In 2014, more than 8.2 million property crime offenses occurred throughout the U.S., resulting in estimated losses of $14.3 billion, per the FBI’s most recent Uniform Crime Report publication. The FBI defines property crime as arson, burglary, larceny-theft and motor vehicle theft.
Given the amount of property crimes that occur and the resulting costs each year, we at HomeInsurance.com found the 20 midsize cities in the South with the lowest and highest rates of property crimes (excluding arson). The Overall Property Crime Scores below are an unweighted average of instances of property crimes per 100,000 residents for the first six months in 2015.
The 10 Midsize Southern Cities with the Lowest Property Crime Rates
Cary has an overall score of 197.66. It has a population of 154,978 and is located just 17 minutes from downtown Raleigh. The city in the Tar Heel State is known for its many attractions, including the Koka Booth Amphitheatre – which has hosted big names in music, such as John Mayer, Lady Antebellum and Willie Nelson – and cultural and art festivals, such as Lazy Daze Arts and Crafts Festival and the Diwali Indian Festival of Lights. Cary is also known for its safety. In 2015, SmartAsset ranked the 200 safest cities in the country, and Cary clinched the No. 4 spot.
Port St. Lucie’s overall property crime score is 224.99 for 2015. The city’s population is 172,453, and it is located on the state’s Atlantic coastline. According to a 2012 BizJournals.com report, Port St. Lucie had the highest homeownership rate in the nation. The city’s low crime rate, diverse housing market and warm year-round temperatures are likely an attractive combination for homeowners and renters alike. Port St. Lucie is also the location of spring training for the New York Mets.
3. Coral Springs, Florida
Coral Springs – a city with no springs within its limits – was named after Coral Ridge Properties, the development firm that purchased the land from a private owner in 1961. Coral Springs was chartered in 1963. The city now has 127,939 residents and an overall property crime score of 289.46. Art and entertainment are popular in Coral Springs, which displays new sculptures throughout the city twice each year and chooses one to buy and display permanently along the ArtWalk – a row of sculptures placed on a downtown street. The Coral Springs Art Museum is also a popular attraction. It hosts monthly events for family participation, along with performers such as singers, pianists and comedians.
4. Alexandria, Virginia
Alexandria’s overall property crime score is 292.37. The city has a population of 151,065 and was founded in 1749. Alexandria’s famous sons include George Washington, Robert E. Lee and Jim Morrison. The city has a slew of historical sites to visit, including Mount Vernon, George Washington’s former home; the Torpedo Factory Art Center, a factory building formerly used to produce military weapons and equipment during World War II that has since been converted to art studios and galleries; and the National Inventors Hall of Fame and Museum, which honors famous inventors and offers interactive exhibits.
5. Palm Bay, Florida
Palm Bay has an overall property crime score of 300.45. Palm Bay’s population is 105,287, and it is located on the state’s east central coast. Palm Bay is home to 29 city parks, which provide space for recreational activities such as skateboarding, paintball, golf and lounging on the beach. The city also hosts Turkey Creek Sanctuary, 130 acres of undisturbed forest and wildlife. The sanctuary was formed as part of Brevard County’s Environmentally Endangered Lands program and offers trails for hiking, running and mountain biking, as well as the opportunity to see manatees, turtles and alligators in their natural habitats. The sanctuary is home to the Margaret Hames Nature Center, which offers environmental education programs and exhibits.
6. Cape Coral, Florida
Cape Coral’s population is 168,712, and its overall property crime score is 306.64. Founded in 1957, the city is located along Florida’s Gulf Coast and encompasses an area of 120 square miles. Cape Coral has more than 400 miles of navigable canals, making it the city with the most canals in the world and earning it the nickname “Waterfront Wonderland.” Annual events include Red, White and Boom (one of the largest Fourth of July celebrations in Southwest Florida), the Sounds of Jazz and Blues (an annual citywide music festival) and the Coconut Festival (carnival rides, live music, food from local vendors and a fireworks display).
7. Virginia Beach, Virginia
Virginia Beach’s overall property crime score is 338.58. The city has a population of 451,102, making it the largest city among those on our list with the lowest property crime scores. Located along both the Atlantic Coast and the mouth of Chesapeake Bay, the city’s beach activities and events such as the Coastal Edge East Coast Surfing Championship – the oldest continuously run surfing competition in the U.S. and second-oldest in the world – are big draws for visitors. Another event that attracts visitors is the Neptune Festival, a month-long celebration to say farewell to summer that includes a golf tournament, wine festival, sand sculpting championship and live music.
8. Miramar, Florida
Miramar has an overall property crime score of 341.77 and a population of 132,352. The city was incorporated in 1955 and encompasses 31 square miles of southeastern Florida. Miramar takes a great deal of pride in its landscape and has earned the Tree City USA designation from the Arbor Day Foundation every year since 1993. To be selected as a Tree City USA community, cities must meet four requirements: “maintaining a tree board or department, having a community tree ordinance, spending at least $2 per capita on urban forestry and celebrating Arbor Day.”
9. Pembroke Pines, Florida
Pembroke Pines has an overall property crime score of 371.31. Its population is 164,372, and it is situated in the southeastern portion of the state. Pembroke Pines was ranked No. 32 of 50 on Money Magazine’s “Best Places to Live 2014” list due to its close proximity to Miami and Fort Lauderdale, while maintaining its small-town charm. The city has 28 parks to provide recreational activities such as golf, jogging and playgrounds for all ages, and also has four galleries and studios that offer music lessons, performing arts and displays from local artists.
10. Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston has 129,867 residents, and its overall property crime score is 378.59. Charleston is a history buff’s dream, offering tours of Fort Sumter – where the Civil War started – and much more. The Charleston Museum documents the history of the Lowcountry. The Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum displays 28 aircraft and three submarines, and includes an immersive Vietnam Experience. Charleston is also home to several popular annual events, such as the Spoleto Festival USA (a 17-day performing arts festival), the Sweetgrass Cultural Arts Festival (celebrating the Gullah Geechee African-American heritage and displaying an extensive collection of sweetgrass baskets) and the Charleston Water SportsFest (seven days of competitive and recreational watersports, cruises and excursions).
The 10 Midsize Southern Cities with the Highest Property Crime Rates
1. Orlando, Florida
Orlando is home to 259,675 residents and is located in central Florida. The city’s overall property crime score is 1,010.75. When most people think of Orlando, one thing comes to mind: Disney World. It and other theme parks contributed largely to Orlando’s rank as the country’s No. 1 travel destination in 2012 – drawing 57 million visitors to the city (52.9 million U.S. visitors and 4.1 million international visitors). But the city is much more than just amusement parks. Orlando is home to the NBA’s Orlando Magic; museums including Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art, Mennello Museum of American Art, Orlando Science Center and Orange County Regional History Center; and renowned golf courses, including Bay Hill Club & Lodge and Reunion Resort.
2. Chattanooga, Tennessee
Chattanooga’s overall property crime score is 985.96, and it has a population of 174,449. In 2012, the New York Times listed Chattanooga as No. 25 on its list of “The 45 Places to Go” in the world. Chattanooga – situated between the Great Smoky Mountains and Tennessee River – has drawn artists through programs and events such as Glass House Collective – a grant program for artists to set up shop in empty storefronts – and 4 Bridges – a festival for artists of all mediums to display their work in a 50,000-square-foot pavilion. Other popular festivals in Chattanooga include the Riverbend Festival – an eight-day music festival – and the TN Whiskey Festival, which features distilled whiskeys from all over the state.
3. Knoxville, Tennessee
Knoxville has an overall property crime score of 983.21. Knoxville’s population is 184,362. The city is known for its farm-to-table dining experiences, abundance of live music (particularly Big Ears Music Festival and Rhythm N’ Blooms Fest) and outdoor adventure, such as Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness, which is 1,000 acres of wilderness along the south waterfront of the Tennessee River. Knoxville festivals aren’t all about music, though. It’s also the home of the International Biscuit Festival, which includes a biscuit baking contest and biscuit sampling and draws a crowd of more than 20,000. The festival was rated the No. 1 food festival in the U.S. in 2011 by Livability.com.
4. Birmingham, Alabama
Birmingham has an overall property crime score of 981.54. Its population is 212,115, making it the largest city in the state. Birmingham’s rich history in the Civil Rights movement is displayed in exhibits at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. Birmingham is home to festivals that draw visitors from all over the country, including the annual Juneteenth Celebration, which celebrates the end of slavery with live music, food vendors and free admission to the aforementioned institute. For those who are more active, Birmingham’s Oak Mountain State Park – the largest park in Alabama – is ideal for mountain biking. The International Mountain Biking Association named the park’s Red Trail as one of its epic rides.
5. St. Petersburg, Florida
St. Petersburg’s population is 250,772, and it is located along the west central coast of the state. The city has an overall property crime score of 951.20. St. Petersburg is the home of the Sunken Gardens, a 100-year-old botanical garden and living museum, featuring more than 50,000 plants. The city’s museums and galleries include the Dali Museum featuring the works of artist Salvador Dali. St. Petersburg’s accolades include spots on the New York Times’ “52 Places to Go in 2014” and The Culture Trip’s “10 Most Beautiful Cities in the USA” lists.
6. Atlanta, Georgia
Atlanta’s overall property crime score is 890.99. The city’s instances of motor vehicle theft are 481 (per 100,000 population), more than any other city on this list. The population of Atlanta is 454,363, which makes it the largest city on this list. Atlanta is home to three professional sports teams: the Falcons (NFL), Hawks (NBA) and Braves (MLB). The city’s most popular attractions – the World of Coca-Cola, Georgia Aquarium and Center for Civil and Human Rights – are all located at Pemberton Place, a 22-acre plaza in downtown Atlanta. The World of Coca-Cola allows visitors to see how the beverage came to be and to sample more than 60 drinks. The Georgia Aquarium is the largest in the world, with aquatic animals swimming around in more than 8 million gallons of water. And the Center for Civil and Human Rights offers exhibits that detail the Civil Rights Movement, as well as the Global Rights Movement of present day.
7. Columbus, Georgia
Columbus has an overall property crime score of 875.12. The population of Columbus is 206,714, and it is located in the west central portion of the state. Columbus is home to the Coca-Cola Space Science Center, which lets people experience a simulated trip to outer space. The Chattahoochee River runs through the city, allowing residents and visitors to take it in while walking along the RiverWalk – a 15-mile park along the river’s banks – or by riding the rapids.
8. Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Fort Lauderdale was incorporated in 1911 and has 174,056 residents today. Its overall property crime score is 867.92. Due to Fort Lauderdale’s proximity to the Everglades, airboat rides are a popular activity, allowing visitors to see alligators and other wildlife up close. Fort Lauderdale is home to the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, which stages more than 700 performances annually, ranging from Broadway musicals to ballets and plays. The Museum of Discovery and Science features interactive science and nature exhibits for family-friendly fun. Nova Southeastern University’s NSU Art Museum hosts rotating exhibitions that range from fashion to photography and painting.
9. Lafayette, Louisiana
Lafayette has a population of 125,122 and an overall property crime score of 858.90. Lafayette is proud of its heritage and puts it on display for visitors and residents. Acadian Village covers 32 acres of farmland dedicated to preserving the Acadian (Cajun) heritage upon which the city was built. Vermilionville a 23-acre living history museum, features hands-on exhibits along the banks of Bayou Vermilion to educate visitors about the cultures of the Acadian, Creole and Native American people of the region.
10. Shreveport, Louisiana
Shreveport’s overall property crime score is 825.91. Shreveport’s instances of motor vehicle theft per 100,000 population were below the Southern average, even though it ranked among the highest in property crime in the region. The city has 200,184 residents and is located along the Red River. Shreveport hosts several festivals each year, including Red River Revel and Holiday in Dixie. The former is a weeklong fine arts festival, while the latter is a 10-day celebration featuring a BBQ cookoff, treasure hunt and carnival. Due to tax incentives, Shreveport has served as the filming location for countless popular movies and TV shows, including Mr. Brooks, The Guardian, W., True Blood, Toddlers and Tiaras and Duck Dynasty.
Protect Yourself from Property Crime
Property crime is a big issue in the United States. To reduce your chances of falling victim to property crime – whether you live in an area with a low or high rate – follow these tips:
– Invest in a home security system.
– Don’t allow strangers into your home.
– Don’t leave the doors or windows of your house or car unlocked.
– Don’t hide a spare key. Give it to a trusted neighbor or friend instead.
– Keep valuables such as jewelry in a locked safe.
– Avoid leaving your wallet sitting on the table or your purse hanging on the back of your chair while eating at a restaurant.
– Always be aware of your surroundings.
Even if you take every precaution, you could still be a victim of property theft. To protect yourself and your possessions, it’s important to have quality auto and home insurance.
Information used was compiled from the 2015 FBI Preliminary Semiannual Uniform Crime Report. The numbers shown are offenses known to law enforcement for the first six months (Jan.-June) of 2015. The overall score is an unweighted average of burglary per 100,000 population, larceny per 100,000 population and motor vehicle theft per 100,000 population. Cities were only included if their populations fell in the range of 100,000 to 500,000. Arson was not included in this study as data was not available for every city and arson crime numbers were negligible. For the purposes of this analysis, the states we grouped into the Southern region are Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.