10 Most Dangerous Cities in North Carolina

Updated On October 11, 2023
North Carolina

Even though North Carolina is a coastal state, it is still surrounded by four others.

That means the wide region gets a lot of foot traffic from its neighbors on the way to the beach, among other destinations.

Asheville, in the far west, was once inhabited by the wealthiest family of their day, the Vanderbilts.

The Biltmore, America’s castle, is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the region.

While there is an awful lot to see and experience in North Carolina, how safe is it?

Follow along with us as we go through the most dangerous cities throughout the state. 

10 Most Dangerous Cities in North Carolina

Lumberton, North Carolina
Lumberton, North Carolina

1. Lumberton

Lumberton isn’t only a top dangerous city in North Carolina, it’s also on the list of top dangerous cities throughout the US.

Citizens have a 1 in 27 chance of being a victim.

The city is 435% above every other place in the state for danger. 

For every 1,000 people, there are 122 property and 20 violent crimes.

Oxford, North Carolina
Oxford, North Carolina

2. Oxford

In a town with less than 9,000 people, you’d think people would be nicer to one another.

In one year, Oxford had almost 500 reported crimes. 

If there is a positive to those numbers, it’s that an overwhelming majority were nonviolent crimes.

Locals have a 1 in 21 chance of being a victim of a property crime. 

They also have a 1 in 129 chance of experiencing personal violence.

Pineville, North Carolina
Pineville, North Carolina

3. Pineville

It’s not every day you come across a city with presidential ties.

Pineville just so happens to be the birthplace of former president Polk.

Unfortunately, not even a legacy can keep a place safe. 

When it comes to property damage, Pineville is number one in the state.

Residents have a 1 in 8 chance of having their property messed with.

Whiteville, North Carolina
Whiteville, North Carolina

4. Whiteville

Despite the historical significance of Whiteville, there seem to be a lot of problems here.

A little too many problems for a place with only 5,000 residents.

Whiteville has the second most property crimes in the state and the third most violent crimes.

Local officials contribute the issues to a lack of jobs and rising costs around the city.

Kinston, North Carolina
Kinston, North Carolina

5. Kinston

This town feels like a relic of the past upon driving through it. 

That’s what most do, drive through on their way to the Neuse River or the ocean.

Those who stay behind have to watch out for others who are up to no good. 

Locals have a 1 in 20 chance of being victims of a property crime.

Williamston, North Carolina
Williamston, North Carolina

6. Williamston

Williamston sort of feels like it’s in the middle of nowhere.

It’s about 25 minutes from a major city and there’s not a lot going on in the community.

When there’s not a lot happening locally, that usually means there’s not an abundance of work, either.

A fifth of the residents lives below the poverty line. 

Perhaps that has something to do with Williamston having the fifth-highest burglary rate in the state. 

Gastonia, North Carolina
Gastonia, North Carolina

7. Gastonia

Not too far outside of Charlotte is another large city, Gastonia.

In one year, there were 4,500 reported crimes.

Citizens have a 1 in 20 chance of being property crime victims. 

Most were property crimes but there were still 525 violent crimes as well.

Wadesboro, North Carolina
Wadesboro, North Carolina

8. Wadesboro

Wadesboro was a North Carolina town long before its current moniker.

The name change came about after the Revolutionary War.

Colonel Wade was thought so highly of that the locals thought the town should represent him.

As time went on, the city picked up another reputation.

Currently, Wadesboro is number one for violent crimes in North Carolina. 

Burlington, NC
Burlington, NC

9. Burlington

Keeping the masses fed isn’t enough to keep them from acting out.

Burlington has more restaurants than any other place when compared with the land size in the US.

Yet, somehow, still has an overabundance of property crimes. 

The combined crime rate in Burlington is 53 for every 1,000 people.

Henderson, NC
Henderson, NC

10. Henderson

It’s kind of ironic seeing Henderson on the most dangerous list.

The reason why is the city is named after a late Chief Justice.

Unfortunately, the criminals of Henderson have not been inspired by the lineage.

Tragically, this town is the murder capital of North Carolina. 

Other violent crimes, such as assault, have put Henderson in second place for most dangerous.

5 Safety Tips for Traveling to North Carolina

1. Stay Lit

If you’re visiting anywhere in the evening, or if it will be dark by the time you get back to the car, follow the light.

It is especially important to remember if the place you’re visiting is a major tourist attraction.

Criminals often stalk parking lots for cars with unlocked doors.

They will also pay attention to people walking alone to their cars in the dark.

Unsavory events can transpire easily in the dark, so staying under big lights will be a big help.

2. Keep a Clean Vehicle

Parking under a big light is great for safety.

Keeping the interior free from anything noteworthy can also save a window or two.

A criminal can walk past a car and peer quickly into the windows in the hopes of spotting valuables.

If there’s nothing left out or on the seats, they would typically walk on by.

That doesn’t mean hiding things in obvious ways.

Purses stuffed under blankets will be interesting enough for someone looking to break in. 

Leave anything worth taking in the hotel room.

3. Keep Windows Up

If you’re being approached by a stranger while in the vehicle, don’t roll down your windows.

Even a few inches in experienced hands could lead to someone taking control of your ride.

There should be no reason for someone to need to talk to you with the window rolled down in the first place.

If the person is persistent, leave the parking lot.

If the person gets violent, call the police.

4. Only Carry Necessities

If you don’t absolutely need something while out and about, leave it in the hotel room.

Expert pickpockets can casually bump into you and remove your wallet in the short chaos. 

So, while keeping as much distance from strangers as possible, keep your pockets clean.

This might be a good opportunity to empty your wallet, anyway.

Try to make sure any kids traveling with you also adhere to this rule.

It’s easier to pickpocket a child not paying attention than a grown adult on guard duty.

5. Stay Calm

One thing about North Carolina is all the mountains. 

This is a pretty green state.

If you’re going for fun, you’re more than likely going to enjoy the wilderness at some point.

There are places more prone to bears than others. 

If you come upon a bear, don’t panic.

The overwhelming majority of bear interactions amount to nothing.

Bears are more likely to try to stay away from you.

Talk calmly directly to the bear. 

Back up slowly.

North Carolina Safety Overview

READ THE FULL REPORT: North Carolina Safety Review

Safety Index:
North Carolina

Frequently Asked Questions

What's the safest city in North Carolina?

Nestled up to Raleigh is the state’s safest city, Holly Springs.

It’s great to hear how safe Holly Springs is due to the multitude of festivals, fairs, and other outdoor activities that happen here.

It’s also often voted as one of the best places in North Carolina to live.

Another safe bet is Oak Island.

After all, who wants to get into criminal activity when the beach is only a short walk away?

Oak Island is peaceful and quiet all year round.

How safe is North Carolina?

North Carolina is neither exceptionally safe nor is it particularly dangerous.

In fact, when compared to the other states in the US, North Carolina comes in at 21.

That’s slightly more in favor of safe than not, but it’s not really anything to write home about.

With that being said, a majority of the state is viewed by locals as safe.

Much of the state is full of mountains or beaches, so there’s more of a chill mindset.

At least, that’s the theory.

What are the top crimes being committed in North Carolina?

More likely than not, if you’re a victim of a crime in this southern state, it’s robbery, assault, or burglary.

Travelers new to the state also report a problem with a mugging or local scams.

Overall, the crime rate is 4.3 for every 1,000 citizens in regard to violent crimes.

For property crime, the rate is 22.4 per 1,000.

That equals out to about 280,000 reported crimes per year.

6 Comments on 10 Most Dangerous Cities in North Carolina

  1. I can appreciate this especially the facts are obviously with everyday fast time management in living. This information needs to be accessed and incorporated through media daily (etc…news channel, community updates) for citizens.

    Thank you!

  2. Wake Forest is very safe. PD doesn’t play.

  3. N
    NC Resident says:

    Some places are dangerous in NC but where isn’t it dangerous these days? I LOVE living in NC.

    1. R
      Randy Stanley says:

      Lifetime Kinston resident: What you stated about our town is anything but the truth! We have no more crime than other towns around us! The reason many pass through is going and returning from the beach on hwy 70. The crimes committed are mostly drug or gang related . All towns in the US have the same problem. We don’t have military bases, a major college, or water front access like towns around us. Many residents work out of town and shop where they work. Instead of posting negative news ,take time to visit us! It’s home to me

      Randy Stanley

  4. M
    Marcel Knight says:

    This post sheds light on the reality of safety concerns in certain North Carolina cities. It’s a reminder to take precautions and stay informed while exploring different areas in the states.

  5. A
    Ariel Ortega says:

    Having lived in North Carolina, it’s sad to see some cities facing safety issues. This post emphasizes the importance of staying vigilant and making informed travel choices.

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