a 1 in 16 chance of becoming a crime victim. The city’s crime issues can be linked to factors such as poverty, lack of employment opportunities, and overall quality of life. In 2022, there were 156 violent crimes reported, including 6 murders, 17 robberies, and 121 assaults.
- Population: 14,125
- Crime rate: 56.71 per 1,000 people
- Chance of becoming a victim of a violent crime: 1 in 17
- Violent crimes: 138
- Property crime rate: 47.25 per 1,000 people
With a population of just 14,125, is another one of North Carolina’s most dangerous cities. The crime rate in Reidsville stands at 56.71 per 1,000 people, which is 124% higher than the state average. Residents face a 1 in 17 chance of becoming a victim of a violent crime. Property crimes are the primary concern in Reidsville, occurring at a rate of 47.25 per 1,000 people. In 2022, there were 138 reported violent crimes in the city, including 6 murders, 12 robberies, and 115 cases of assault.
- Population: 9,031
- Crime rate: 5,556
- Chance of becoming a victim of a crime: Not provided
- Violent crimes: 66
- Property crimes: 410
Rockingham, despite its small population of 9,031, is considered one of the most dangerous places to live in North Carolina due to its remarkably high crime rate. The city’s crime rate stands at 5,556, making it 110% more dangerous than the state average. Gangs and drug activity contribute significantly to the crime problem in Rockingham. In 2022, there were 66 reported violent crimes, including 4 murders, 14 robberies, and 42 assaults. Property crime is also a concern, with 410 incidents reported in 2022, including 110 burglaries and 16 motor vehicle thefts.
- Population: Approximately 81,000
- Crime rate: 48.49 per 1,000 people
- Chance of becoming a victim of a violent crime: 1 in 21
- Violent crimes: 726
- Property crimes: 3,173
With a population of approximately 81,000 people, Gastonia has a crime rate of 48.49 per 1,000 people, making it 113% higher than the national average. Residents of Gastonia have a 1 in 21 chance of becoming a victim of a violent crime. In 2022, there were 726 reported violent crimes and 3,173 property crimes. Of the violent crimes, 9 were murders, 142 were robberies, and 556 were assaults. The city also experiences high rates of property crimes, including burglary and theft.
- Population: 5,000
- Chance of becoming a victim of a crime: 1 in 6
- Property crime rate: 107.33 per 1,000 people
- Violent crime rate: 17.2 per 1,000 people
Whiteville, despite its small population of 5,000, has alarmingly high crime rates, making it one of the most dangerous cities in North Carolina. The chances of becoming a crime victim in Whiteville are as high as 1 in 6. Property crimes dominate the city’s crime statistics, occurring at a staggering rate of 107.33 per 1,000 people. Violent crime is also a significant issue, with a rate of 17.2 per 1,000 people reported in 2022. Drug activity plays a prominent role in the city’s crime situation.
- Population: 298,263
- Crime rate: 4,513 per 100,000 people
- Chance of becoming a victim of any type of crime: 1 in 23
- Violent crimes in 2,713
- Property crimes in: 10,880
City with a population of 298,263, is considered dangerous due to its crime rate of 4,513 per 100,000 people, making it 71% more dangerous than the national average. Residents face a 1 in 23 chance of becoming a victim of any type of crime.There were 2,713 reported violent crimes, including 59 murders, 584 robberies, and 1,972 assaults. Property crimes were also prevalent, with 10,880 reported incidents, including burglaries, thefts, and vehicle thefts.
- Violent crimes in 2022: 2,065
- Property crimes in 2022: 7,240
Fayetteville consistently ranks as one of the most dangerous cities in North Carolina due to its high crime rates. In 2022, the city reported 2,065 violent crimes and 7,240 property crimes. The chance of becoming a victim of a violent crime in Fayetteville is 1 in 100. The same chance for property crimes is 1 in 29, with 1,328 burglaries and 5,423 thefts reported in 2022. The city faces challenges related to crime, including murders, robberies, assaults, burglaries, and thefts.
- Population: Around 15,000
- Violent crime rate: 20.12 per 1,000 people
- Property crime rate: 56.77 per 1,000 people
- Violent crimes in: 303
- Property crimes in: 855
Known as the “murder capital” of North Carolina, Henderson is considered one of the worst places to live due to its high crime rates. With a population of around 15,000, the city has a violent crime rate of 20.12 and a property crime rate of 56.77 per 1,000 people. There were 303 incidents of violent crime reported, including 10 murders, 41 robberies, and 246 assaults. The chance of becoming a victim of a violent crime in Henderson is 1 in 50. Property crime, including burglaries and motor vehicle thefts, is also prevalent, with 855 incidents reported.
- Population: 285,527
- Crime rate: 4,597 per 100,000 people
- Chance of becoming a victim of a violent crime: 1 in 115
- Violent crimes: 2,455
- Property crimes: Over 11,000
Durham, with a population of 285,527, has a crime rate of 4,597 per 100,000 people, making it 96% higher than the national average. Tthere were 2,455 reported violent crimes, including 36 murders, 627 robberies, and 1,665 assaults. The chance of becoming a victim of a violent crime in Durham is 1 in 115. Property crimes were also a concern, with over 11,000 incidents reported, including burglaries and thefts. The chance of becoming a victim of a property crime in Durham is 1 in 26.
5 Tips for Ensuring Safety While Traveling
Stick to Well-Lit Areas
When visiting any location after sundown or when you anticipate returning to your car in the dark, stick to well-lit areas. This advice is especially crucial if you’re visiting popular tourist spots. Criminals often lurk in parking lots, looking for unlocked cars and people walking alone in the dark. So, staying in brightly lit areas can significantly increase your safety.
Maintain a Tidy Vehicle
While parking in a well-lit area boosts safety, maintaining a clutter-free vehicle interior can prevent break-ins. Criminals often glance through car windows seeking visible valuables. If they see nothing enticing on the seats or floor, they’re likely to move on. Don’t attempt to hide items under blankets or similar coverings as this can pique a burglar’s interest. Instead, leave valuable items in your hotel room.
Keep Your Car Windows Closed
If a stranger approaches your vehicle, refrain from rolling down your windows. Even a small gap can give a seasoned criminal control over your vehicle. There’s typically no legitimate reason a stranger would need to converse with you through an open window. If someone insists on doing so, exit the parking lot, and if the situation escalates, call the police.
Carry Only What’s Necessary
Avoid carrying unnecessary items while exploring. Professional pickpockets can swiftly steal your wallet during the brief confusion of accidental physical contact. So, try to maintain some distance from strangers and keep your pockets as empty as possible. This tip applies to children traveling with you, too, who may be easier targets for pickpockets.
Remain Calm in the Presence of Wildlife
North Carolina’s abundant greenery and mountains mean encounters with wildlife, like bears, are possible. If you cross paths with a bear, don’t panic. Most bear encounters are harmless, as bears tend to avoid humans. Speak to the bear calmly and back away slowly.
Although North Carolina has its own set of urban battlegrounds, as discussed in this article, it’s interesting to compare them with areas in the Southwest, such as those outlined in this analysis of the most dangerous cities in New Mexico
What is the most dangerous city in North Carolina?
Lumberton, in Robeson County, is considered the most dangerous city in North Carolina. It has a disproportionately high crime rate, with the chance of becoming a victim of crime at 1 in 27. The city has high property and violent crime rates, and the prevalent criminal activity is largely attributed to drug use in the area.
What factors contribute to high crime rates in Albemarle?
Albemarle, which is near the coast, experiences high crime rates due to factors such as poverty, a lack of employment opportunities, and the overall quality of life. The city had a significant number of violent crimes reported in 2022, including six murders.
What is the crime situation like in small cities like Rockingham and Whiteville?
Despite their small populations, Rockingham and Whiteville are among the most dangerous cities in North Carolina. Rockingham has a crime rate that is 110% higher than the state average, with gangs and drug activity contributing significantly to the crime problem. Whiteville, on the other hand, has a high rate of property crimes, occurring at a staggering rate of 107.33 per 1,000 people, and a violent crime rate of 17.2 per 1,000 people. Drug activity also plays a prominent role in the city’s crime situation.
Are large cities in North Carolina also affected by high crime rates?
Yes, large cities like Greensboro, Fayetteville, and Durham also face high crime rates. Greensboro’s crime rate is 71% higher than the national average, while Fayetteville consistently ranks as one of the most dangerous cities in North Carolina. Durham has a crime rate of 4,597 per 100,000 people, which is 96% higher than the national average, with over 11,000 reported property crimes.
What neighborhoods should one be cautious of when visiting Greensboro?
Although crime is present throughout Greensboro, neighborhoods such as Warnersville, Arlington Park, and Lindley Park have higher crime rates. It is advised to remain vigilant, particularly during the night, when visiting these areas.
Why is Henderson known as the “murder capital” of North Carolina?
Henderson has gained the unfortunate title of “murder capital” of North Carolina due to its high violent crime rates. Despite a relatively small population, the city has a violent crime rate of 20.12 per 1,000 people and a property crime rate of 56.77 per 1,000 people, making it one of the worst places to live in terms of crime in the state.
What steps can I take to ensure safety while traveling in North Carolina?
Travelers can ensure their safety by sticking to well-lit areas, maintaining a tidy vehicle, keeping car windows closed, carrying only necessary items, and remaining calm in the presence of wildlife. It’s also advised to maintain distance from strangers to prevent pickpocketing and be aware of the local wildlife, especially in areas abundant with greenery and mountains.
Which neighborhood in Fayetteville has a high crime rate?
The Murchison Road and the Bragg Boulevard areas in Fayetteville are known for having a higher crime rate compared to other neighborhoods. It’s advisable to remain vigilant when visiting these areas, particularly during night-time.
Which neighborhood should one avoid in Durham?
Certain neighborhoods in Durham, such as the Walltown neighborhood and areas around North Carolina Central University, have been reported to have higher crime rates. As a visitor, it’s important to remain alert and cautious, particularly during the evening and night.
North Carolina, with its coastal location and proximity to neighboring states, offers a variety of attractions and experiences. However, it’s important to be aware of safety concerns in certain cities. Lumberton, Albemarle, Reidsville, Rockingham, Gastonia, Whiteville, Greensboro, Fayetteville, Henderson, and Durham are among the cities with the highest crime rates in the state. These cities exhibit higher-than-average crime rates, including both property crimes and violent crimes, often associated with factors such as poverty, drug activity, and overall quality of life. While exploring North Carolina, it is crucial to take precautions such as staying in well-lit areas, maintaining a tidy vehicle, keeping car windows closed, carrying only necessary items, and being mindful of wildlife encounters.