10 Most Dangerous Cities in Kentucky

Updated On October 10, 2023

Like most states, Kentucky often makes the news for the wrong reasons.

The Bluegrass State is a beautiful place to live, with plenty of outdoor and cultural activities that cannot be found elsewhere.

In addition, Kentucky boasts a lower-than-average crime rate, with half the crime of neighboring states and 1.5 fewer violent incidences than the U.S.

Kentucky has a 2.2 per 1,000 residents violent crime rate. In contrast, the U.S. has 3.6 per 1,000 individuals.

While the statistics are promising, that doesn’t mean all cities, towns, and neighborhoods are safe.

If you plan to visit or relocate to Kentucky, keep reading to learn more about the ten most dangerous cities in the Bluegrass State!

10 Most Dangerous Cities in Kentucky

Ashland, Kentucky

10. Ashland

Starting list at number ten is Ashland, which has only around 20,000 residents.

Although the city is small, the violent crime rate is relatively high at 2.9 incidences per 1,000 residents.

The area experiences higher-than-average poverty rates, so the property crime rate is slightly higher than most other cities of comparable size at 36.6 crimes per 1,000 people.

In addition, the population of Ashland has declined over the last decade, contributing to increased poverty.

Winchester, Kentucky

9. Winchester

With a population of around 18,600, Winchester has a high property crime rate of 44.2 crimes per 1,000 residents but a lower violent crime rate of 2.4 reported incidences per 1,000 people.

Although the poverty rate isn’t incredibly low, there isn’t much to do in this small town, so the younger people can get into trouble.

Many residents drive to Lexington to seek entertainment, as there are few businesses and restaurants downtown Winchester.

Bowling Green
Bowling Green, Kentucky

8. Bowling Green

Although Bowling Green is home to one of Kentucky’s most quaint and charming Main Streets, you must be careful in this southern Kentucky city.

Physical safety is a concern, with a violent crime rate of 2.9 crimes per 1,000 individuals.

However, the city faces more significant property crime issues, with a rate of 46.7 incidences per 1,000 residents.

The town is known for having a more urban feel with a higher population density without the extremely violent crime of other cities.

The poverty rate is high, which likely explains the higher-than-average property crime rate.

Shively, Kentucky

7. Shively

As a popular spot along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, Shively is a Louisville suburb that experiences its fair share of violent incidences.

With a low property crime rate of 33.5 crimes per 1,000 people, the entire town is prone to crime.

Few safe neighborhoods exist in Shively unless you live decently far from town.

For instance, the northeastern section of the town has 82 crimes per year compared to the southeastern section, which only sees eight incidences per year.

The violent crime rate was 3.4 crimes per 1,000.

Oak Grove
Oak Grove, Kentucky

6. Oak Grove

As a popular destination for outdoor recreation, Oak Grove isn’t immune to crime, as it has experienced equal violent and property crime rates in recent years.

This doesn’t mean it’s not a safe place to visit or live compared to others on this list, as the education system is excellent with a low teacher-to-student ratio.

With just 7,300 residents, Oak Grove experienced a violent crime rate of 3.3 per 1,000 residents.

Covington, Kentucky

5. Covington

Just across the Ohio River from Cincinnati is Covington, a location with a high violent crime rate but low property crime.

This means a higher chance of being assaulted than a theft victim.

This suburb is densely packed, which could contribute to the higher crime rates.

Most residents rent instead of own, despite reasonable housing prospects compared to the distance to a major city.

Two of the greatest city issues are homelessness and poverty, which could also contribute to the high violent crime rates.

The property crime rate in Covington is 29.1, whereas the violent crime rate is 4.7 per 1,000 residents.

Paducah, Kentucky

4. Paducah

Although Paducah is one of the best day-trip destinations to learn about Bluegrass, it’s fourth on this list.

With a population of around 24,000 residents, the violent crime rate is average at 2.9 incidences per 1,000 people, but property crime is incredibly high at 52.6 crimes per 1,000 individuals.

This means residents and visitors are more likely to be involved in a property crime incident than a violent one.

Part of the reason for such high property crime numbers is the high poverty rate of 17.2%, above the U.S. average.

Pikeville, Kentucky

3. Pikeville

Pikeville or Mayfield often interchange between the second and third most dangerous cities in Kentucky since their statistics are similar.

Pikeville is a tiny town of just under 7,000, and most crimes occur in an even smaller area within city limits.

The town boasts a violent crime rate compared to most American cities, with murder incredibly rare.

It is high on this list because assaults occur at a rate of 1.0 incidents per 1,000 people, which is a lot for such a small town.

Mayfield, Kentucky

2. Mayfield

Although second on this list, Mayfield is considered a safe location compared to the top spot.

However, since it’s the second most dangerous city in the state with a violent crime rate of 4.1, Mayfield is only safer than 5% of other U.S. cities.

The violent crime rate is 2.7, most of which are assaults, and this statistic also comprises several murders each year.

With just under 10,000 residents, these are high crime rates.

With Cartwright Grove in the town’s borders, a re-creation of an 1880s old west town, visitors may feel like they’re in the Wild West with the crime rates.

Louisville, Kentucky

1. Louisville

Number one on this list of most dangerous cities in Kentucky is Louisville.

With a violent crime rate of 6.9 incidences per 1,000 residents, this number is double the state’s average.

While higher crime rates are expected in larger population centers, poverty is also higher in Louisville, which causes more crime.

Sadly, Louisville is only 4% safer than other cities.

Property crime is almost double the state and national average.

Resident’s and visitor’s chances of being victims of a property crime is 1 in 27 in the city.

5 Safety Tips for Traveling to Kentucky

Kentucky is a southern gem of a state, and despite the high crime rates in some areas, visitors and residents can enjoy the culture without incident.

When traveling to or living in Kentucky, you can remain as safe as possible by following these five tips:

1. Don’t Draw Attention

Those who look like they are from out of town are more vulnerable to crime everywhere.

That means you must try to blend with the local population by wearing inconspicuous clothing, being discrete when looking at maps, and carefully approaching others when asking for directions.

Also, if you’re planning to head to a crowded tourist area or event, like the Kentucky Derby, wear protective gear that makes pickpocketing more difficult.

2. Research the Area

If you’re planning to visit the highest crime city in the state, Louisville, know your destination before arriving.

This means reading traveler reviews regarding the safest areas to stay and checking the State Department’s website for updates.

Also, note the nearest police station and other local emergency departments once you have determined to lodge.

3. Be Aware of your Surroundings

Never drop your vigilance to get a nice photo for social media.

Be aware of your personal belongings and use good judgment when speaking with strangers.

A significant joy of travel is the chance to meet locals and learn more about their culture, but if someone is acting suspiciously or you have a bad feeling, leave the area.

4. Be Aware of Outdoor Dangers

Kentucky has a variety of wildlife in the mountains and flatland areas, some of which are dangerous.

If you’re visiting the state for hiking and camping opportunities, be aware that poisonous snakes and reptiles can be found in the forest with larger animals like bears.

Before heading into the woods, ensure you know what to do if you encounter these creatures to avoid becoming a victim.

5. Pack Accordingly

While Kentucky enjoys mild weather in the winter, summers can be brutally hot and humid.

This means insects will be prevalent in the forest, and you must pack plenty of water before a hike or camping outing.

In addition, always bring sunscreen, bug spray, a medical kit when venturing out, and a hat, hiking boots, shorts, pants, and other weather-appropriate clothing.

Kentucky Safety Overview

READ THE FULL REPORT: Kentucky Safety Review

Safety Index:

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the poorest place in Kentucky?

Among cities with over 25,000, Richmond is the poorest location in the state.

With a median household income of $39,300, Richmond is significantly less than the state median household income of $52,200.

What is the safest city in Kentucky?

Located in Pulaski County, Somerset is Kentucky’s safest community with a 1.08 safety score, comprised of just 23 violent crimes per year.

What natural disasters occur in Kentucky?

Kentucky is prone to plenty of natural disasters, including drought, extreme temperatures, floods, forest fires, sinkholes, hail, tornados, landslides, and earthquakes, although most are insignificant.

7 Comments on 10 Most Dangerous Cities in Kentucky

  1. M
    Max Parker says:

    All with a disproportionately higher Black population!

  2. P
    Pj bowman says:

    If the would have stuffer penalties on juveniles and also on their parents you would see a decline. All the get is a slap on the hand if that. Adults are driving juveniles around to steal cars and break in homes. This is out of control. Wake up.

  3. E
    Ezequiel Cole says:

    Wow, I never thought Kentucky would have dangerous cities. It’s eye-opening to know more about the lesser-known aspects of a state.

  4. K
    Kolton Kirby says:

    As a Kentucky resident, I appreciate the awareness about safety in certain cities. It’s crucial for locals and visitors alike to stay informed and make smart choices.

  5. C
    Carter Welch says:

    It would be helpful to know if there are specific areas within these cities that are safer for tourists, or if there are any initiatives in place to improve safety for residents and visitors.

  6. H
    Harrison Houston says:

    While it’s essential to be aware of safety concerns, let’s not forget the unique charm and culture Kentucky has to offer. Consider exploring the smaller towns and countryside, where you can still enjoy the hospitality and beauty of the Bluegrass State without the concerns mentioned in this list.

  7. T
    Taylor Simon says:

    Thanks for sharing this info! It’s a reminder that every destination has its challenges. When planning a trip to Kentucky, it might be helpful to balance visits to these cities with stops in safer areas.

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