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Most Dangerous Cities in California

most dangerous cities in california

When you are buying a home or deciding where to visit in California, safety needs to be a primary consideration.

The state is home to many of the nation’s largest cities. So it’s important to understand which areas have the highest crime rates. To help you make an informed decision, I’ve compiled a list of the most dangerous cities in California.

Biggest Crimes in California

California is a state that has gained notoriety for its high crime rates, with several high-profile cases involving celebrities. And incidents of police brutality making headlines over the years.

However, it’s worth noting that crime rates here are mostly concentrated around three major areas: property crime, drug crimes, and violent crimes such as homicide. Plus, while the majority of Californians do not engage in criminal activity, those who do, face severe consequences from local law enforcement agencies.

most dangerous cities in california

Serial killers…

The issue of serial killers in California is a particularly disturbing aspect of the state’s history with crime. Over the years, several notorious cases have shaken the state, with perpetrators like Timothy Joseph McGhee, Angelo Anthony Buono Jr., Wayne Adam Ford, Chester Turner, William Bonin, and Charles Ng making headlines for their heinous crimes.

These individuals targeted innocent victims based on factors such as gender or age. McGhee and Bonin killed mainly young men. Turner went after women exclusively and even videotaped some of his murders as a sick form of entertainment. And Ng earned recognition for multiple killings throughout the U.S., not only in California.

Buono’s claim to infamy was torturing drugged women with partner Kenneth Bianchi, whom many consider an independent serial killer in his own right. The severity and brutality of their actions have left an indelible mark on the state’s history and collective memory.

But it’s not all doom and gloom…

Fortunately, law enforcement agencies were able to apprehend all six of these serial killers and bring them to justice. However, it’s worth highlighting that not all were punished equally. Some have been released on parole, while others remain behind bars serving out their sentences.

Moreover, despite progress made in catching these criminals, California still faces challenges related to public safety. As such, it’s crucial that the state continues to implement measures aimed at preventing crime and protecting its citizens from harm. By doing so, it can work towards creating safer communities where residents can live without fear of violence or victimization.

On to what you’re really here to find out…

The Top Most Dangerous Cities in California

Here are some of the most dangerous California cities, according to crime data.


Oakland is home to the biggest population in Alameda County. And a popular destination for many with its vibrant automotive industry, advanced infrastructure, and bustling cultural activities. However, this Bay Area city comes at quite a price-of-living cost.


Everything from gas prices to groceries is above average…

While some areas of the city may be relatively safer, there is no denying that Oakland’s crime rate is higher than most cities in California.

On top of that, 16.74% of Oakland’s population lives below the poverty line, with an unemployment rate of 3.4%. So, for those wanting to live nearby San Francisco without draining their wallet, do keep an eye out for safety warnings. Oakland might not be worth the risk.


Sitting on the Andreas Fault line, Stockton is famously one of the top dangerous cities in California, with 4,380 reported violent crimes and a shockingly high 1,397 per 100,000 people. On top of this, an unsettling percentage of crime is theft, such as the act of stealing bags, wallets, and passports.

It’s clear…

There is an urgent need for safety and security. Especially when considering the poverty rate at 22.4% paired with their 5.60% unemployment rate. Despite its perilous state, Stockton still preserves certain safe areas and is a marvel when it comes to its rich cultural diversity. Armstrong, Bear Creek, and Gillis are some safer areas that are worth your consideration if you’re planning a stay in Stockton.

But pack light, and make sure your passport is safe!

San Bernardino 

San Bernardino may have a population of over 216,000, and its residents may be friendly people. But with a violent crime rate of 1,318 per 100,000 and an overall poverty rate of 25.99%, it’s no wonder why this California city is considered one of the most dangerous in the state. With 46 murders, 140 rapes, 906 robberies, and 1,766 aggravated assaults each year, many don’t feel comfortable stepping out at night.

Fortunately, there are a few safe havens within the city, such as Arrowhead Springs, Patton, and Victoria, where citizens can go to feel they are in a secure environment.


Although its residents must remain vigilant to ongoing crime in Modesto, it has much else to offer. Despite having one of the highest reported violent crime rates in the US, with 812 violent crimes per 100,000 people, Modesto boasts a plethora of exciting attractions and plenty of outdoor activities for visitors and locals.

It is home to some of the state’s most vibrant wildlife habitats, scenic landscapes, and numerous top-rated vineyards. This charming city enjoys sun almost year-round, giving everyone an insight into the beauty that California has to offer.

But still…

If you’re traveling through Modesto, rather stay in groups. And, if possible, stay away from smaller side streets and keep your wits about you.

Signal Hill

Signal Hill may be just a pocket-sized city, but what it lacks in size, it more than makes up for in charm and culture. If you’re looking for the perfect combination of urban living and suburban-style calm, look no further – you’ve found it! 

Nestled along the California coastline and blanketed by Long Beach City, it’s literally a beachside paradise that many hip young artists are making their home. And although prices may be high (lookin’ at you, rent!), you can rest easy knowing that at least quality education is available through public and private institutions. 

It’s not perfect, though…

Poverty rates are high. Unemployment is worse, and your chances of becoming a victim of violent crime in Signal Hill are 1 in 14. But hey – if you’re feeling lucky, why not visit Signal Hill and its beaches with a large group? Just don’t carry valuables on you, and be vigilant about what’s going on around you. 


Compton, one of the oldest cities in California, is located south of downtown Los Angeles and has a population of 96,638. While Compton hosts a diverse mix of cultures, gang wars, and violence have created a reality where an unfortunately high number of violent crimes occur each year!

What kind of number are we talking about?

Reported statistics show an astounding 1,104 reported violent crimes per year, with a rate of 1,142 per 100K people. Approximately 18 murders, 40 rapes, 427 robberies, and 619 aggravated assaults have been registered over the course of the past 12 months. Making Compton one of the more dangerous corners of the Golden State

Fortunately, life in LA isn’t all death and dismay. Improvements to public safety have been made over recent years, but this doesn’t mean visitors can relax their vigilance when traveling here. So, if you’re keen on visiting Compton, it’s best to bring your cautious head along for the ride!


Discover the hidden charms of Richmond, the lovely city situated in Contra Costa County. Boasting a population of 110,988 people, there’s no shortage of warmth and friendly neighborhoods here. But also bear in mind that there are 1,034 reported violent crimes annually. 16 murders, 36 rapes, 307 robberies, and 675 aggravated assaults were reported last year alone.

Equating to a violent crime rate of 931 per 100k!

So, if you plan on settling down in this sun-kissed Californian city, it’s worth arming yourself with some knowledge to stay safe. After all, you wouldn’t want your visit marred by the chance of falling victim to violence, which stands at one in 17.



Thinking of relocating to Marysville, California?

Think again!

This quaint small city may look peaceful on the outside, but with a violent crime rate of 10.98 per 1,000 residents, it’s one of the poorer performing cities in Northern California.

Unfortunately, this isn’t where the bad news ends. Marysville also has a property crime rate of 41.50 per 1,000 people and an overall poverty rate of almost 20%. The unemployment rate isn’t much better either – at 9.7%. Leaving job seekers few options in their hunt for employment.

Crescent City’s

Despite its tranquil atmosphere and stunning views of the ocean, Crescent City’s population of 6673 shouldn’t lull you into a false sense of security. There is an 11.99 per 1000 rate of violent crime and a 44.36 per 1000 rate of property crime. A full 79 percent higher than the national average!

What kind of crimes exactly?

Common crimes run the gamut from theft, larceny, and burglary on the property side, to rape, assault, and murder as far as violence is concerned. 

Thankfully, citizens can put their minds at ease in the south side of town, where it’s considered safer. Despite all this worrying, though, with only a 4.3% overall poverty rate and 8.30% unemployment rate, it’s nearly impossible not to be drawn to Crescent City’s splendid views. Aa well as its unbeatable small-town feel!


Quite simply, Barstow is an alarming place to be situated at. With a population of just 25,415 and the property crime rate being 36.63 per 1,000 residents, this city has earned itself a name within the county for its double-digit violent crime rate, which stands at 10.82 per 1,000 residents.

The drug culture within the city isn’t helping either…

As poverty rates settle in at a staggering 35.3% overall. While unemployment rates remain steady at 7.8%. It can be quite dangerous to be alone in Barstow. Burglaries, robberies, theft, and assaults are some of the common nasty crimes here.

So, if ever you find yourself wandering around this city after dusk, do everyone a favor and keep an entourage with you for safety precautions!


Welcome to the city of Commerce, located in Los Angeles County and recognized as one of the most dangerous cities in California. With a population of 12,378 and a crime rate of 10.99 violent crimes per 1000 residents. Plus 86.69 property crimes per 1000 residents, anyone venturing into this area needs to have their wits about them!

How do Commerce residents handle it?

Well, taking preventative measures like carrying defense tools or devices with you and installing safety measures in your home could be the difference between you being a victim and staying safe.

It must be noted that poverty has an influence on crime, too – with a 14.8% overall poverty rate and a 10.90% unemployment rate. So, in a way, it’s no surprise that Commerce has such high crime rates.

But the point is, if you’re passing through Commerce, stay alert, and stay safe!

Next up, three dangerous but not inhospitable California cities to mention…


The city of Susanville in Lassen County is a charming but relatively unknown mid-sized city. While it may have its risks, it also offers comfort in a friendly environment and lots of job opportunities. However, delving into the statistics shows an overall violent crime rate of 8.37 per 1000 and a property crime rate of 13.69 per 1000.

Bittersweet; we’re on the fence…

Even with its poverty rate at 18.90%, the people here remain hospitable. And the southeast part has particularly earned its reputation as being far less dangerous than the rest of the town.

So, if you are looking for a tight-knit community to call home while having your safety intact, Susanville could be just right for you! As long as you get to know the locals and educate yourself about specific streets to avoid. 



While Lancaster often falls off the radar when talking about California cities, it still holds a charming, historic presence. With its natural beauty, clean air, and warm climate, you would think that Lancaster wouldn’t be one of the more dangerous cities in the state. But public opinion-wise, it has earned itself a bit of an unsavory reputation.

However, with proactive movements and law enforcement initiatives in place to help curb crime rates, perhaps Lancaster, too, can someday be known for all its charm and beauty. Rather than its notorious crime rate.


Vallejo, California, is surely one of the more dangerous cities in the state of California. However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a wonderful place to live. Despite its high crime rate, Vallejo is home to an overabundance of parks and fun outdoor activities like hiking, boating, and swimming.

There’s also plenty of history and culture to explore if you’re looking for something a bit different. With its Mediterranean weather and vibrant seaside spirit, Vallejo is sure to offer many wonderful memories if you choose to visit or live here.

How to Keep Safe in California Cities?

Living in a city can be exciting, but it’s important to take precautions to ensure your safety. Here are some ways to keep yourself safe in cities in California, or anywhere really:

Be aware of your surroundings

Pay attention to what’s happening around you at all times. Avoid using headphones or being engrossed in your phone while walking on the street.

Use well-lit and busy streets

Stick to well-lit and peopled streets when possible, especially at night. Avoid dark alleys or isolated areas where there are fewer people around.

Use transportation safely

If you’re using public transportation, wait for it in well-lit areas and avoid standing alone on platforms or bus stops.

Keep valuables hidden

Your valuables, such as wallets, phones, and jewelry, should all be kept hidden from plain sight when walking on the street.

Travel with friends

It’s always safer to travel with friends when possible, especially at night or in unfamiliar neighborhoods.

Travel with friends

Trust your instincts

If something feels off or dangerous, trust your gut and leave the area immediately.

Learn self-defense techniques

Consider taking self-defense classes to learn how to protect yourself physically, if needed.

California is Not All Bad

If you are considering relocating to California and just doing your due diligence and checking what areas to avoid, you may also be interested in the Cheapest Places to Live in CaliforniaHow to Get a Work Permit in California, or LinkedIn Cold Messages: How to Reach Out About a Job in California.

Or maybe check out the Richest Cities in California!

And if you’re simply here for a thrilling read?

Well then!

Find out all about the 10 Most Dangerous States in the US, then the 10 Most Dangerous Cities in the US, the top Most Dangerous Neighborhoods in NYC, the Most Dangerous Cities in Florida, and the 10 Most Dangerous Neighborhoods in Chicago, overall.

OK, back to today’s Californian city crime report

Final Thoughts

California is a beautiful state, but like most places, it has its fair share of dangerous cities. From Lancaster and Vallejo to Barstow and Commerce, the crime rate in these cities can be alarming.

But with proactive law enforcement initiatives and preventative measures like carrying defensive tools or devices, citizens can still enjoy all that California has to offer. While taking reasonable precautions.

Ultimately, it’s important to stay aware of your surroundings and remember that safety should always be the top priority. So, if you’re venturing into one of California’s more dangerous cities, make sure to stay alert and take the necessary steps to keep yourself and your loved ones safe.

Happy California city hopping!

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