Safest Cities in North Carolina – 2020

Last Updated on February 11, 2020

Overall, North Carolina’s violent and property crime rates are a bit above national levels in both categories, owing to high crime in large cities like Durham and Charlotte, where violent crime is nearly double the national rate of 3.69 offenses per 1,000.

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Crime rate per 1,000
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Law enforcement per 1,000

However, the Tar Heel State’s safest communities stand in stark contrast to these crime-plagued urban areas, each offering a safe, secure environment to its residents.

Pinehurst is North Carolina’s safest municipality. The Moore County village of 16K is well known as the home of the famous Pinehurst Resort, a historic golf resort with a large area of its central village designated as a National Historic Landmark District. True to its image as an upper-crust resort community, Pinehurst recorded a low 0.93 per 1,000 violent crime rate, along with the lowest property crime rate in the state (6.85 per 1,000).

The second safest community in North Carolina is Holly Springs, a rapidly expanding town of 37,000 in Wake County. The prosperous town scored North Carolina’s lowest violent crime rate, 0.51 offenses per 1,000.

Davidson, a historic town that’s home to the prestigious Davidson College, is North Carolina’s 3rd safest community. In 2018, the town had a violent crime rate below 1 per 1K, as well as a property crime rate less-than-half of the national rate.

Placing 4th is Cary, which with a population topping 170,000, is the seventh-largest municipality in the state.  Despite Cary’s size, the town boasts remarkably low crime rates, including a 0.62 per 1,000 rate of violent crime.

Closing out the list of North Carolina’s 5 safest cities is Apex, a town that has experienced a population boom in recent decades due to nearby Research Triangle Park’s demand for skilled technology workers. Like other communities on the list, Apex’s violent crime rate is under 1 offense per 1,000.

North Carolina’s Safest Cities

NCCityPopulationViolent
crime
Property
crime
Law enforcement
employees
Total crimesCrime rate per 1,000Violent crimes per 1,000Property crimes per 1,000Law enforcement per 1,000
1Pinehurst1621315111301267.770.936.851.85
2Holly Springs3700819267672867.730.517.211.81
3Davidson12954121272213910.730.939.801.70
4Cary1705181051666231177110.390.629.771.35
5Apex52577506639671313.560.9512.611.83
6Boone19524182894830715.720.9214.802.46
7Wake Forest44318496539170215.841.1114.732.05
8Huntersville576777488410095816.611.2815.331.73
9Leland21008273203434716.521.2915.231.62
10Southern Pines14271333124934524.172.3121.863.43
11Concord94022931679189177218.850.9917.862.01
12Mount Holly15940233023732520.391.4418.952.32
13Archdale11529272353226222.732.3420.382.78
14Clayton22258274174744419.951.2118.732.11
15Kannapolis49750109968103107721.652.1919.462.07
16Carrboro21841314073843820.051.4218.631.74
17Sanford294836478210284628.692.1726.523.46
18Mooresville38340721018108109028.431.8826.552.82
19Lexington187541194896560832.426.3526.073.47
20Mint Hill27375584713252919.322.1217.211.17
21New Bern29600108940107104835.413.6531.763.61
22Jacksonville717152081763154197127.482.9024.582.15
23Rocky Mount540854201577188199736.927.7729.163.48
24Matthews328736694979101530.882.0128.872.40
25Kings Mountain10808374003943740.433.4237.013.61
26Greenville932354412707232314833.764.7329.032.49
27Havelock19870265303455627.981.3126.671.71
28Newton13121664534451939.555.0334.523.35
29Eden14952675305059739.934.4835.453.34
30Smithfield12507494544150340.223.9236.303.28
31Kernersville245716797083103742.202.7339.483.38
32High Point1125266523682289433438.525.7932.722.57
33Burlington533854141877168229142.917.7535.163.15
34Greensboro293298178098317811161139.596.0733.522.66
35Thomasville2659183100974109241.073.1237.952.78
36Belmont12331395504258947.773.1644.603.41
37Lenoir17904518456689650.042.8547.203.69
38Hickory407011601884138204450.223.9346.293.39
39Durham273759188197556411163642.506.8735.632.34
40Charlotte-Mecklenburg93123562283488123424110944.146.6937.462.51
41Asheboro25922117116880128549.574.5145.063.09
42Hope Mills162191046814478548.406.4141.992.71
43Reidsville137741046934979757.867.5550.313.56
44Elizabeth City176299593963103458.655.3953.263.57
45Salisbury33901236157993181553.546.9646.582.74
46Asheville931865524798283535057.415.9251.493.04
47Albemarle159911198535297260.787.4453.343.25
48Gastonia773165253839193436456.446.7949.652.50
49Kinston20341226130573153175.2711.1164.163.59
50Henderson1478026880444107272.5318.1354.402.98

Methodology

To identify the safest cities, we reviewed the most recent FBI Uniform Crime Report statistics. We eliminated any cities that failed to submit a complete crime report to the FBI and cities with populations under 10,000. This left 3,381 cities (out of a total of 9,251). 

There are two broad classifications of crimes: violent crimes and non-violent crimes. According to the FBI, “Violent crime is composed of four offenses: murder and non-negligent manslaughter, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. Violent crimes are defined in the UCR Program as those offenses that involve force or threat of force. Property crime includes the offenses of burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson. The object of the theft-type offenses is the taking of money or property, but there is no force or threat of force against the victims. ”

We computed the total number of crimes reported by each city by adding violent crimes and property crimes. We then created a crime rate as the number of crimes per 1,000 population. Then we transformed the total crime rate variable so that the skewness was reduced and normalized.

Data from 2,831 law enforcement agencies was then collected to determine police adequacy (TotalCrimes / Number of police employees).  We consider that the smaller the police adequacy statistic is, the safer the city is. This variable was also transformed and normalized.

Finally, the two variables were combined to create a safety score for each city.