10 Most Dangerous Cities in Iowa

Updated On October 10, 2023

Iowa has gained recognition as the ‘Food Capital of the World’ due to its diverse agricultural production.

Also known as Hawkeye State, Iowa boasts a rich Native American history and breathtaking natural beauty.

However, it also ranks 36th most violent state, with a crime happening here, on average, every 5 minutes.

With a population of 3.2 million, Iowa is ranked as the 15th safest state in the U.S.  and has a crime rate of 250.1 per 100,000 people.

On this note, let’s look at the 10 most dangerous cities in Iowa.

Most Dangerous Cities in Iowa

Keokuk, Iowa
Keokuk, Iowa


On average, a crime takes place every 18 hours and 35 minutes in Keokuk.

The city has been given a D+ grade for its crime rate, with the crime rate here being 38.84 per 1,000 residents.

According to residents, the northern part of the city is the safest, with one’s chance of becoming the victim of a crime is 1 in 45, compared to 1 in 11 in the southeastern neighborhoods.

Keokuk also ranks second in property crime, with a 1 in 15 chance of falling victim to theft.

Council Bluffs, Iowa
Council Bluffs, Iowa

Council Bluffs

In terms of safety, Council Bluffs falls in the 38th percentile, and the city has received a C- crime grade, indicating that crime rates here are slightly higher than in other cities throughout the country.

The annual crime rate in Council Bluffs is 32.04 per 1,000 people, with residents regarding the southeastern part of the city as the safest area.

Council Bluffs has the highest rate of violent crime and the third-highest rate of murder in Iowa, with the chance of becoming the victim of a violent crime being 1 in 126.

Property crime is also significant in the area, with a 1 in 12 chance of experiencing theft or burglary.

According to residents, the southeastern neighborhoods are the safest part of the city.

Ottumwa, Iowa
Ottumwa, Iowa


Ottumwa has a high rate of property crime, with one’s chance of becoming a victim being 1 in 24.

Comparably, violent crimes are significantly lower, with one’s chance of becoming a victim being roughly 1 in 120.

Ottumwa has one of the highest motor vehicle theft rates in the country, with the chance of having your car stolen being one in 309.

The city ranks in the 24th percentile for safety, with residents regarding the northeast part of the city as the safest.

The chance of becoming the victim of a crime can range from 1 in 14 in the western neighborhoods to as low as 1 in 47 in the northeast neighborhoods.

Des Moines, Iowa
Des Moines, Iowa

Des Moines

Being the largest city in the state, it’s no surprise that Des Moines is in the 58th percentile for safety, which means that only 42% of metro areas are safer than here.

The city has a high crime rate of 2.25 per 1000 residents and has earned a crime grade of B- due to the fact that, on average, a crime occurs in this city every 36 minutes.

Des Moines also records an annual rate of about  2.25 violent crimes per 1,000 people, with residents considering the northern part of the city to be the safest.

On the east side of town, the risk of becoming a victim of violent crime could be as high as 1 in 257, compared to 1 in 826 on the north side.

Mason City, Iowa
Mason City, Iowa

Mason City

Over the past few years, the population of Mason City has decreased by several thousand people, while incidents of crime have been consistently increasing.

Violent crimes like assault and larceny are shockingly frequent here, earning this town the sixth spot in Iowa’s list of places with the highest rate of violent crimes.

Mason City has a high crime rate of 32 per 1000 residents, with the likelihood of experiencing violent or property crime here being as high as 1 in 32.

According to residents and statistics, the safest part of town is the south side, with one’s chance of being victimized here going down from 1 in 12 in the central neighborhoods, to 1 in 44.

Sioux City, Iowa
Sioux City, Iowa

Sioux City

With a population of 86,730 residents, Sioux City falls within the 14th percentile, making it less safe than 86% of cities across the country.

The rate of crime in Sioux City is 53.91 per 1000 residents, with residents commonly regard the northeast section of the city as the safest.

Depending on the neighborhood, the likelihood of experiencing crime in Sioux City can vary significantly.

For instance, the probability of becoming a victim of crime in the northwest neighborhoods can be as high as 1 in 9, while the northeast region has a lower risk, with a probability of 1 in 35.

Sioux City has a high rate of property offenses, such as burglary or motor vehicle theft, with one’s chance of experiencing a property crime being 1 in 34.

Indianola, Iowa
Indianola, Iowa


With a population of 16,148, Indianola has a crime index of 19, indicating that it is safer than 19% of cities nationwide.

On average, a crime occurs here every 20 hours and 30 minutes, earning this city a crime grade of B- due to the fact that it has a slightly lower rate of violent crime than the rest of the country.

As far as property crime is concerned, Indianola’s rate stands at 17 per 1000 residents, which is higher than the rate of the average U.S. city.

According to residents, the northwest part of the city is considered the safest, with the chance of becoming a victim of a crime being as low as 1 in 706, compared to 1 in 305 in the central neighborhoods.

Fort Dodge, Iowa
Fort Dodge, Iowa

Fort Dodge

With a population of 24,769, Fort Dodge falls within the 18th percentile for safety and has the highest murder rate in the state.

In a standard year, Fort Dodge’s crime rate is 46.68 per 1000 inhabitants, with residents regarding the northern neighborhoods of the city as the safest.

Depending on the area of the city, the probability of experiencing crime in Fort Dodge can range from 1 in 13 in the central neighborhoods to 1 in 37 in the northern part.

On average, a crime occurs here every 6 hours and 51 minutes, earning Fort Dodge an overall crime grade of D, due to the fact that it has a higher crime rate than most cities nationwide.

Waterloo, Iowa
Waterloo, Iowa


With a crime index of 10 out of 100, Waterloo has a crime rate of  29.58 per 1000 residents.

The city has received an overall crime grade of C, which indicates that its crime rate is somewhat higher than the national average.

Residents generally consider the southwest part of the city to be the safest.

Your chance of being a victim of crime in Waterloo may be as high as 1 in 22 in the central neighborhoods, or as low as 1 in 57 in the southwest part of the city.

Fort Madison, Iowa
Fort Madison, Iowa

Fort Madison

On average, a crime occurs here every 21 hours, earning this city an overall crime grade of C-.

Fort Madison‘s rate of violent crime is one of the highest amongst cities of a similar size and population, with one’s chance of becoming the victim of a crime like rape, murder, manslaughter, assault, or armed robbery being as high as 1 in 143.

This city also has a high rate of property crime, such as burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft, and arson.

The chance of becoming the victim of one of these crimes is 1 in 143.

Safety Tips for Traveling to Iowa

  1. Make sure to lock your car and motel room whenever you leave, to avoid allowing petty criminals to steal your property.
  2. It’s important to stay updated on weather forecasts, particularly during certain seasons. Winter snow and spring storms can bring sudden and unexpected weather events, such as tornadoes, so monitoring weather reports can help you avoid potential danger.
  3. Avoid going out alone at night, as criminals tend to look for easy targets in isolated areas.
  4. Try to blend in and avoid looking like a tourist, as criminals tend to target those who are unfamiliar with the area. Dress like a local and avoid wearing flashy jewelry or carrying expensive electronics in public.
  5. Keep your loved ones informed of your whereabouts, especially if you plan to venture into rural or wilderness areas. Also, let them know when you plan to get back.

Iowa Safety Overview

READ THE FULL REPORT: Iowa Safety Review

Safety Index:

Frequently Asked Questions

What weather should I expect?

Iowa experiences four distinct seasons, with summer being generally pleasant with warm temperatures.

However, winters can be severe with low temperatures and snow, so it’s important to dress warmly.

Spring and fall are enjoyable seasons with moderate temperatures and low rainfall.

Should I get travel insurance?

Travel insurance provides a safety net in case of unexpected events, even in safe states like Iowa.

Iowa State University offers international travelers health insurance while visiting the state, but domestic travelers can also benefit from the peace of mind it provides.

Do foreign visitors need a visa?

Foreign travelers need a visa or passport to enter the US but not to enter Iowa.

4 Comments on 10 Most Dangerous Cities in Iowa

  1. A
    Anonymous says:

    I live in Oregon, and I just purchased a home in Iowa. I rent it and will be moving there in a couple years when I retire. Reading this has made me think I’ve made a big mistake. The more I look at crime in iows, the less I want to move there. Ouch.

    1. A
      Anonymous says:

      yall cant just look at the worst also look at the best. choose the better ones. just think where you live. choose a safer town.

    2. a
      annomous says:

      Look at safer cities not just the dangerous ones!!

    3. A
      Anonymous says:

      I’ve lived in Sioix City for 18 years. I’m not sure where they’re getting this data from. It’s a very safe place to live. It’s very kid friendly as well. They are some very racist white people here however, they’re non factors. The cost of living has risen tremendously but that’s everywhere. When I was moving here 18 years ago I did some research and they were saying the gangs were bad here. It kinda made me second guess my decision. I got here and was like what gangs? Just got some wanna be kids who think they are hardcore. We do her some people from other states moving here trying to holla hang stuff but when they see nobody is on that type of stuff here they subside with the nonsense. I say come see for yourself. Don’t listen to people or studies. Had I listened I would have not came here. I’ve raised well rounded successful children in safety. I hate to think what would have happened if I let people scare me from coming here and I had to raise my children in Chicago

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