12 Most Dangerous Cities In California To Avoid In 2023

California, the Golden State is known for its excellent weather, picturesque locales, amazing people, and many more. But every state has merits and demerits. And California is no exception. There are both pros and cons of living In California. Not all the cities in this state are safe and sound.

There are cities with huge crime rates and they are termed the most dangerous cities in California. Depending on the social and economic condition of a city, the danger quotient of the most unsafe cities in California varies.

Most dangerous cities in California

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If you are planning to move to California and looking for affordable places to live in California or you wish to know places to retire in California, you must also be aware of what are the most dangerous cities in the Golden State.

From high crime rates to safety concerns, this article explores the most dangerous cities in California that you should be cautious of. Learn about the statistics, contributing factors, and safety tips to help you stay informed and protected.

1. Oakland

  • Population: 440,046
  • Violent Crime Rate: 12.96 per 1000 residents
  • Property Crime Rate: 52.10 per 1000 residents
  • Poverty Rate: 16.74% overall poverty rate
  • Unemployment Rate: 3.40%

The largest city of Alameda County, Oakland is one of the most dangerous places in California. A popular trade center in San Francisco Bay Area, Oakland is a happening place to live in. With a growing automotive industry and advanced infrastructure, Oakland certainly offers a great standard of living.

The cost of living is very expensive in this city. From utility prices to transportation costs, everything is priced at a higher rate than the national average. However, even with great opportunities and bustling city life, Oakland is not entirely safe.

There are some safe neighborhoods in the city, but crime rates have only been rising over the past few years. The chances of property crimes are 1 in 15 while violent crime rates are 1 in 77. With a huge population, Oakland is a major city in California and falls under the category of top dangerous cities in California.

Apart from the increasing crime rates, Oakland has beautiful, soothing weather, plenty of good restaurants, and a well-planned public transportation system. If you plan to move to Oakland consider safe areas like Redwood Heights, Cleveland Heights, Grand Lake, Rockridge, etc. Make sure to roam in crowded streets, with proper light if you are wandering alone at night.

2. Anaheim

  • Population: 350,998
  • Violent Crime Rate: 2,082
  • Property Crime Rate: 6,701
  • Poverty Rate: 17%
  • Unemployment Rate: 3.50%

As the second-largest city in California, Anaheim has been identified as one of the cities with higher rates of crime in the state. The city is famous for the Disneyland Resort, which includes Disney-themed rides, hotels, restaurants, and shops. It also houses pro sports teams, including hockey and baseball.

Young professionals and families looking to save money while still enjoying the excellent California weather and major city facilities are drawn to this citrus industry metropolis. With these, the city offers many opportunities for those who live there and those who visit as tourists.

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However, the city is among the most expensive in the state and the United States. Moreover, there is a 1 in 281 chance that someone may be the victim of a violent crime such as an armed robbery, an aggravated assault, a rape, or a murder. Additionally, a significant portion of the crime in Anaheim involves property crime.

In terms of safety, Anaheim is in the 19th percentile. It means that 81% of the city region is safer, with 19% being riskier. Anaheim’s northeastern part is typically considered the safest among locals. If you plan to visit the city, staying alert to the southeast region is better. However, with plenty of opportunities, the city is still quite an attraction for visitors.


3. Stockton

  • Population: 320,804
  • Violent Crime Rate: 12.62  per 1000 residents
  • Property Crime Rate: 30.82 per 1000 residents
  • Poverty Rate: 22.4% overall poverty rate
  • Unemployment Rate: 5.60%

If you are planning to move to the northern part of the state and want to know what are the most dangerous cities in Northern California, then Stockton is one of them. With the majority of the population being between their 20’s and mid 30’s, Stockton is a lively place. Youngsters are plenty in Stockton because of the various activities, presence of live music, and good food options. The diverse demographic of the city is certainly an attraction among the youth.

Located in San Joaquin County, Stockton is the 13th largest city. Commutation in this city is mostly done by private cars. Almost all residents own a car and that is the most preferred way of traveling.

However, the crime rate is quite high in this city. There is a 1 in 23  chance of becoming a victim of violent crime. But be aware of your passports, wallets, and bags because the chances of getting theft are quite high. The population is extremely diverse and rich, from African, Asian, German, Spanish, and English, all communities are found here.

Apart from being a dangerous city in California, Stockton is earthquake-prone too as it is situated on the Andreas Fault line. Some of the safe areas of Stockton are Armstrong, Bear Creek, and Gillis which are at the east and west of downtown.

4. Susanville

  • Population: 16,728
  • Violent Crime Rate: 8.37  per 1000 residents
  • Property Crime Rate: 13.69 per 1000 residents
  • Poverty Rate: 18.90% overall poverty rate
  • Unemployment Rate: 6.6%

Located in Lassen County, Susanville is just beside Susan River. Although Susanville has a lesser population than other cities in California and is a mid-sized city, it is recognized under the category of the most violent city in California.

The crime rate in Susanville is higher than in the rest of the cities. However, the southeast part of the city is far more dangerous than the rest of the city. Since the city is not densely populated, crimes take place in areas with fewer people.

However, if you want to get the feel of community living, Susanville is definitely worth considering. The people are welcoming and friendly and people do get a variety of options for employment as well.

Most Dangerous Cities In California_Susanville

5. Signal Hill

  • Population: 11,848
  • Violent Crime Rate: 7.95 per 1000 residents
  • Property Crime Rate: 63.65 per 1000 residents
  • Poverty Rate: 16.44 % overall poverty rate
  • Unemployment Rate: 10.08%

Signal Hill, a small city consisting of four neighborhoods, has been identified as one of the more dangerous cities in Southern California. While it is surrounded by the beautiful city of Long Beach, Signal Hill can still be a risky place to live or visit. However, the city offers a unique blend of urban and suburban vibes and has a pleasant climate throughout most of the year.

This compact city is a great place for artists and a lot of the residents work in the media. Signal Hill also offers superior quality of education and has many public and private academic institutions. However, the cost of living in this city is quite high as real estate prices are expensive.

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Even with such a small population, the city is not safe. Mostly young adults are seen in the city. The chance of becoming a victim of violent crime is 1 in 14.

6. San Bernardino

  • Population: 222,101
  • Violent Crime Rate: 14.93 per 1000 residents
  • Property Crime Rate: 28.16 per 1000 residents
  • Poverty Rate: 25.99 % overall poverty rate
  • Unemployment Rate: 4.30%

With a crime rate that is 3 times higher than the national average, San Bernardino is another dangerous city to live in California. The chances of becoming a violent victim in this city are 1 in 86. Theft and robbery are also commonly found crimes in this city.

The city is a mix of homely places with lovely people, serene communities as well as places with crimes, violence, and hostility. Residents of San Bernardino prefer not to step out at night due to safety issues. Some of the safe neighborhoods are Arrowhead Springs, Patton, and Victoria.

San Bernardino
San Bernardino

7. Compton

  • Population: 95,740
  • Violent Crime Rate: 11.78 per 1000 residents
  • Property Crime Rate:  23.79 per 1000 residents
  • Poverty Rate: 23.0 % overall poverty rate
  • Unemployment Rate: 6.60%

Compton ranks as having the highest crime rate in California. Seated in the south of downtown Los Angeles, Compton is also one of the oldest cities. With an ethically diverse population, Compton has a majority of lower-class communities.

The city is infamous for gang wars and violence and ghettos are seen in this part of California. Since the era of 90s, Compton’s crime rate has been on the higher side. Although residents feel that there has been an improvement in the overall situation, it is not entirely safe. Considered a dangerous city in Los Angeles walking or driving at night is still a scary situation in Compton.

8. Crescent City

  • Population: 6673
  • Violent Crime Rate: 11.99 per 1000 residents
  • Property Crime Rate: 44.36 per 1000 residents
  • Poverty Rate: 4.3% overall poverty rate
  • Unemployment Rate: 8.30%

Crescent City is another city that consists of dangerous neighborhoods in California. This small coastal California city is a very good option for a nature lover. Also, if you are looking for a place that is quiet, and has a homely feeling, then Crescent City is an option to explore.

However, despite being a small town, the city experiences a 79% higher crime rate than the national average. Theft, larceny, and burglary are the three most common property crimes while rape, assault, and murder are some of the most common violent crimes.

People usually prefer to stay in the south part of the city as it is considered safer than the other parts.

9. Richmond

  • Population: 116,448
  • Violent Crime Rate: 9.26per 1000 residents
  • Property Crime Rate: 32.31 per 1000 residents
  • Poverty Rate: 14.7 overall poverty rate
  • Unemployment Rate: 3.80%

Another most dangerous city in California is Richmond. Situated in Contra Costa County, Richmond is a medium-sized city. With an increased crime rate, one can categorize it as the worst city in California.

Larceny, vehicle theft, and murder are commonly found in this city. Apart from the crime rates, the city has friendly neighborhoods, and a warm climate throughout the year which makes it a good place in California to settle down.

However, be aware of your belongings and keep yourself safe as the chance of falling a victim to violence is one in 17. Exploring the city at late night is never a good option unless you are with a bunch of other people.

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10. Marysville

  • Population: 12,844
  • Violent Crime Rate: 10.98 per 1000 residents
  • Property Crime Rate: 41.50 per 1000 residents
  • Poverty Rate: 19.7% overall poverty rate
  • Unemployment Rate: 9.7%

If you are looking for the best city to live in Northern California and you are planning on Marysville, then you might want to reconsider the option once. A small city in the Gold County, Marysville is an affordable city with quiet surroundings.

Even with less population, the city ranks high in crime rate. The chance of becoming a victim is one in 19. Job opportunities are very less in this city and education is not of superior quality.

worst cities in California_Marysville

11. Barstow

  • Population: 25,415
  • Violent Crime Rate: 10.82 per 1000 residents
  • Property Crime Rate: 36.63 per 1000 residents
  • Poverty Rate: 35.3% overall poverty rate
  • Unemployment Rate: 7.8%

Barstow, a city situated in San Bernardino County is among the top dangerous cities in California. The crime rate in Barstow is 123% higher than the national average. The gang and drug culture of the city is one of the major reasons for it becoming an unsafe place.

Burglary, robbery, theft, and assault are some of the common crimes of Barstow. The city has a lesser population and most places are not crowded enough. It is best to be accompanied by someone at night if you are wondering.

Due to a lack of employment opportunities and proper education facilities, the population is not growing in the area. Hence the number of drug and alcohol users has increased and made this city dangerous.

12. Commerce

  • Population: 12,378
  • Violent Crime Rate: 10.99 per 1000 residents
  • Property Crime Rate: 86.69 per 1000 residents
  • Poverty Rate: 14.8% overall poverty rate
  • Unemployment Rate: 10.90%

Ranked as the third most dangerous city in California, Commerce is a part of Los Angeles County. Residents of Commerce have a chance of becoming a victim of property or violent crime one in 11 chances.

Residents and visitors are always at risk of property or violent crime. To be safe, it is important to carry necessary safety equipment and also to install safety measures to prevent such crimes. Due to the high poverty rate in the city, it experiences a higher crime rate as well.

Final Words

California is undoubtedly the place of your dream. With so many growing cities in California, ample job opportunities, and a great standard of living, California is always on everyone’s bucket list. However, California is not just expensive, there are plenty of dangerous cities in California.

So, do not just look at the beautiful beach towns in California but also look at these unsafe cities before making a decision. This curated list of the most dangerous cities in California will help you to make an informed decision and to choose a safe city for you and your family.

Read Next:

FAQ – Most Dangerous Cities in California

1. What city is the safest in California?

Ans– Danville, Thousand Oaks, and Moorpark are some of the safest cities in California.

2. Which one is safer? NorCal or SoCal?

Ans– SoCal or Southern California is safer than NorCal as per reports.

3. Is California safe for senior citizens or retirees?

Ans– California has many safe cities around the state and the improved lifestyle, and plenty of health care benefits make this state a perfect stay for senior citizens or retirees.

4. What neighborhoods should you avoid in San Diego?

Ans– Mission Valley, East Village, Marina, and Oak Park are some of the neighborhoods you should avoid in San Diego.

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  1. Thanks for this information. Hope the info is regularly updated.

  2. Susan ville says:

    You guys are genius. I hope the article is up to date.

  3. Steve Fitzgerald says:

    Worked in downtown Oakland, night shift for 30 years. Cities aren’t dangerous, people are. Be aware of your surroundings, if it looks like trouble it probably is, stay away from dimly lit-off the main road areas, don’t disrespect people and lastly, there’s no need to take a 0230 stroll around town. You can increase your odds of not being involved in a violent incident by keeping your head on a swivel. There are many wonderful residents in Oakland and the weather is great. Just be smart about your travels and leisure outings.

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