10 Most Dangerous Cities in Tennessee

Updated On October 10, 2023

Tennessee is a breathtaking southern state geographically divided by the Tennessee River, the Mississippi Delta, and the Smokey Mountains.

The Smokey Mountains dominate the eastern part of the state.

Its largest city, Knoxville, is home to Jack Daniels whiskey, the Tennessee Valley, and the University of Tennessee.

Central Tennessee, home to country music’s Nashville, is filled with green rolling hills.

While the trendy city of Chattanooga, a hiker’s paradise, is located in the south-central portion of the volunteer state.

The western part of the elongated state contains Memphis and the Mississippi Delta. Memphis is home to deep southern blues and Elvis’s Graceland.

While beautiful, Tennessee has the fifth-highest overall crime rate in the United States – 6.72/1000 and the third-highest violent crime rate — 73.47%.

The 27% property crime rate in the Volunteer State is worse than the U.S. average.

In 2020, crimes against persons, including homicide, kidnapping, and trafficking, were prevalent.

And many cities saw a surge in property crimes, including theft, auto theft, and extortion.

But while the numbers are high, crime is not evenly distributed throughout the state.

With many tourists, the state capital of Nashville is known for opportunistic crimes, and Chattanooga’s crime rate is associated with its growth.

Memphis is one of the most dangerous cities in the nation, while much of the state sits below the national average of 5.3 percent. 

10 Most Dangerous Cities in Tennessee

Berry Hill, Tennessee
Berry Hill, Tennessee

Berry Hill

Surprisingly, a trendy Nashville suburb, Berry Hill/Melrose, has one of the highest crime indices in the state, 56.2/1000 – according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

The rate is 1217% higher than the national average.

Berry Hill, located south of Music City, is famous for its eclectic mix of small businesses, recording studios, boutiques, and popular restaurants.

If you visit the area, do so during the daytime or in groups at night. 

Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

Pigeon Forge

Pigeon Forge is in east Tennessee and the Eastern Time Zone.

It has a Crime Index of 60/1000, which equals a 1 in 17 chance of encountering crime in the area.

In fact, Pigeon Forge has one of the highest crime rates in America, regardless of city size.

The popular recreational area is growing at nearly 20% – higher than the state’s 13.40%.

The USA’s average growth rate is 11.6%. And while growth is high, the mountain area’s median household income remains near $30,000.

Common sense is the key to staying safe in Pigeon Forge. Lock up valuables, know your surroundings, and tell people where you are going.

Memphis, Tennessee
Memphis, Tennessee


Memphis can be dangerous.

It is the third most dangerous city in the nation, with a crime rate of 1.90/1000 and giving you a 1 in 40 chance of encountering crime.

The national average is 3.80. 

The national reported crime rate increase was 12%, year-over-year.

Memphis, however, saw a 23% jump in crime year-over-year due to a higher murder rate.

Carjackings in Memphis increased a surprising 13%.

Being safe in Memphis involves smart choices and common sense.

Crime in Memphis is a jumble, with the east side the safest and higher overall crime rates in the north and south.

Downtown Memphis is relatively safe due to the 24-hour police patrols and prominent presence.

Ripley, Tennessee
Ripley, Tennessee


Ripley consists of five Core neighborhoods and a population of roughly 7,800 people, making it the state’s 81st largest community.

Primarily rural, the median household income of the small city is $19,000.

Located in the western part of Tennessee, north of Memphis, Ripley’s crime rate is 49/1000, equating to a 1 in 57 chance of encountering violent crime.

Safety in Ripley involves knowing your surroundings and taking precautions with your belongings.

Assault is the most prevalent offense, followed by property crimes. 

Union City, Tennessee
Union City, Tennessee

Union City

Located directly on the border with Kentucky in rural northwest Tennessee, Union City is a short drive from Reelfoot Lake State Park.

This sleepy southern 10,500-person town is home to Discovery Park of America, with hiking trails, a lake, and a natural history museum. 

Union City crime rates have risen slightly year-over-year, primarily due to increases in personal and sexual assaults.

Visitors have a 1 in 126 chance of encountering violent crime in Union City compared to 1 in 148 for the state.

Staying safe in Union City includes being aware of your surroundings and staying in groups at night and in unfamiliar areas.

Athens, Tennessee
Athens, Tennessee


Located mid-point between Knoxville and Chattanooga, Athens has roughly 14,000 people who take pride in their “The Friendly City.”

It is home to the Living Heritage Museum.

And both the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Cherokee National Forest are a short drive away.

Unfortunately, someone in Athens has a 1 in 17 chance of experiencing property crime – three times the United States average.

However, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reported crime statistics, when it comes to violent crime, Athens rocks with few assaults and no murders in 2020. 

Newport, Tennessee
Newport, Tennessee


It is hard to believe that a small southern city with just under 7000 residents could have this level of crime.

But the eastern Tennessee town of Newport takes the prize with Tennessee’s highest property crimes rate.

These incidences include crimes of opportunity, burglary, and auto theft.

And because of this high rate, the overall crime rate in Newport is also elevated to the highest in the state – three times the U.S. average.

In fact, there is a 1 in 13 chance of having something stolen while visiting the Newport Speedway, the Moonshine Distillery, or just relaxing in the city.

Situational awareness is a good idea when traveling, especially in eastern Tennessee.

To stay safe in Newport, stay aware of your surroundings and monitor your belongings. 

Millington, Tennessee
Millington, Tennessee


Millington is an independent city that is also part of the Memphis metroplex.

A highly affordable Tennessee city, its population hovers around 10,700 people.

Unfortunately, Millington ranks well above the state for violent crime.

Also of note is the high murder rate and third-highest burglary rate in Tennessee.

In fact, visitors to this historic town have a 1 in 84 chance of encountering crime.

And walking through the nearby Meeman-Shelby Forest solo is not recommended.

Take general precautions when in the area, such as letting people know where you are and minimizing bling.

Dyersburg, Tennessee
Dyersburg, Tennessee


Dyersburg is a historic southern town in the far northeastern portion of the state near the Arkansas-Tennessee border.

Its motto is Gateway to Everywhere.

However, the founders of Dyersburg probably never expected its surprisingly high crime rates.

The small city of roughly 16,600 people is home to tree-lined streets, brick buildings, and peaceful parks.

The town has the state’s fifth most violent crime and second-highest property crime rate in Tennessee

. Visitors and roughly 16,600 residents have a 1 in 20 chance of being the victim of a crime.

Central Dyersburg has the highest crime incidents, while suburbs to the north, east, and south are slightly lower.

If you are in the city, double-check your doors. Lock your car doors, and hide your belongings.

Keeping track of your things at restaurants is also a good idea.

Chattanooga, Tennessee
Chattanooga, Tennessee


Chattanooga is a lazy river city with trendy bars, unique museums, and, of course, Lookout Mountain.

Its population is young and hovers around 185,000.

It is also an outdoor enthusiast’s dream.

But this fun city with a collegiate vibe has an unfortunate level of crime. 

Violent crime is pervasive throughout Chattanooga, with 182 rapes and 33 murders reported in 2020 – the fourth-highest statewide. Chattanooga is also a hub for automobile thieves.

There were 2101 car thefts in the city – higher than in either Memphis or Nashville last year.

Crime is higher along the river and south of downtown.

There is a 1 in 72 chance of encountering crime – twice the state average.

But it should be noted that Chattanooga’s crime rates are trending positive, with continued improvement over the past two years.

5 Safety Tips for Traveling to Tennessee

  1. Lock your vehicle and doors. Keep your hotel room door closed. Unfortunately, most people let their guard down when on vacation. 
  2. Be Aware of Your Surroundings.
  3. Research your trip, general location, and transportation methods before you travel. Don’t take rides from strangers or anyone approaching you from the street.
  4. Avoid public transportation at night.
  5. Travel in packs or at least pairs. Stay with the group in cities with a higher crime rate, especially at night.

Tennessee Safety Overview

READ THE FULL REPORT: Tennessee Safety Review

Safety Index:

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Tennessee taxis safe?

Most major cities in Tennessee have taxis and are safe. Nashville has special taxis that cover the country music spots, while Memphis has special buses and rates for downtown.

Outside of the cities, Tennessee remains rural.

Uber and taxi companies are scarce, so a rental car is suggested.

Does Tennessee have pickpockets?

Nashville and Memphis are known for pickpockets and purse or backpack thieves, especially in tourist areas.

They target wallets, purses, and cell phones.

While traveling, monitor your belongings, hiding ash, credit cards, and jewelry.

Is Tennessee safe for women and solo travelers?

Tennessee is an excellent place to visit, particularly for solo or women travelers.

Most major cities are safe, but precautions should be taken.

Don’t travel alone at night; be mindful of anyone approaching you and offering help.

4 Comments on 10 Most Dangerous Cities in Tennessee

  1. Tennessee has beautiful natural features and cities, but it also has high crime rates.

  2. B
    Bellamy says:

    Chattanooga, Tennessee is a vibrant city with trendy bars and outdoor activities, but it unfortunately has a high level of crime including violent crimes and car thefts.

  3. M
    MY Name says:

    Memphis is a wasteland

  4. C
    Colin Hess says:

    I’m not surprised to see Memphis on this list. It’s a shame because it has so much potential, but crime seems to overshadow its charm.

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