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10 Most Dangerous Cities In Iowa 2024: Inside Crime Epidemic

iowa dangerous cities

If you’ve perused the Crime and Courts page of the Press-Citizen in Iowa City, you’ll be privy to the reality many Iowans are well aware of – this Midwestern state houses several hazardous locations too.

Are the residents idle because of the flat terrain? Is it due to job scarcity? Minimal wages? Yes to all, and there are even more reasons. 

How did we deduce which areas were the most treacherous in this land of cornfields? We turned to the data. We reviewed 75 cities in total, using the most recent FBI crime report to examine violent crime and property crime statistics for all places with a population over 5,000.

We found that Iowa has some intriguing stats in relation to the national average when it comes to violent and property crime. The state tops the list for arson cases, but lags in murder and aggravated assault. Shockingly, the city with the highest number of assaults and murders in the state has fewer than 26,000 inhabitants.

However, not all of Iowa is rife with danger. The state’s guardian angel is undoubtedly keeping an eye on its safest cities. Conversely, it’s also true that Iowa has its share of perilous cities; these places can be quite treacherous.

While the bulk of Iowa’s issues do revolve around its biggest cities, it might surprise you to learn that the state’s most hazardous city has a mere 11,000 inhabitants.

Despite Iowa not ranking among the top ten most hazardous states, Des Moines and Davenport feature among the most treacherous cities in the nation. Could these cities benefit from increased police presence? We’re not entirely sure.

However, one thing is certain: it’s worth examining the list of Iowa’s most hazardous places below – there may be some unexpected entries.

The Most Riskiest Cities 2024

City Population Violent Crimes Per 100k Property Crimes Per 100k
Council Bluffs 62,144 923  4,788
Ottumwa 24,293 946  3,906
Davenport 101,806 736  3,925 
Fort Dodge 23,755 757 3,481 
Des Moines 215,290 704  3,901 
Sioux City 82,628 577  3,245 
Burlington 24,622 491 3,500 
Keokuk 10,091 673  2,447 
Waterloo 67,200 623  2,556 
Fort Madison 10,239 625  2,314 
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10. Fort Madison:

Fort Madison, with a population of 10,239, rounds out the top ten most dangerous cities in Iowa. The city reported 625 violent crimes per 100k people and 2,314 property crimes per 100k people.

  • Population: 10,239
  • Rank Last Year: 9 (Down 1)
  • Violent Crimes Per 100k: 625 (Eighth most dangerous)
  • Property Crimes Per 100k: 2,314 (Tenth most dangerous)
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9. Waterloo:

Waterloo Iowa

With a population of 67,200, Waterloo is the ninth most dangerous city in Iowa. The city reported 623 violent crimes per 100k people and 2,556 property crimes per 100k people.

    • Population: 67,200
    • Rank Last Year: 8 (Down 1)
    • Violent Crimes Per 100k: 623 (Ninth most dangerous)
    • Property Crimes Per 100k: 2,556 (Ninth most dangerous)
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8. Keokuk:

Keokuk Iowa

Keokuk, located at the intersection of three states and with a population of 10,091, is the eighth most dangerous city in Iowa. The city reported 673 violent crimes per 100k people and 2,447 property crimes per 100k people.

    • Population: 10,091
    • Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 1)
    • Violent Crimes Per 100k: 673 (Sixth most dangerous)
    • Property Crimes Per 100k: 2,447 (Eighth most dangerous)

7. Burlington:

Burlington Iowa

Located in the southeastern corner of the state, Burlington has a population of 24,622. The city reported 491 violent crimes per 100k people and 3,500 property crimes per 100k people, making it the fifth most dangerous city in terms of property crime.

    • Population: 24,622
    • Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 2)
    • Violent Crimes Per 100k: 491 (14th most dangerous)
    • Property Crimes Per 100k: 3,500 (Fifth most dangerous)
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6. Sioux City:

Sioux City

Sioux City, with a population of 82,628, has a high rate of property crime, ranking seventh in the state. The city reported 577 violent crimes per 100k people and 3,245 property crimes per 100k people.

    • Population: 82,628
    • Rank Last Year: 6 (No Change)
    • Violent Crimes Per 100k: 577 (11th most dangerous)
    • Property Crimes Per 100k: 3,245 (Seventh most dangerous)
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5. Des Moines:

As the state capital and the largest city in Iowa with a population of 215,290, Des Moines has a high crime rate. The city reported 704 violent crimes per 100k people and 3,901 property crimes per 100k people.

    • Population: 215,290
    • Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 3)
    • Violent Crimes Per 100k: 704 (Fifth most dangerous)
    • Property Crimes Per 100k: 3,901 (Fourth most dangerous)
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4. Fort Dodge:

Fort Dodge Iowa

Known for its long history of gypsum mining, Fort Dodge, with a population of 23,755, has a high crime rate. The city reported 757 violent crimes per 100k people and 3,481 property crimes per 100k people. It also has the highest murder rate in the state.

    • Population: 23,755
    • Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 6)
    • Violent Crimes Per 100k: 757 (Third most dangerous)
    • Property Crimes Per 100k: 3,481 (Sixth most dangerous)

Through sharing this unfortunate event, the article encourages readers to be vigilant and proactive in preventing dog attacks, especially within the context of the 10 most dangerous cities in Iowa. 

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3. Davenport:

Davenport

Davenport, with a population of 101,806, is a city of contrasts. Despite its beautiful location along the Mississippi River and vibrant cultural events, it has a high crime rate. The city reported 736 violent crimes per 100k people and 3,925 property crimes per 100k people.

    • Population: 101,806
    • Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 1)
    • Violent Crimes Per 100k: 736 (Fourth most dangerous)
    • Property Crimes Per 100k: 3,925 (Second most dangerous)

2. Ottumwa:

Ottumwa, IA

With a population of 24,293, Ottumwa has the highest rate of violent crimes in the state, with 946 incidents per 100k people. Property crime is also a significant issue, with the city ranking third in this category with 3,906 incidents per 100k people.

    • Population: 24,293
    • Rank Last Year: 3 (Up 1)
    • Violent Crimes Per 100k: 946 (Most dangerous)
    • Property Crimes Per 100k: 3,906 (Third most dangerous)

1. Council Bluffs:

Council Bluffs

Council Bluffs, with a population of 62,144, is the most dangerous city in Iowa. Despite its historical significance and cultural richness, the city has seen a surge in both violent and property crimes.

The city’s crime situation is a concern, with the second highest violent crime rate in the state and the highest property crime rate.

    • Population: 62,144
    • Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
    • Violent Crimes Per 100k: 923 (Second most dangerous)
    • Property Crimes Per 100k: 4,788 (Most dangerous)

Here’s how we determined the most dangerous cities in Iowa for 2024:

The FBI releases two sets of crime data every year. The first set is a preliminary dataset that only includes the largest cities in the country. The second, more detailed set is released at the end of the year.

For our analysis, we used the most recently available data, which is from the 2020 Crime In The United States Report. We plan to update our findings when the new data becomes available in September 2024.

Our criteria for determining the most dangerous cities were as follows:

To ensure a fair comparison, we only considered cities in Iowa with a population of over 5,000. This gave us a total of 75 cities to analyze.

We ranked each city from 1 to 75 for both criteria, with a #1 ranking indicating the highest level of danger for that criteria.

We then averaged the two rankings to create a “Dangerous Index”.

The city with the lowest index was deemed the most dangerous in Iowa. In this case, it was Council Bluffs. If there were any ties, the city with the smaller population was ranked as more dangerous.

Here are the safest cities in Iowa:

  1. Orange City (Pop. 6,195)
  2. Johnston (Pop. 23,252)
  3. Waukee (Pop. 25,590)
  4. Vinton (Pop. 5,056)
  5. Polk City (Pop. 5,165)
  6. Asbury (Pop. 5,909)
  7. Eldridge (Pop. 6,991)
  8. Decorah (Pop. 7,516)
  9. Sioux Center (Pop. 7,669)
  10. Norwalk (Pop. 12,313)

FAQ

What factors contribute to a city’s crime rate?

Crime rates in cities can be influenced by various factors such as socioeconomic conditions, education levels, employment opportunities, the presence of gangs or organized crime, law enforcement policies and presence, and community relations.

How are crime rates calculated?

Crime rates are typically calculated as the number of crimes per 100,000 people. This allows for a fair comparison between places with different population sizes.

The two main categories of crimes are violent crimes (such as murder, assault, and robbery) and property crimes (such as burglary, theft, and arson).

How can cities reduce their crime rates?

Cities can work to reduce their crime rates in several ways, such as investing in education, providing job opportunities, improving socioeconomic conditions, implementing community policing strategies, and investing in social services that help address root causes of crime such as mental health and substance abuse issues.

What is the difference between violent crime and property crime?

Violent crimes involve direct harm or threat to individuals, such as murder, assault, rape, or robbery. Property crimes, on the other hand, involve illegal acquisition of another person’s property, like burglary, theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson.

Why might smaller cities have high crime rates?

Crime rates can be high in smaller cities due to a variety of factors, such as socioeconomic conditions, a lack of job opportunities, or a high prevalence of drug or alcohol abuse. It’s important to note that crime is not solely a function of city size and can vary widely even among similarly sized cities.

How reliable are crime statistics?

Crime statistics can be a useful tool for understanding general trends and comparisons, but they do have limitations. Not all crimes are reported to the police, so actual crime rates may be higher.

Additionally, different cities or law enforcement agencies might categorize and report crimes slightly differently, which can impact comparisons.

What can residents do to make their neighborhoods safer?

Residents can contribute to neighborhood safety in many ways such as forming neighborhood watch groups, reporting suspicious activities to law enforcement, participating in local community organizations, and advocating for public policies that address the root causes of crime.

Are certain types of crimes more prevalent in certain cities?

Crime trends can vary significantly from one city to another. Factors such as economic conditions, demographics, cultural norms, and local policies can influence the types of crimes that are most prevalent in a particular city.

For instance, one city might have a higher rate of property crimes, while another might have more violent crimes. It’s essential to look at local data to understand the crime situation in a specific city.

Final Words

In conclusion, understanding crime rates and safety levels in cities is a complex issue. While data and statistics provide a helpful snapshot of the crime situation, it’s important to remember that these numbers are influenced by a multitude of factors ranging from socioeconomic conditions to law enforcement strategies.

Despite some cities in Iowa experiencing higher levels of crime, it’s crucial to recognize the ongoing efforts by law enforcement, policymakers, and community members to improve safety and reduce crime rates.

Moreover, even in cities with higher crime rates, there are usually areas that are safer than others, and many incidents are isolated to specific neighborhoods or groups.

While this report may highlight the cities with the highest crime rates, it also serves as a call to action. Each statistic represents an opportunity for intervention, prevention, and improvement.

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