Discover the 13 Most Dangerous Places in Virginia

Written by William Mullane
Published: December 10, 2023
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Planning a trip with the family or even a solo road excursion by yourself can be challenging and mysterious. It behooves us all to know the ins and outs of the places we wish to visit. Whether you are native to the area or just passing through, every region has its eccentricities. However, those who hail from the state of Virginia are likely aware of which cities, towns, and villages to avoid across the state. For those unaware, read on to discover the 13 most dangerous places in Virginia.

1. City of Richmond (Most Dangerous City in Virginia)

Gaines Mill Battlefield Richmond VA

Civil War-era cannons sit on display at Gaines Mill National Battlefield in Richmond, VA.

©Grant Wylie/iStock via Getty Images

Back in 2012, the city of Richmond reported the highest number of murders in the state. While this number has fluctuated over the last decade, the city has recently seen another spike. Currently, the murder rate in Richmond is 15.9%, which is up from the same time last year. The unfortunate rate of violent crime makes Richmond one of the most dangerous places in Virginia.

2. City of Norfolk 

USS Wisconsin Battleship (BB-64) in Norfolk, Virginia VA, USA.

The USS Wisconsin Battleship (BB-64) is positioned in the water off Norfolk, VA.

©Wangkun Jia/Shutterstock.com

With the fourth highest number of property crimes in the state, residents of Norfolk have a one in 19 chance of being subjected to violent crime. Violent property crimes include burglary, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft. Despite sporting a smaller number of violent crimes than Richmond, the city has the third most murders per person. Norfolk also holds the third most violent crime per person.

3. City of Portsmouth 

Portsmouth, Virginia, USA at Dawn

A looming storm threatens Portsmouth, VA at dawn on the Elizabeth River.

©Sean Pavone/iStock via Getty Images

While Norfolk holds a higher rank regarding the number of violent crimes, Portsmouth has its claim as one of the most dangerous places in Virginia. The city currently ranks second in number of property crimes. Statistically, residents of Portsmouth have a one in 18 chance of being the victim of a violent crime. However, like Richmond and Norfolk, some areas are much safer than others.

4. South Boston (Small Town)

Maintenance car

Maintenance car sits on a railroad track in South Boston, VA.

©Greg Bethmann/iStock via Getty Images

Although not as small as Franklin, the “city” of South Boston tops out with only 8,000 residents. Despite being relatively small, the area is also known to be a bit dangerous for tourists. The town has experienced high levels of poverty and unemployment in recent years. This often leads to an influx in crime, especially violent property crime.

5. City of Roanoke

Roanoke Virginia

The sun sets over Roanoke, VA, with a view of the Blueridge Mountains in the distance.

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Roanoke appears safer than cities like Richmond and Portsmouth on the surface. This is because the rate of murders in the city is lower. Still, Roanoke ranks seventh in most homicides across the state. However, it also has the second-most violent crimes per person in Virginia, as well as the third-highest number of property crimes per person in the state.

6. City of Fredericksburg

Beautiful Colorful Aerial Perspective Over Downtown Fredricksburg Virginia

The Rappahannock River flows alongside the historic city of Fredricksburg, VA.

©ChrisBoswell/iStock via Getty Images

If you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time, you can easily find yourself in a quandary. One such dangerous place in Virginia is the city of Fredericksburg. The area is 9th in murders per person and 8th overall in violent crimes per person. Reportedly, residents have a one in twenty-three chance of being victimized as Fredericksburg is also 9th in property crimes.

7. City of Hopewell (Small Town)

Hopewell city County, Commonwealth of Virginia (Independent city, U.S. county, United States of America, USA, U.S., US) map vector illustration, scribble sketch Hopewell map

The city of Hopewell, VA is located in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

©Danler/iStock via Getty Images

Most violent crimes reported in Hopewell are categorized as assaults. Still, the small town ranked 7th in the highest number of murders per person as recently as 2012. Coming in as the 10th most dangerous place in Virginia in terms of both violent and property crimes, Hopewell sees its share of disturbances.

8. City of Petersburg

Petersburg Battlefield Trenches and Forts

The trenches and fortifications located at Petersburg National Battlefield in Virginia. This was the final campaign of the American Civil War.

©Grant Wylie/iStock via Getty Images

It may surprise some to learn the city of Petersburg ranks among the most dangerous places in Virginia. Due to the fact that it has some of the lowest property crimes in the state, Petersburg subsequently has an overall low number of crimes per person. However, regarding violent crime, the city has the fourth-highest number of homicides and the second-highest number of homicides. Numbers in 2012 showed 15 murders per 100,000 people, with the majority of violent crimes reported as assaults.

9. Emporia (Small Town)

Fifteen Stars

The fifteen star American flag was authorized by the United States government in 1795.

©Bill Chizek/iStock via Getty Images

According to Neighborhood Scout, the city of Emporia has a total crime index rating of 11. This means Emporia is safer than 11% of U.S. neighborhoods. That’s not great. The safest rating is 100. So, while there is limited information available on the city, it has solidified its ranking as one of the most dangerous places in Virginia.

10. City of Bristol

Sunset at Mount Rogers in Southwestern Virginia

Mount Rogers in southwestern Virginia is less than a one-mile drive from Bristol.

©Eifel Kreutz/iStock via Getty Images

Although coyotes have been sighted in Bristol along with many dangerous animals in Virginia, it is most often people who cause the most turmoil. With the 4th highest number of murders, the city of Bristol was recently called one of the most hazardous areas in the state. Although there was technically less than one murder per person reported, the fact that more than half of the cities and towns in Virginia reported zero adds Bristol to the list.

11. City of Newport News

Boardwalk on Lake Maury

The boardwalk along the Noland Trail on Lake Maury is one of the most scenic spots in Newport News, VA.

©tmersh/iStock via Getty Images

Residents of Newport News enjoy above-average schools and a dense suburban feel, but the area can also be fairly unsafe. With the fourth-highest number of murders per person in Virginia, it also ranks ninth in overall violent crime. Although the majority of these crimes were reported as assaults, 28 of those were rapes, and 149 per 100,000 were robberies. 

12. City of Danville

View from Fisher's Peak Mountain on the North Carolina, Virginia Border in the Spring

The “playful city” of Danville, VA is lost along the North Carolina-Virginia border.

©Eifel Kreutz/iStock via Getty Images

Officially recognized as a “playful city,” Danville is a beautiful area. Unfortunately, its ranking of 11th highest murder rate in the state also makes it a dangerous area. In 2012, the city also ranked 14th in violent crimes, with the 5th most property crimes per person 

in Virginia. With historic landmarks and beautiful rolling countryside, Danville has been rated one of the greatest places to live. However, with nearly 30 property crimes and three violent crimes per 1,000 residents currently, visitors should exercise caution.

13. Town of Franklin (Small Town)

Welcome to Virginia border sign

Franklin, VA is located just nine miles from the NC border, where signs like this one welcome travelers.

©Tim Pennington/iStock via Getty Images

For a small, relatively quaint little town that makes one think of Southern hospitality, Franklin surprisingly has one of the highest crime rates not only in the state but in the entire country! The city has a crime rate of 36 per 1,000 residents. Compared to all communities of any size, this is one of the highest rates in America. While in Franklin, you have a one in 28 chance of becoming a victim of either a violent or property crime. Altogether, this makes Franklin one of the most dangerous places in Virginia.

Summary of the Most Dangerous Places in Virginia

Cities/Towns in Virginia
1Richmond
2Norfolk
3Portsmouth
4South Boston
5Roanoke
6Fredericksburg
7Hopewell
8Petersburg
9Emporia
10Bristol
11Newport News
12Danville
13Franklin

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Tverdokhlib/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

William Mullane is a freelance writer with experience that stretches the boundaries of the typical wordsmith. A native of the Buffalo, NY area, William mostly grew up on a farm in rural Western New York. His early life resulted in a deep love for animals and an appreciation for hard work. William spent over two decades as a musician and hardscape specialist before earning a BA in creative writing. He worked as a writer and editor for several years and currently writes for Flywheel Publishing. William spends his days as a father first, writer second, and die-hard Bills fan all year round!

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