10 Most Dangerous Cities in Pennsylvania

Updated On October 10, 2023

Pennsylvania is a diverse mountainous state ranging from rural farmland to major metropolitan areas and cultural centers.

The state is one of the original 13 U.S. colonies and has an extensive history that helped create America.

While the state is incredibly livable with plenty of safe areas, it has its fair share of problems, like most other places.

Despite the many wonders it offers, Pennsylvania regularly ranks in the top 15 states regarding crime.

If you’re considering moving to Pennsylvania or want to visit, it’s vital to learn more about the most dangerous cities by reading below!

10 Most Dangerous Cities in Pennsylvania

Johnstown, PA
Johnstown, PA

Ten: Johnstown

With a population of only 18,400, Johnstown boasts a crime rate 68% higher than the state average.

The total crime rate is 34.17 crimes per 1,000 citizens.

This means residents and visitors have a 1 in 30 chance of being the victim of a crime.

The yearly crime type averages are around 250 violent and 558 property crimes.

One main contributing factor to the high crime rate is the median household income of $24,000, which is 56% less than the U.S. average.

Reading, Pennsylvania
Reading, Pennsylvania

Nine: Reading

Located in Berks County, Reading has a population of 95,000, but this small city has a significant crime problem, with residents having a 1 in 28 chance of being crime victims.

The overall crime rate is 81% higher than the Pennsylvania average.

In 2022, 2,742 reported property crimes, and 690 reported violent crimes within city limits.

Despite its location near Philadelphia and the mountains, Reading struggles with poverty and a poor economy.

The median home value in the city is only $69,400.

Pottstown, Pennsylvania
Pottstown, Pennsylvania

Eight: Pottstown

Situated in Montgomery County, Pottstown has a population of only 23,400 residents, but the crime rate is 88% higher than the state average.

In 2021, Pottstown reported 3,823 crimes, so residents have a 1 in 27 chance of being crime victims.

The crime type consisted of 740 property crimes and 183 violent crimes; the rest fall into the other category.

This is a considerably shocking figure considering the city’s low population.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Seven: Philadelphia

Given its size, you may be surprised that Philadelphia isn’t higher on this list.

However, the crime is not that high compared to the population.

This doesn’t mean there aren’t dangerous areas of the city, but plenty of safe neighborhoods.

With a city population of 1.6 million, the crime rate is 97% higher than the state average, so residents have a 1 in 25 chance of being victims.

It’s important to note that in most major cities, crime is concentrated in specific areas, with the North and West Philadelphia neighborhoods being the most violent.

Ambridge, Pennsylvania
Ambridge, Pennsylvania

Six: Ambridge

In western Pennsylvania’s Beaver County, Ambridge has a tiny population of 7,000.

However, with a crime rate of 40.57 incidences per 1,000 people, Ambridge is 73% higher than the U.S. average.

This is a staggering number considering the low number of residents in the area.

Citizens have a 1 in 39 chance of being a victim.

Yeadon, Pennsylvania
Yeadon, Pennsylvania

Five: Yeadon 

In Delaware County, Yeadon is a suburb of Philadelphia with a crime rate of 40.83 per 1,000 residents.

Those living in Yeadon have a 1 in 25 chance of being victims of all crime types.

In 2021, 747 reported violent crimes were committed, and 3,336 property crimes occurred.

The median household income is $48,400, significantly lower than the national average, and the home price is just $138,000.

McKeesport, Pennsylvania
McKeesport, Pennsylvania

Four: McKeesport

McKeesport can be found in suburban Pittsburgh in Allegheny County.

The city boasts a population of 17,700, but despite this small size, the total crime rate is 42.91 incidences per 1,000 individuals.

Residents of McKeesport have a 1 in 24 chance of becoming crime victims.

Additionally, 332 violent crimes and 542 property crimes were reported in this suburb in 2021.

McKeesport continues to have unemployment and poverty issues, with a median household income of only $26,200, contributing to the high crime rate.

Chester, Pennsylvania
Chester, Pennsylvania

Three: Chester

One of the state’s most dangerous cities, Chester is a southern suburb of Philadelphia, between Delaware and Center City.

Located in Delaware County, Chester has a population of 32,600 and has a history of corruption and high crime, which continues to spill into today.

Chester’s crime rate is 115% higher than the state average, with 43.89 crimes per 1,000 individuals.

In addition, the city is plagued by unemployed and poverty, with the median home price being only $66,800.

Darby, Pennsylvania
Darby, Pennsylvania

Two: Darby

Darby is another Philadelphia suburb that reported 152 murders in 2021 within a population of only 10,600.

Property crime isn’t much better, with a 46.25 per 1,000 people rate.

When combining violent and property crimes, residents have a 1 in 22 chance of becoming victims in Darby.

Additionally, residents earn under $35,000 per year, despite being the shadow of one of the largest U.S. cities, so poverty continues to be a problem.

McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania
McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania

One: McKees Rocks

Known as “The Rocks,” McKees Rock is another Pittsburgh suburb in Allegheny County and the most dangerous city in Pennsylvania.

With a population of only 6,000, McKees Rocks boasts a staggering crime rate of 64.09 incidents per 1,000 citizens, making the city 173% more dangerous than the national average.

In addition, the total violent crime in 2022 was 106, and the property crime was 262, which is exceptionally high compared to the small population.

5 Safety Tips for Traveling to Pennsylvania

While countless Pennsylvania destinations are safe to visit, it’s essential to follow these tips when visiting any location:

One: Check-in with the Ranger’s Station

Suppose you’re visiting Pennsylvania to camp in one of the many mountain ranges and enjoy the natural beauty.

In that case, checking in with the ranger’s station before venturing into the wilderness is critical.

The ranger will ask you where you plan to go and the length of time of your stay and ensure you have the proper gear for the trek.

It’s also good practice to check in with the station at the end of the trip so they don’t think you’ve gone missing.

Two: Do Not Venture into Secluded Areas

If you plan to go out in one of the many Pennsylvania cities at night, never wander into secluded or poorly lit areas.

Since you will not be familiar with the surroundings, you don’t want to end up in a dangerous neighborhood since areas flip quickly in cities like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

If you end up in a dark area, turn around and go back to the main area you were just in.

Three: Don’t Carry a lot of Cash

With almost every business, restaurant, bar, and souvenir shop taking contactless payments now, this is rarely an issue.

However, if you prefer to pay for goods in cash, only bring the amount you need for the day.

Plenty of ATMs are scattered around the state, so if you need more money, take a modest amount out for the rest of the day.

Four: Conduct Research

Before booking a hotel, consider the best areas in major cities.

In addition to providing a central location to access local attractions, it will ensure your safety day or night.

Also, while visiting, understand the neighborhoods to avoid by performing a simple online search.

If you are still looking for information, ask the hotel concierge about places not to go.

Five: Don’t Leave your Drink Unattended

If you plan to go to a local bar at night, never leave your drink unattended, especially if you’re a solo female traveler.

Plenty of people may try to drug you at a bar or nightclub.

Also, never accept any food or drinks for strangers unless you can watch the bartender pour the drink.

Furthermore, don’t draw attention when wearing revealing clothing; this is asking for unwanted attention and could lead to drink-drugging.

Pennsylvania Safety Overview

READ THE FULL REPORT: Pennsylvania Safety Review

Safety Index:

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the safest area in Pennsylvania?

The safest place to live in the state is Collegeville.

Located in Montgomery County, Collegeville is a suburb of Philadelphia with only 5,000 residents.

The crime rate is 0.37 per 1,000 residents, 84% lower than the U.S. average.

This means residents have a 1 in 270 chance of becoming victims of any crime type.

Which city is safer, Pittsburgh or Philadelphia?

Pittsburgh is much safer than Philadelphia due to a lower crime rate in the city and surrounding suburbs.

However, Philadelphia is three times the size of Pittsburgh, so it makes sense that the smaller city will have less crime.

What is the poorest area of Pennsylvania?

Among locations with at least 25,000 residents, Chester is the poorest city in the state, with a household income of only $32,800.

As a suburb of Philadelphia, living off this little money is extremely difficult for residents, so it’s number three on this list.

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