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10 Most Dangerous Cities In Washington 2024: Shadowy Corners

most dangerous cities in WA

Alright, we have put together a list of the top ten most perilous cities in Washington as of 2024. Now, why did I spend time on this? My aim is to aid you in navigating these risky territories when you’re deciding which city should be your home. To create this list, I studied both violent and property crimes in cities boasting populations of 5,000 or more. This process left me considering 116 cities.

The level of danger I’m referring to here makes headlines on KOMO 4 at six. Let me tell you, the cities that landed on my list have daylight robberies, carjackings, and frequent shootings. There exist neighborhoods within these cities that one should never traverse, and areas that are especially unsafe when night falls.

I’m not stating that these Washington cities are devoid of safe pockets. There are districts and shopping centers striving to improve conditions. And the blame for these precarious cities doesn’t lie entirely with Washington. It’s the 13th most populous state. As is usually the case, there are bound to be issues with such a large population.

To get an idea of where these problematic Washington cities are situated, the ones having more troubles than The Olympian, have a look at my findings on the most dangerous cities in The Evergreen State for 2024.

Washington’s Top 10 Most Riskiest Places

10. Lakewood

Lakewood

Nestled on Tacoma’s southwestern edge, Lakewood ranks as the tenth most dangerous city in Washington, with high instances of car theft and violent crime.

In Lakewood, Washington, one of the most horrific crimes that occurred was the murder of four police officers in 2009. Maurice Clemmons, a man with a lengthy criminal record, walked into a coffee shop and shot four Lakewood Police Department officers who were preparing for their shift. The officers were Sergeant Mark Renninger, and Officers Ronald Owens, Tina Griswold, and Greg Richards.

  • Population: 61,432
  • Rank Last Year: 8 (Down 2)
  • Violent Crimes Per 100k: 620 (Eighth most dangerous)
  • Property Crimes Per 100k: 4,264 (17th most dangerous)

9. Shelton

Shelton, located on Puget Sound’s westernmost edge, ranks high on the list due to a mix of property and violent crimes. With high unemployment and poverty rates, crime was the deciding factor for its ranking.

  • Population: 10,749
  • Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 3)
  • Violent Crimes Per 100k: 455 (13th most dangerous)
  • Property Crimes Per 100k: 4,809 (11th most dangerous)

8. SeaTac

SeaTac Airport, WA

Home to the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, SeaTac is plagued by crime, with robberies and car thefts being particularly common.

In SeaTac, Washington, a particularly horrific crime occurred in 2017 when a Burien woman was kidnapped, raped, and murdered. The victim, who was a mother of four, was abducted from her workplace, a convenience store. The crime was particularly shocking due to its brutality and the fact that it occurred in a public place.

The perpetrator, Israel Ramos-Islas, was later arrested and charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping, and rape. The crime highlighted the need for increased security measures in public places and sparked a conversation about violence against women.

  • Population: 29,282
  • Rank Last Year: 13 (Up 5)
  • Violent Crimes Per 100k: 481 (11th most dangerous)
  • Property Crimes Per 100k: 4,760 (12th most dangerous)

7. Union Gap

In the 1880s, a large part of what is now known as Union Gap left town. Not just the people. Whole buildings were loaded onto rollers and moved north, to keep up with a changed railroad route. Over time, that new town became Yakima — these days located about 10 minutes down the road. The leftovers eventually got the name Union Gap.

  • Population: 6,206
  • Rank Last Year: 19 (Up 12)
  • Violent Crimes Per 100k: 370 (18th most dangerous)
  • Property Crimes Per 100k: 6,155 (Third most dangerous)

6. Spokane

Spokane WA

As the state’s second most populous city, Spokane is also its sixth most dangerous. There are indeed safe neighborhoods, but some areas need significant improvement. In 2020, a resident of Spokane had a 1 in 19 chance of being a victim of property crime.

  • Population: 223,524
  • Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 1)
  • Violent Crimes Per 100k: 599 (Ninth most dangerous)
  • Property Crimes Per 100k: 5,151 (Ninth most dangerous)

5. Seattle

SEATTLE Aerial

Despite its serene view from the Space Needle, Seattle’s crime rates tell a different story. It’s not the city where you want to leave your doors unlocked, with the second highest burglary rate statewide. Not to mention the alarming 4,911 car thefts recorded in 2020. Additionally, the city witnessed the seventh highest violent crime rate statewide.

In a tragic incident that shook the community, a Seattle mother was discovered lifeless, leading to the apprehension of a suspect who now confronts grave charges of murder. 

  • Population: 771,517
  • Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 2)
  • Violent Crimes Per 100k: 626 (Seventh most dangerous)
  • Property Crimes Per 100k: 4,872 (Tenth most dangerous)

4. Toppenish

Toppenish WA

Situated in the Yakama Indian Reservation, Toppenish ranks as the fourth most dangerous place to live in Washington. Its small population amplifies each crime’s impact, resulting in the state’s second-highest murder rate with just 2 homicides in 2020. The city also witnessed the highest burglary rate in the state.

  • Population: 8,792
  • Rank Last Year: 4 (No Change)
  • Violent Crimes Per 100k: 648 (Sixth most dangerous)
  • Property Crimes Per 100k: 5,516 (Seventh most dangerous)

3. Tacoma

Tacoma WA

Dubbed one of the nation’s “most walkable cities” in 2006, Tacoma locals may beg to differ due to high crime rates. A solo stroll at Point Defiance Park could be fraught with risk. The city recorded the second highest violent crime rate in the state, with residents having a 1 in 118 chance of being assaulted in 2020. Violent crime in Tacoma is nearly triple the national average. So, stay alert in the City of Destiny, or else you may face a grim fate.

  • Population: 220,123
  • Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
  • Violent Crimes Per 100k: 843 (Second most dangerous)
  • Property Crimes Per 100k: 5,507 (Eighth most dangerous)

2. Tukwila

Tukwila

Once again, Tukwila finds itself on our list of Washington’s most dangerous places. The reason is clear, with an overall crime rate almost seven times higher than the national average. In 2020, a Tukwila resident had a 1 in 6 chance of being a property crime victim, which includes a staggering 530 car thefts and 222 burglaries.

The city also ranked third in rape cases statewide. Although a day at Crystal Springs Park might be enjoyable, make sure you have company and return home before dark.

  • Population: 20,483
  • Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 1)
  • Violent Crimes Per 100k: 737 (Third most dangerous)
  • Property Crimes Per 100k: 14,416 (Most dangerous)

1. Fife

Fife Wa

A suburb of Tacoma, Fife, is first on the list, plagued by a significant crime issue. One must be extra vigilant after a successful casino night, given Fife had the second-highest property crime rate statewide. Compounding the issue, Fife is also no stranger to violent crime, recording 4 homicides in 2020, the highest murder rate in Washington for a city of 10,301 residents. If you’re hunting for Tacoma’s safest suburbs, Fife should not be on your radar.

  • Population: 10,301
  • Rank Last Year: 2 (Up 1)
  • Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,378 (Most dangerous)
  • Property Crimes Per 100k: 8,746 (Second most dangerous)

Most Horrific Crimes That Ever Happened In Washington

The state of Washington has seen its share of horrific crimes over the years. One of the most notorious was the serial murders committed by Ted Bundy between 1973 and 1978. Bundy, who began his killing spree in Washington, was convicted of 30 murders, 11 of which took place in the state. His reign of terror ended with his arrest in 1978 and subsequent execution in 1989.

Another chilling crime was the Wah Mee Massacre in 1983, where 13 people were shot and killed during a robbery at the Wah Mee gambling club in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District. This remains one of the deadliest mass shootings in Washington’s history.

The state also witnessed the infamous D.B. Cooper case in 1971, where an unidentified man hijacked a Boeing 727 aircraft between Seattle and Portland, demanded a ransom, and then parachuted out of the plane, never to be found. This case remains one of the few unsolved cases of aircraft hijacking in the history of commercial aviation.

Lastly, the state was terrorized by another serial killer, Gary Ridgway, also known as the Green River Killer, who was convicted of 49 murders during the 1980s and 1990s. The victims’ bodies were often dumped at locations around Washington, notably at the Green River and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

5 Safety Tips 

One: Don’t Draw Attention

Never draw attention to yourself in busy public places by flashing money, expensive electronics, jewelry, or other valuables.

Also, you want to blend as best as possible, which means wearing inconspicuous clothing not to draw attention from nefarious characters and scam artists.  

Two: Keep Friends and Family Updated

Regardless if you plan to explore Seattle or venture into the wilderness for a few days, always keep your friends and family updated on your whereabouts by checking in daily.

Also, providing them with your daily itinerary, hotel accommodations, and flight numbers is crucial.  

Three: Be Aware of Public Wi-Fi

Be wary of public Wi-Fi in one of Washington’s many towns and cities.

In such a technology-driven place, it’s common for hackers to steal sensitive information from unsuspecting residents or visitors.

So while public Wi-Fi is acceptable for general browsing, don’t access any apps or websites requiring your password.

Four: Check-in with Park Rangers

Washington is a vast wilderness of pine trees, lakes, mountains, and rivers outside of towns and cities.

If you plan to visit the state for camping or multi-day hiking trips, it’s critical to check in with the local rangers station so they know your plan in case of an incident.

Visitors and residents always go missing and become victims of the wilderness.

Five: Pack Accordingly 

If you plan to hike to the top of one of the many mountains, bringing a guide is always advisable.

However, get the correct clothing and gear if you make the trip alone.

The weather at the top of mountains can change instantly, so you must be prepared for variable conditions.

Also, bringing plenty of sunscreens, water, and a first-aid kit is critical since the wilderness is unpredictable.

FAQ

What factors contribute to a city being considered dangerous in Washington?

The level of danger in a city is primarily determined by its crime rates, both violent and property crimes. Violent crimes include offenses like murder, rape, robbery, and assault, while property crimes involve burglary, theft, and motor vehicle theft.

Cities with higher rates of these crimes are generally considered more dangerous. Other factors that can contribute to a city’s danger level include its population size, economic conditions, and social issues.

How has the crime rate changed over the years?

Crime rates in Washington’s most dangerous cities have fluctuated over the years. For instance, in Tukwila, the overall crime rate is almost seven times higher than the national average. In Tacoma, the violent crime rate is nearly triple the national average.

However, it’s important to note that these rates can vary year by year and are influenced by a variety of factors, including law enforcement efforts, socioeconomic conditions, and population changes.

What measures are being taken to improve safety in these cities?

Various measures are being taken to improve safety in Washington’s most dangerous cities. These include increased law enforcement presence, community policing initiatives, crime prevention programs, and efforts to address underlying social issues that contribute to crime, such as poverty and lack of education.

Additionally, some cities are investing in urban renewal projects and social services to improve living conditions and reduce crime.

What precautions should residents and visitors take?

In cities with high crime rates, it’s important to be vigilant and take precautions to protect yourself and your property. This can include avoiding certain areas, especially at night, keeping your home and vehicle secure, being aware of your surroundings, and not displaying valuable items in public.

It’s also recommended to stay informed about local crime trends and to report any suspicious activity to the police.

Are there safe neighborhoods within these dangerous cities?

Yes, even in cities with high overall crime rates, there can be neighborhoods that are relatively safe. It’s important to research specific neighborhoods when considering where to live or visit within a city.

Local police departments, real estate websites, and community resources can provide information about crime rates in specific neighborhoods.

How do Washington’s crime rates compare to other states?

As of 2024, Washington’s violent crime rate is 14% lower than the national rate, while its property crime rate is 62% higher. This indicates that while the state has fewer violent crimes than the national average, property crimes such as theft and burglary are more common. However, these rates can vary significantly from city to city within the state.

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