10 Most Dangerous Cities in California

Updated On October 10, 2023

The Golden State is well-known worldwide for beautiful year-round weather, picturesque locations, excellent outdoor activities, amazing people, world-class food, and celebrities!

Living in California has many pros and cons, with high crime in some areas being a leading drawback.

Some cities have high crime rates that put them on the list of the most dangerous locations in the state.

Many of these issues are attributed to the economic and social condition of the city.

If you plan to visit or relocate to California, it’s critical to understand places to avoid. Keep reading to learn more!

10 Most Dangerous Cities in California

Oakland, California
Oakland, California

One: Oakland

At the top of the most dangerous cities in California list is Oakland.

With a population of 440,000, Oakland is the largest city in Alameda County and a popular trade center in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The advanced infrastructure and automotive industries are growing in the area, so Oakland is a less expensive option compared to San Fransisco and Silicon Valley, although still expensive.

Despite its revitalization in recent years, Oakland continues to have crime-ridden areas.

The chance of becoming the victim of a violent crime is 1 in 77, and the likelihood of property crime is 1 in 15, so theft is a significant problem in the city.

The poverty rate is 16.74%, which has decreased drastically recently.

Stockton, California
Stockton, California

Two: Stockton

Stockton may be a location to skip if you want to relocate or visit the state’s northern section.

Although most of the population is in their 20s and 30s, the violent crime rate is 12.62 incidences per 1,000 people, and the property crime rate is 30.82 per 1,000 individuals, with a 22.4% poverty rate.

Stock is a lively place with excellent food options, live music, and various activities that attract the youth.

However, visitors and residents have a 1 in 23 chance of becoming violent crime victims, with theft being the most common crime.

Additionally, Stockton is earthquake-prone since it sits on the Andreas Fault Line.

Susanville, California
Susanville, California

Three: Susanville

Susanville is a small town in Lassen County with a population of 16,700.

While Susanville has a lower population than most others on this list, it’s one of the most violent, with 8.37 incidences per 1,000 residents.

Property crimes are lower than in many other cities at 13.69 per 1,000 people, and the poverty rate is 18.90%.

Most of the crimes are concentrated in the city’s southeastern section, where fewer people reside.

Signal Hill, California
Signal Hill, California

Four: Signal Hill

Signal Hill is a tiny city with a population of 11,800 and only four neighborhoods.

Surrounded by the stunning Long Beach City, Signal Hill is one of the most dangerous places in Southern California, with a mix of suburban and urban vibes.

Like most of SoCal, the weather is pleasant year-round; this compact city is incredibly walkable, with many residents working in the media industry.

Education is top-notch, but the cost of living is quite expensive.

Even with these primarily positive attributes, the probability of being the victim of a violent crime is 1 in 14.

The violent crime rate is 7.93 incidences per 1,000 individuals, the property crime rate is 62.63 per 1,000 residents, and the overall poverty rate is 16.45%.

San Bernardino, California
San Bernardino, California

Five: San Bernardino

Two hundred twenty-two thousand residents call San Bernardino home, and the city’s crime rate is three times higher than the national average.

The chances of becoming the victim of a violent crime are 1 in 86, with robbery and theft being the two most common crime types.

San Bernardino is a mix of beautiful homes and communities with sections of hostility, violence, and crime.

Residents of most areas don’t venture out at night because of safety problems.

The safest neighborhoods include Victoria, Patton, and Arrowhead Springs.

With a poverty rate of more than double the national average of 26%, violent crime is 14.93, and property crime is 28.16 per 1,000 individuals.

Compton, California
Compton, California

Six: Compton

With a population of 95,700, Compton has been well-known for years for having a high crime rate due to the gang wars and other violence that plague its streets.

South of downtown Los Angeles, Compton is one of the area’s oldest cities.

The ethnically diverse population is comprised mainly of lower-class neighborhoods.

Since the early 1990s, Compton’s crime rate has fallen on the high side.

While residents have experienced an improvement in recent years, it’s still not completely safe.

Walking and even driving through Compton at night is a scary situation. 

The violent crime rate is 11.78 while the property crime rate is 23.79 incidences per 1,000 individuals, and the overall poverty rate is 23.0%.

Crescent City, California
Crescent City, California

Seven: Crescent City

Another location that’s consistently on the most dangerous list is Crescent City, which has only 6,600 residents.

As a small coastal town, Crescent City is an excellent spot for outdoor activities and nature lovers.

Also, Crescent City is a good option if you’re searching for a quiet destination with a homely feeling.

Although it’s a small town, the city has one major downside, a 79% higher crime rate than the national average.

Burglary, robbery, and theft are the most common property crimes, with murder, assault, and rape being the most common violent crimes.

Visitors tend to stay in the southern section of the area, which is considered much safer than other neighborhoods.

Crescent City experiences 11.99 violent crimes per 1,000 people, 44.36 property crimes per 1,000 individuals, and a 4.3% poverty rate, which is incredibly low.

Richmond, California
Richmond, California

Eight: Richmond

With a population of 116,400 residents, Richmond is another city that should be avoided in California.

In Contra Costa County near San Fransisco, Richmond falls victim to murder, vehicle theft, and robbery.

In addition, 1 in 17 individuals is a victim of a violent crime, so walking around the city at night is never a good idea.

The violent crime rate is 9.26 per 1,000 individuals, while the property crime rate is 32.31 per 1,000 people, with a 14.7% poverty rate.

Marysville, California
Marysville, California

Nine: Marysville

Number nine on the list is Marysville, a Northern California town with a tiny population of just 12,800 residents.

Situated in Gold County, this city offers excellent affordability and quiet surroundings with a slower pace of life.

Despite the low population, the city has a high crime rating where people have a 1 in 19 chance of becoming the victim of a crime.

The educational facilities are of poor quality, with few job opportunities.

Marysville has a violent crime rate of 10.98 incidences per 1,000 residents, a property crime rate of 41.50 per 1,000 individuals, and a poverty rate of 19.7%.

Barstow, California
Barstow, California

Ten: Barstow

Rounding out this top ten list is Barstow, a city located in San Bernardino County.

With a crime rate of 123% higher than the national average, Barstow is a haven for drug and gang culture, the leading reason for its safety issues.

Assault, theft, robbery, and burglary are the most common crimes in the city.

With a population of only 25,400, visitors and residents should walk in pairs or groups at night.

The main driver for such high crime is a lack of proper education facilities and few employment choices.

The violent crime rate is 10.82 per 1,000 residents, property crime is 36.63 per 1,000 individuals, and the overall poverty rate is 35.3%.

5 Safety Tips for Traveling to California

One: Be Vigilant in Crowded Places

Overcrowded cities like San Fransisco and Los Angeles are a haven for pickpockets and scam artists.

While tourist attractions have an excellent police presence, pickpockets operate unnoticed and are skilled at grabbing items from open bags, wallets, and phones from back pockets.

Therefore, women should keep handbags on the front of their bodies, while men should keep wallets in their front pockets.

Two: Register with Local Park Rangers

If you head into the mountains for a day or several days, always let the park ranger’s station know where you’re headed and how long.

Also, check back in with them at the end of the trip so they know there weren’t any issues.

Some areas don’t have cell phone service, so the rangers must know your intentions.

Three: Safeguard your Hotel

While hotels typically have good security, never leave valuables lying around in the hotel room.

If you have large sums of cash or expensive jewelry, use the hotel’s safe for storage, especially if a cleaning service is required.

Four: Don’t Stick Out

Avoid being the person that looks like a tourist with a fanny pack and other traveler gear.

Instead, look at how the locals are dressed and try to blend in to avoid unwanted attention.

Five: Be Aware of Nearby Neighborhoods

In many large cities, the neighborhoods turn over fast.

One minute you’re in a crowded but safe tourist area; the next, you’re in an undesirable location.

This is applicable when walking around or when driving in large cities.

Carjackings occur on unsuspecting tourists who leave the freeway in the wrong place.

California Safety Overview

READ THE FULL REPORT: California Safety Review

Safety Index:

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the safest cities in California?

Six California cities were recently rated as the safest in the U.S. and, therefore, safest in the state, including Sunnyvale, West Covina, Jurupa Valley, El Monte, Rancho Cucamonga, and Glendale.

What are the most common violent crimes in California?

Aggravated assaults were 67% of the violent crimes, 24% of robberies, 8% rapes, and 1% of homicides.

What are the biggest safety risks in California?

While crime is somewhat of an issue in California, depending on your location, natural disasters are much more of a threat due to the severity of the situation.

Earthquakes and tremors are common across the state due to the Andreas Fault Line that runs down the middle of the state.

This can bring building collapse, rioting, looting, violence, flooding, and residual issues.

If hiking in the mountains, sunburn, if not protected, is a problem, and wildlife is dangerous.

Severe drought plagues Southern California for several months yearly, leading to wildfires.

3 Comments on 10 Most Dangerous Cities in California

  1. A
    Aries Terry says:

    There are so many dangerous places in Cali that everyone should avoid but also, it’s best to be alert at all times when going into different cities or places, not just in California.

  2. D
    Davina Barker says:

    It’s important to know these things before going to California, I am living here and I don’t know much about this just like this. Thank you for putting this up!

  3. A
    Anna Ronalds says:

    Been living in Oakland and the people here are so nice but of course, there are people who want to do bad things just to earn money so everybody should be careful.

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