Utah, known for controversies related to polygamy and unlicensed alcohol stores, has its fair share of high-risk areas too.
RoadSnacks has created a list of the most perilous places in Utah for 2024, aiming to keep the public informed. How was this done? By diving into data.
We analyzed 60 cities, examining the FBI’s recent crime report for statistics on violent and property crime in all areas with more than 5,000 inhabitants. Utah’s total violent and property crime figures, despite being higher than the national average, could be improved in its most unsafe regions.
Many Utah residents might argue that their part of this western state is idyllic, but that’s far from reality for those inhabiting Utah’s most hazardous areas. In these spots, high crime rates aren’t the only problem — they’re also plagued by unemployment, low income, and a lack of rehabilitation services.
This is particularly alarming considering Utah is the country’s sixth richest state. Should the state reconsider their income and sales tax to address these issues? We can’t say for sure, but we do know that the wealth doesn’t seem to be trickling down past Utah’s top cities.
Curious about where in Utah jobs are few, salaries are low, and crime rates are high? Read on.
Let’s get one thing straight, we’re not referring to the risk associated with snowboarding in Park City without a helmet. The danger we’re discussing is the kind that lands people on Salt Lake City’s KUTV at six. Our listed cities suffer from daylight robberies, auto thefts, and regular shootings. There are districts in these cities that should always be avoided.
So, which is Utah’s riskiest location? The answer is South Salt Lake.
The Top 10 Most Riskiest Areas To Reside In Utah
Tooele could possibly mean “tumbleweed” in the language of the local Ute tribe. Regardless of its meaning, what’s clear are the stunning mountain views from this north-central Utah community, situated about 45 minutes from Salt Lake City.
While the potential tumbleweed connection hints at a Wild West past, some of this seems to persist in modern crime statistics. Tooele has a serious violent crime issue, ranking tenth in the state for such incidents. The area also has a high number of arsons and burglaries for its population of 36,527.
- General Livability Index 8 /10
- Population: 36,527
- Last Year’s Rank: 13 (Up 3)
- Violent Crimes Per 100k: 292 (Tenth most dangerous)
- Property Crimes Per 100k: 2,231 (17th most dangerous)
9. Park City
Park City, situated just 30 miles southeast of downtown Salt Lake City, is a charming, creative community and one of the main venues for the Sundance Film Festival.
Despite its charm, Park City has seen a considerable increase in crime over the last few years. In 2020, people had a 1 in 332 chance of experiencing a violent attack, roughly three times higher than a few years ago.
Property crime also increased after a slight decrease last year. However, most of these crimes were larceny, so vigilance with your personal belongings should keep you safe.
In Park City, the most horrific crime was the murder of a woman named Uta von Schwedler in 2011. Her ex-husband, John Brickman Wall, was later convicted of her murder. The case was particularly shocking because Wall was a pediatrician and the crime involved a bitter custody dispute over their children.
- General Livability Index 8 /10
- Population: 8,632
- Last Year’s Rank: 4 (Down 5)
- Violent Crimes Per 100k: 301 (Ninth most dangerous)
- Property Crimes Per 100k: 2,849 (11th most dangerous)
Returning to the Ogden area, we find Riverdale, the eighth least safe place to reside in Utah. Despite being 8th on this list, Riverdale actually recorded the sixth highest overall crime rate in Utah, more than double the national average.
This is primarily due to Riverdale having the sixth highest property crime rate in the state, with residents facing a 1 in 22 chance of experiencing theft or vandalism in 2020.
On the positive side, only two violent crimes were committed per month in Riverdale, on average. And to distract yourself from the high property crime rate, a round of golf is always an option.
- General Livability Index 7 /10
- Population: 8,876
- Last Year’s Rank: 8 (No Change)
- Violent Crimes Per 100k: 270 (12th most dangerous)
- Property Crimes Per 100k: 4,382 (Sixth most dangerous)
Moab, the smallest city on this list, has become a sought-after tourist hotspot for mountain bikers, off-roaders, and hikers keen to explore Arches National Park. However, the city’s crime rate has grown alarmingly.
While property crime decreased slightly over the last reporting year, violent crime increased significantly. As a result, residents faced a 1 in 114 chance of a violent attack in 2020, the third highest rate in Utah.
Regrettably, much of this violence is due to Moab having the highest rate of sexual assault cases in Utah.
Horrific crime occurred in 2021 when a newlywed couple, Kylen Schulte and Crystal Turner, were found shot to death at their campsite. The case drew national attention and remains unsolved, adding to the tragedy and horror of the crime.
- General Livability Index 4 /10
- Population: 5,362
- Last Year’s Rank: 7 (No Change)
- Violent Crimes Per 100k: 876 (Third most dangerous)
- Property Crimes Per 100k: 2,778 (12th most dangerous)
In 2010, Forbes dubbed Ogden the 6th best place to raise a family in the United States.
This accolade is surprising given Ogden’s dismal crime statistics. Ogden had the fifth highest burglary rate in Utah in 2020, and there was nearly a car theft every day of the year. The only hope is that criminals don’t decide to steal a plane from the Hill Aerospace Museum.
However, Ogden’s families can take solace in the fact that there’s 83% less violent crime and 100% less property crime than in South Salt Lake.
- General Livability Index 6 /10
- Population: 88,309
- Last Year’s Rank: 5 (Down 1)
- Violent Crimes Per 100k: 505 (Sixth most dangerous)
- Property Crimes Per 100k: 3,300 (Eighth most dangerous)
5. West Valley
Utah’s second-largest city, West Valley, is the fifth most precarious place to live in the state.
West Valley residents must deal with the fifth highest violent crime rate in Utah. This includes the 15th highest rate of sexual assault cases and the tenth highest homicide rate in the state — about one murder monthly.
Perhaps the Hale Centre Theatre could put on “Crime and Punishment” to help educate residents about the repercussions of crime.
Fortunately, property crime in West Valley has seen a slight decrease since last year.
Most horrific crime was the murder of six-year-old Sierra Newbold in 2012. Sierra was abducted from her home, sexually assaulted, and then drowned in a nearby canal. Her body was found hours after she was reported missing. The crime shocked the community and led to increased efforts to improve child safety in the area.
- Population: 135,887
- Last Year’s Rank: 6 (Up 1)
- Violent Crimes Per 100k: 528 (Fifth most dangerous)
- Property Crimes Per 100k: 3,329 (Seventh most dangerous)
Situated just south of Salt Lake City, Murray is the fourth most dangerous place to live in Utah for 2022. With the third highest property crime rate in the state, residents faced a 1 in 15 chance of being robbed or having their property damaged over 2020.
It suggests you may want to secure your belongings before heading to Murray City Park, and certainly lock your doors — on average, Murray sees more than one burglary and one car theft daily.
Violent crime is also a concern here, with Murray recording the 16th highest rate of sexual assault cases in Utah.
- General Livability Index 8 /10
- Population: 49,169
- Last Year’s Rank: 3 (Down 1)
- Violent Crimes Per 100k: 482 (Seventh most dangerous)
- Property Crimes Per 100k: 6,652 (Third most dangerous)
Traveling away from the capital region, we find Roosevelt, the third most perilous city in Utah. The past year witnessed a shocking increase in violent crime in Roosevelt, while property crime remained stable.
This creates a significant challenge for the Roosevelt Police Department tasked with protecting residents from a 1 in 150 chance of violent attack. This includes the second highest rate of sexual assault cases in the state.
To put it into perspective, consider that South Salt Lake reported the same number of sexual assault cases, despite having a population three times larger.
In Roosevelt, one of the most shocking crimes was the murder of a young woman named Loretta Jones in 1970. The 23-year-old mother was found brutally murdered in her home, and her 4-year-old daughter was the one who discovered her body.
The case went unsolved for decades until 2016, when a man named Thomas Edward Egley was arrested and charged with her murder. Egley, who was 76 at the time of his arrest, had been a prime suspect in the case early on but was not charged due to lack of evidence.
- General Livability Index 6 /10
- Population: 7,359
- Last Year’s Rank: 9 (Up 6)
- Violent Crimes Per 100k: 665 (Fourth most dangerous)
- Property Crimes Per 100k: 4,389 (Fifth most dangerous)
2. Salt Lake City
As the most populated and capital city of Utah, Salt Lake City unfortunately also ranks second in terms of crime. While the natural beauty of Big Cottonwood Canyon offers an escape, the city’s streets are less peaceful.
In 2020, Salt Lake City recorded the second highest violent crime rate, documenting 1,865 such crimes. These included a monthly homicide and a daily theft on average.
Security is a must here, as Salt Lake City experienced the second highest burglary rate statewide. Also, ensure your vehicle is secure or you might join the 2,192 residents who had their cars stolen that year.
Still, by avoiding Salt Lake City’s high-risk neighborhoods, you can significantly enhance your safety.
- General Livability Index 6 /10
- Population: 202,187
- Last Year’s Rank: 2 (No Change)
- Violent Crimes Per 100k: 922 (Second most dangerous)
- Property Crimes Per 100k: 7,352 (Second most dangerous)
1. South Salt Lake
South Salt Lake, sadly, ranks as the riskiest city in Utah, outdoing even the capital for the prime position. The rate of property crime hasn’t seen much change from last year, although the incidence of violent crime has seen a substantial decrease.
However, South Salt Lake continues to be Utah’s most violent locale, with inhabitants facing a 1 in 103 likelihood of falling victim to assault, theft, sexual assault, or murder in 2020. This underscores the importance of maintaining vigilance when enjoying South Salt Lake’s parks.
Furthermore, South Salt Lake experiences the most property crime statewide, including the top burglary rate in Utah, with approximately five instances occurring weekly.
- General Livability Index 5 /10
- Population: 25,816
- Last Year’s Rank: 1 (No Change)
- Violent Crimes Per 100k: 964 (Most dangerous)
- Property Crimes Per 100k: 9,203 (Most dangerous)
The Most Horrific Crime in Utah’s History: The Hi-Fi Murders
The most horrific crime in Utah’s history is undoubtedly the Hi-Fi Murders, which took place in Ogden, Utah, in 1974. This gruesome crime involved the brutal torture and murder of three people during a robbery at the Hi-Fi Shop, a home audio store.
The perpetrators, Dale Pierre and William Andrews, were both U.S. Airmen stationed at Hill Air Force Base in northern Utah. They tortured their victims in unthinkable ways before killing them, making this crime one of the most horrific in Utah’s history. The case was so shocking that it continues to be discussed and analyzed decades later.
The FBI releases two sets of crime data annually: a preliminary dataset for the country’s largest cities, followed by a more comprehensive report at the end of the year. For our analysis, we used the most recent data available, the 2020 Crime In The United States Report. We plan to update our findings when the new data is released in September 2022.
Our criteria for this analysis included:
- Violent Crimes Per Capita
- Property Crimes Per Capita
To ensure a fair comparison, we only considered Utah cities with a population over 5,000, resulting in a list of 60 cities.
Each city was then ranked from 1 to 60 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”.
Finally, we ranked every city based on the “Dangerous Index”, with the city having the lowest index (South Salt Lake) being deemed the most dangerous in Utah. In case of ties, the smaller city was ranked higher. The data used for this analysis can be downloaded here.
What is the overall crime rate in Utah?
According to the 2020 Crime In The United States Report by the FBI, Utah has a violent crime rate of 2.61 per 1,000 residents and a property crime rate of 22.35 per 1,000 residents. This means that residents have a 1 in 383 chance of becoming a victim of a violent crime and a 1 in 45 chance of becoming a victim of a property crime in Utah.
How is the crime rate in Utah compared to the national average?
Compared to the national median, Utah has a lower violent crime rate (2.61 per 1,000 residents in Utah vs. 4 per 1,000 residents nationally) but a higher property crime rate (22.35 per 1,000 residents in Utah vs. 19 per 1,000 residents nationally).
How is crime rate calculated?
Crime rates are calculated by dividing the number of reported crimes by the total population of a city, and then multiplying the result by 100,000 to get the number of crimes per 100,000 people. This allows for a fair comparison of crime rates between cities of different sizes.
What types of crimes are most common?
Property crimes, including burglary and theft, are the most common types of crimes in Utah. However, violent crimes such as assault and sexual assault are also significant concerns in some cities.
How has the crime rate in Utah changed over the years?
The crime rate in Utah has fluctuated over the years. According to the 2020 Crime In The United States Report by the FBI, Utah has seen a decrease in the violent crime rate but an increase in the property crime rate compared to previous years.
What factors contribute to high crime rates in Utah cities?
Several factors contribute to high crime rates in Utah cities. These include socioeconomic factors such as poverty and unemployment, as well as issues related to education and community resources. High crime areas often lack sufficient resources for crime prevention and rehabilitation services.
What can residents do to stay safe in high-crime areas?
Residents can take several steps to stay safe in high-crime areas. These include staying aware of their surroundings, especially at night, securing their homes and vehicles, participating in local community watch programs, and reporting any suspicious activity to local law enforcement.
What are the chances of becoming a victim of a violent crime in Utah?
In Utah, the chances of becoming a victim of a violent crime are 1 in 383. This includes crimes such as murder, rape, robbery, and assault.
What are the chances of becoming a victim of property crime?
The chances of becoming a victim of property crime in Utah are 1 in 45. Property crimes include burglary, theft, and motor vehicle theft.
Which city has the highest burglary rate?
South Salt Lake has the highest burglary rate in Utah. It also has the highest rate of property crimes in the state.
Which city in Utah has the highest rate of sexual assault cases?
Moab has the highest rate of sexual assault cases in Utah. Despite being the smallest city on the list, it has seen a significant increase in violent crime, including sexual assault.
What is the crime rate per square mile?
The crime rate per square mile in Utah is 36, which is higher than the national median of 26.8.
What are some of the safest cities in Utah?
Some of the safest cities in Utah include Wallsburg, Plymouth, Paradise, Montezuma Creek, and Huntsville. These cities have low crime rates compared to other cities in the state.
In conclusion, while Utah is known for its natural beauty and high standard of living, it also has areas that struggle with high crime rates. South Salt Lake, Salt Lake City, and Roosevelt top the list of the most dangerous cities in the state, with high rates of both violent and property crimes.
These areas, along with others on the list, face significant challenges in terms of crime prevention and community safety.
However, it’s important to note that crime rates can vary greatly within cities, and living in one of these cities does not necessarily mean you will be a victim of crime. Many factors contribute to crime, including socioeconomic conditions, education, and access to community resources.
It’s also crucial to remember that there are many safe and peaceful communities in Utah.