If you’re a native of Massachusetts like me, you’ll know that our state’s got more to keep an eye on than just the spectral remnants of the Old World in Boston, the eerie Witches of Salem, and the notoriously gruff New Englanders in Worcester. The Bay State, my friends, has its fair share of danger zones too.
It’s not all about the highbrow Harvard alumni and the elitist Celtics enthusiasts, oh no. Massachusetts, my home, has its own breed of fearsome lawbreakers, lurking in the shadows of the state’s most perilous cities.
But fear not, my fellow Bay Staters, our friends at RoadSnacks have compiled a list of the most treacherous places in Massachusetts for 2022. I strongly suggest you give it a gander before making any life-altering decisions.
So, how did we pinpoint these risky locales in our beloved Red Sox territory? We turned to the cold, hard facts. We scrutinized 240 cities in total, poring over the FBI’s most recent crime report for violent and property crime statistics for every place with a population exceeding 5,000.
The results were intriguing, to say the least. Massachusetts, it seems, is leading the pack in arson incidents, but trailing behind in murder and aggravated assault.
And, astonishingly, the city with the highest number of assaults and murders in the state is home to a mere 13,000 residents.
While Massachusetts didn’t make the cut for the top ten most dangerous states in the country, Springfield has the dubious honor of being one of the most dangerous cities nationwide.
And if we were to bestow the “Most Dangerous New England State” award, rumor has it that Massachusetts would take the cake.
Perhaps we Bay Staters just need a group hug? Or maybe our most hazardous cities require a stronger police presence.
I can’t say for certain, but what I do know is this: you should definitely peruse the list of Massachusetts’ most dangerous places below. You might find a few surprises.
10 Riskiest Places 2024
|Violent Crimes Per 100k
|Property Crimes Per 100k
For three consecutive years, Holyoke has held the dubious honor of being the most dangerous city in my home state of Massachusetts.
Nestled just north of Springfield, between the serene Connecticut River and the majestic Mount Tom Range, Holyoke might seem like a peaceful haven at first glance.
But don’t be deceived, my friends. The total crime rate in Holyoke is a staggering three times higher than the average across the state.
In 2020, residents of Holyoke had a 1 in 32 chance of falling victim to a property crime. So, if you find yourself in Holyoke, remember to lock your doors and keep a watchful eye on your belongings.
What’s more, Holyoke reported nearly one violent crime per day, with the 49th-highest rate of rape cases and the second-highest murder rate in Massachusetts.
- Population: 40,002
- Violent Crimes Per 100k: 904
- Property Crimes Per 100k: 3,114
Springfield, the birthplace of both Smith & Wesson, America’s largest handgun producer, and the beloved children’s book author Dr. Seuss, is a city of contrasts.
Unfortunately, it’s the Smith & Wesson side of Springfield that’s more prominent, as the city had the highest violent crime rate in Massachusetts.
Springfield reported 18 murders in 2020, giving it the sixth highest murder rate statewide. Residents of Springfield had a 1 in 103 chance of being the victim of a violent crime over the year.
- Population: 153,084
- Violent Crimes Per 100k: 966
- Property Crimes Per 100k: 2,436
3. North Adams
North Adams, a city of 12,620 in Berkshire County in western Massachusetts, is known for its tourism, culture, and recreation. However, it’s also gaining a reputation as a dangerous place.
North Adams had the second highest burglary rate in the state, with 69 break-ins reported in 2020. While violent crime is relatively low in North Adams, the city had the 16th highest rate of rape cases in the state.
- Population: 12,620
- Violent Crimes Per 100k: 681
- Property Crimes Per 100k: 2,432
Worcester, known as the “Heart of the Commonwealth” due to its central location in Massachusetts, is the second largest city in New England and the fourth most dangerous city in the state.
Worcester reported about one murder per month in 2020, and that’s just a fraction of the 1,169 violent crimes reported over the year.
- Population: 184,850
- Violent Crimes Per 100k: 632
- Property Crimes Per 100k: 1,998
Hadley, located about 20 miles north of Springfield, is the fifth most dangerous place in Massachusetts. Despite being the smallest town on this list with a population of 5,352, Hadley proves that small towns aren’t necessarily safer.
Hadley had the 59th highest rate of rape cases in the state, accounting for 25% of all violent crimes committed over the year.
- Population: 5,352
- Violent Crimes Per 100k: 485
- Property Crimes Per 100k: 2,821
City that sits approximately 25 miles south of Boston, holds the unfortunate title of being the sixth most dangerous place in Massachusetts.
With a population of 99,171, Brockton reported the fifth-highest violent crime rate in the state, with a total of 752 such incidents in 2020. This means that for every 100,000 residents, there were 758 violent crimes.
The city also reported a property crime rate of 1,672 per 100,000 residents. Despite these statistics, Brockton is a city with a rich history and a strong sense of community, home to the historic Brockton Fair and the Fuller Craft Museum.
- Population: 99,171
- Violent Crimes Per 100k: 758
- Property Crimes Per 100k: 1,672
Boston, the city I hold dear to my heart, is a bustling metropolis located on the eastern edge of Massachusetts.
Known for its rich history, cultural significance, and being a hub of education and innovation, Boston is a city that attracts millions of visitors each year.
However, it’s also the seventh most dangerous city in the state. In 2020, Boston reported 58 murders and 184 sexual assaults.
Despite these figures, Boston’s vibrant neighborhoods, historic landmarks, and world-class dining and entertainment scenes continue to make it a city full of life and energy.
- Population: 697,323
- Violent Crimes Per 100k: 624
- Property Crimes Per 100k: 1,866
8. West Springfield
West Springfield, located just across the Connecticut River from Springfield, ranks as the eighth most dangerous city in Massachusetts.
While its violent crime rate is significantly lower than Springfield’s, its property crime rate is nearly as high, making it the second highest in Massachusetts.
Despite these figures, West Springfield is known for its annual Big E Fair, the largest agricultural event on the eastern seaboard and the sixth-largest fair in the nation.
- Population: 28,437
- Violent Crimes Per 100k: 471
- Property Crimes Per 100k: 3,091
Pittsfield, the largest city and county seat of Berkshire County, is the ninth most dangerous place in Massachusetts. In 2020, Pittsfield reported about five burglaries per week, giving the city the highest burglary rate in the state.
- Population: 41,865
- Violent Crimes Per 100k: 814
- Property Crimes Per 100k: 1,586
Chicopee, nestled between Holyoke and Springfield, is the tenth most dangerous city in Massachusetts. While Chicopee’s violent crime rate is lower than its neighboring cities, its property crime rate is almost as high.
Despite these figures, Chicopee is a city rich in history, home to the Chicopee Memorial State Park and the historic Chicopee City Hall.
The city’s strong sense of community and commitment to public safety are testament to its resilience in the face of these challenges.
- Population: 54,918
- Violent Crimes Per 100k: 535
- Property Crimes Per 100k: 2,090
Most Horrific Crime Ever In Massachusetts
One of the most horrific crimes in Massachusetts history is the infamous case of Albert DeSalvo, better known as the Boston Strangler.
Between 1962 and 1964, the city of Boston was gripped by fear as 13 women were brutally murdered in their homes.
The victims ranged in age from 19 to 85, and they were all sexually assaulted before being strangled with articles of their own clothing. The case baffled police and terrified the public, as there seemed to be no clear pattern to the killings.
Albert DeSalvo, a handyman and construction worker, was eventually arrested for unrelated sexual offenses. While in custody, he confessed to the murders, providing details that only the killer could have known.
However, there was no physical evidence linking him to the crimes, and he later recanted his confession. Despite this, he was convicted and sentenced to life in prison in 1967.
The case of the Boston Strangler has been the subject of numerous books, films, and television shows. It remains one of the most infamous serial killer cases in American history, and it forever changed the way law enforcement agencies handle serial murder investigations.
Despite DeSalvo’s confession and conviction, some doubt remains about his guilt, and the case is still considered open by some investigators.
5 Safety Tips
1. Wait to Cross the Road
If this sounds obvious, you aren’t from Massachusetts.
One of the worst offenders is Boston.
Waiting to cross the road in most other places consists of waiting for the light to turn green.
Bostonians cross when they want to.
If a car pulls up while they’re walking to the other side, they will slam on the hood or yell at the driver.
So, just like how you wouldn’t jump off a cliff because your friends are doing it, don’t follow the crowd at a stop light.
Cross when it is fully safe to do so.
2. Question Tour Guides
If you’re visiting a town with a famous past in Massachusetts, there will be a litany of tours.
That’s a great thing for tourists because it has a lot to do with why they are there.
What you have to watch out for are scam artists who pose as tour guides.
These people are often standing outside of a popular attraction, usually one with historical relevance.
Perhaps they have a handout for you or are telling a story.
If you interact, it may cost you.
After you’ve taken the handout and started to walk away, that’s when the scammer will inform you that the map or info sheet is $20.
Trying to give it back instead might result in conflict.
Sometimes that conflict results in physical violence.
3. Establish Safe Zones
When you’re new to an area, the whole place can feel intimidating.
Something that can help is knowing where the safe spots are.
That could be in the lobby of your hotel, a friendly cafe, or even just knowing where the hospital or police department is.
Having places you can feel good about going regardless of the situation will give you more confidence, especially if you’re traveling solo.
If you find yourself experiencing some trouble, go to that place where you know you can get some help.
4. Research Schedules in Advance
Before setting out on a big adventure, take the time to look into where you want to go and what you want to see.
The reason is all about timing.
Not everything is open every day or during normal business hours.
If you take public transportation somewhere and that place isn’t open, you might be stranded for a while.
That could leave you and your group exposed.
Being on top of the schedule will reduce the chances of being in a bad position.
5. Carry Little Cash
A common mistake travelers make is to withdraw large amounts of cash to carry around.
That may have made more sense, as a precaution, in the past.
These days, almost everywhere you go will take a card of some sort.
Even places that don’t can direct you to the nearest ATM.
This applies to children, too.
If you want them to have money, get a prepaid card so they aren’t walking around with cash either.
For those seeking a break from the hustle and bustle of the cities, the natural beauty of Massachusetts offers a serene escape. You can find more about this in an interesting article here.
How are these cities addressing the high crime rates?
Many of these cities are implementing various strategies to address high crime rates.
These can include increasing police presence in high-crime areas, investing in community policing initiatives, providing resources for crime prevention education, and implementing programs to address underlying issues such as poverty and lack of education, which can contribute to crime.
Are there any initiatives to help victims of crimes in these cities?
Yes, there are several resources available to help victims of crimes. These can include victim assistance programs, counseling services, legal aid, and support groups.
Many cities also have dedicated departments or organizations that provide support and resources to crime victims.
How does Massachusetts compare to other states in terms of crime rates?
As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, Massachusetts does not rank in the top ten most dangerous states in the U.S. However, certain cities within the state, such as Springfield, have high crime rates compared to other cities nationwide.
It’s important to note that crime rates can vary significantly from one city or region to another, even within the same state.
What factors contribute to the high crime rates in these cities?
There are many factors that can contribute to high crime rates. These can include socioeconomic factors such as poverty, unemployment, and lack of education; social issues such as substance abuse and family breakdown; and environmental factors such as high population density and lack of community resources.
It’s important to note that these factors are complex and interrelated, and addressing crime effectively often requires a comprehensive approach that addresses these underlying issues.
Are there any areas within these cities that are considered safer?
Yes, within any city, there can be significant variation in crime rates from one neighborhood to another. Some areas may have lower crime rates due to factors such as a strong community presence, effective local law enforcement, and a lower population density.
However, it’s always important to stay informed about local crime trends and to take appropriate safety precautions, regardless of where you are.
In conclusion, while Massachusetts is a state known for its rich history, cultural significance, and educational institutions, it also has its share of challenges, particularly in terms of crime rates in certain cities.
From Holyoke to Chicopee, these cities have shown higher than-average crime rates, which is a cause for concern. However, it’s important to remember that these statistics don’t define these cities entirely.
Each city has its unique characteristics, history, and community spirit that make it a place worth living in or visiting.
Moreover, it’s crucial to note that efforts are being made at various levels to address these issues, from increased police presence to community initiatives aimed at crime prevention.
As residents or visitors, staying informed, vigilant, and taking necessary precautions can go a long way in ensuring personal safety.