New Jersey, known for its bustling boardwalks and the infamous reality TV star Snookie, also has a less glamorous side. It’s home to some cities that are more treacherous than a slow-moving vehicle on the Garden State Parkway or a stale Jersey bagel.
We’ve compiled a list of the top ten most perilous cities in New Jersey for 2024. The aim? To guide you through these risky terrains when you’re deciding on your next place to call home
. We’re not talking about the kind of danger that comes from biting into a moldy bagel. No, we’re referring to the kind of danger that makes the headlines on News 12.
Our list is based on the rates of violent and property crimes in cities with a population of at least 5,000. This gave us a pool of 330 cities to analyze.
The cities that made the cut are notorious for daylight robberies, car thefts, and frequent shootings. Some neighborhoods in these cities are so dangerous that they should be avoided at all costs, especially after sundown.
But let’s not paint all of Newark and Jersey City with the same brush. There are pockets of these cities that are quite pleasant, with safe neighborhoods and bustling shopping centers. However, we strongly advise doing your homework before deciding to relocate.
New Jersey’s high crime rate isn’t entirely its fault. It has the highest population density in the nation, and with such a large number of people – especially Jerseyites – in one place, problems are bound to arise.
To find out where these troubled New Jersey cities, with more drama than a Sopranos episode, are located, read on.
10 Riskiest Places 2024
|Violent Crimes Per 100k
|Property Crimes Per 100k
1. Asbury Park
Perched on the Jersey Shore and within the New York City metro area, Asbury Park emerges as New Jersey’s most perilous city.
The city’s overall crime rate is triple the state’s average, with violent crime being a significant contributor. In 2020, the odds of a resident being assaulted, murdered, or sexually assaulted were 1 in 81, so caution is advised, even on the seemingly serene boardwalk.
- Population: 15,331
- Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,226
- Property Crimes Per 100k: 3,424
Millville may not be as infamous as Camden when it comes to violence, but its property crime rate, ranking fifth in the state, gives it a higher overall crime rate.
If you’re planning a visit to one of Millville’s parks, ensure your valuables are secure and your doors are locked. Otherwise, you might join the 1 in 29 residents who experienced property theft or damage in 2020.
- Population: 27,272
- Violent Crimes Per 100k: 634
- Property Crimes Per 100k: 3,402
An hour’s drive south of Philadelphia brings you to Bridgeton, the third most dangerous city in New Jersey. While Bridgeton’s local zoo may house bears and tigers, the real threats lurk on its streets, where violent crimes rank fifth in the state.
It’s also wise to double-check your locks in Bridgeton, as it had the highest burglary rate in New Jersey for 2020.
- Population: 24,032
- Violent Crimes Per 100k: 973
- Property Crimes Per 100k: 3,066
4. Atlantic City
Famed for its casinos, beaches, and boardwalk, and even serving as the inspiration for the Monopoly board, Atlantic City also has a darker side, ranking as New Jersey’s fourth most dangerous city.
If you’re a fan of Boardwalk Empire, you’ll know that Atlantic City’s history is steeped in crime, and today it still holds the tenth highest overall crime rate in New Jersey.
In 2020, residents had a 1 in 37 chance of falling victim to a property crime. And it’s not just poker winnings that are at risk; the city also had the third highest murder rate in the state.
- Population: 37,550
- Violent Crimes Per 100k: 822
- Property Crimes Per 100k: 2,697
Don’t let the name “Woodbury” mislead you. It’s not a quaint hamlet nestled in a forest, but rather a part of the bustling Philadelphia metro area, just a 20-minute drive from the city center.
And while it ranks as the fifth most dangerous place in New Jersey, the real concern isn’t violence. If you end up “buried” in Woodbury, it’s likely due to natural causes. The real fear here is property crime.
This town of 9,744 people has the seventh highest rate of burglaries in the state.
- Population: 9,744
- Violent Crimes Per 100k: 389
- Property Crimes Per 100k: 3,366
Just a half-hour drive southeast of Camden, Lindenwold holds the sixth spot on New Jersey’s most dangerous cities list for 2022.
With the seventh highest rate of rape cases in the state and a 1 in 157 chance of residents being assaulted in a year, it’s a city that demands caution.
Adding to the concern, Lindenwold also had the third highest burglary rate statewide, contributing to its reputation as one of the least desirable places in New Jersey.
A chilling reminder of the city’s crime rate is the tragic case of a 16-year-old girl who was fatally shot in late 2021, a stark example of the violence that can erupt in this city.
- Population: 17,206
- Violent Crimes Per 100k: 633
- Property Crimes Per 100k: 2,417
7. Neptune City
Dubbed “The Crossroads of the Jersey Shore,” Neptune Township unfortunately doesn’t represent the region well in terms of crime.
On a positive note, it does have the lowest violent crime rate on this list. However, with a 1 in 30 chance of residents becoming victims of property crime, Neptune Township still has room for improvement.
The city was shaken by a fatal shooting incident in late 2021, underscoring the need for continued vigilance and community safety efforts.
- Population: 27,320
- Violent Crimes Per 100k: 391
- Property Crimes Per 100k: 3,327
Camden’s reputation for violent crime is well-known nationally, and the statistics support this perception. In 2020, Camden had the highest rate of violent crime and the second highest murder rate in New Jersey.
However, it’s worth noting that the city has seen a decrease in crime over the years, with murders dropping from 67 in 2012 to 23 in 2020. Camden is also being viewed as a model for police reform.
A particularly shocking crime that occurred in Camden was the case of a 19-year-old man who admitted to killing a 74-year-old woman who was like a grandmother to him.
- Population: 73,127
- Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,602
- Property Crimes Per 100k: 2,159
Elizabeth, the fourth most populous city in New Jersey, also has the ninth highest crime rate in the state for 2022.
While violent crime is a significant issue, the majority of the 774 crimes committed in 2020 were robberies or assaults. Elizabeth has been slowly climbing this list, while its northern neighbor, Newark, has been seeing improving crime statistics.
- Population: 129,518
- Violent Crimes Per 100k: 597
- Property Crimes Per 100k: 2,236
Named after a local Native American tribe, Absecon is a coastal town in southern New Jersey. Despite its scenic location, the resort atmosphere is marred by a high crime rate.
While violence isn’t a major concern, property crime is a significant issue, with Absecon having the fifth highest rate of burglaries and the third-highest rate of larcenies in the state.
- Population: 8,856
- Violent Crimes Per 100k: 282
- Property Crimes Per 100k: 3,895
Most Horrific Crime Ever Happened In NJ
One of the most horrific crimes that ever occurred in the state of New Jersey is the infamous case of John List. In 1971, in the quiet town of Westfield, List, a seemingly ordinary family man, committed an unthinkable act.
He systematically murdered his entire family, including his wife, mother, and three children, in their sprawling Victorian mansion.
After the murders, he calmly went about his business, cancelling deliveries and sending notes to the children’s schools saying the family would be out of town for a while.
He then disappeared, leaving the lights on and classical music playing in the house. It was nearly a month before the bodies were discovered, and by then, List had vanished. He assumed a new identity and started a new life in Colorado, even remarrying.
It wasn’t until 18 years later, in 1989, that he was finally brought to justice after a tip from a viewer of the television show “America’s Most Wanted.”
The John List case remains one of the most chilling and notorious crimes in New Jersey’s history.
5 Safety Tips For Visiting New Jersey
- Don’t leave anything in your car, not even loose change or an old jacket. Smash and Grabs are quite common in NJ.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Pay attention.
- Do not carry a purse or wallet if you don’t have to.
- If you come back to your car and there is stuff tied to it. Do not take it off at that location. It’s a trap.
- When at a bar or any public space, keep your beverage with you at all times.
How is the law enforcement response in these high-crime cities in New Jersey?
Law enforcement agencies in these cities are aware of the high crime rates and are working diligently to combat crime and ensure public safety.
Many cities, like Camden, are even being viewed as models for police reform. However, due to the high population density and the sheer volume of incidents, response times can vary.
Are there any initiatives or programs in place to reduce crime in these cities?
Yes, many of these cities have initiatives in place to reduce crime. These can include community policing strategies, youth outreach programs, and efforts to address underlying issues like poverty and education that contribute to crime.
For example, Camden has seen a significant decrease in crime rates in recent years, in part due to its comprehensive police reform efforts.
Are these crime rates consistent throughout the entire city, or are there specific neighborhoods that are more dangerous?
Crime rates can vary significantly within a city, and it’s often specific neighborhoods that account for a disproportionate amount of crime.
While we’ve provided city-wide statistics, it’s important to research specific neighborhoods when considering safety. Even in cities with high crime rates, there can be safe, vibrant neighborhoods.
How does New Jersey’s crime rate compare to other states in the U.S.?
New Jersey’s crime rate is higher than the national average, largely due to its high population density and urbanization.
However, crime rates can vary significantly from one city or region to another within the state. It’s also worth noting that New Jersey has made significant strides in reducing crime over the past few decades.
In conclusion, while New Jersey is home to some vibrant cities and charming small towns, it also has its share of dangerous areas.
The cities listed above have higher-than-average crime rates, making them places to approach with caution. However, it’s important to remember that these statistics don’t define these cities entirely.
Many of them are home to hardworking communities and dedicated law enforcement agencies striving to make improvements and ensure safety for all residents.
Moreover, crime rates can vary significantly within a city, and there are often safe, vibrant neighborhoods even within cities with high overall crime rates. Therefore, it’s crucial to do thorough research before deciding to relocate or visit.