No one wants to be a victim of robbery, so it’s important to be aware of any potential dangers in your area.
Robbery is considered a violent crime according to the FBI, whereas burglary, larceny, and theft all fall into the category of property crime. A robber uses force, violence or intimidation to take property directly from a person, while a burglar enters a building with the intention of committing a crime. A larcenist or thief takes property through deceit and never intends to give it back. Therefore, larceny and theft remain distinctly separate from robbery, but instances of burglary and robbery sometimes overlap.
Overall, robbery in the United States has been steadily declining for over 20 years, with the only significant increase occurring during 2005 and 2006. In 1998 — the first year appearing on the FBI’s data chart — the robbery rate per 10,000 inhabitants was 16.55. By 2017, the national robbery rate had declined to just 9.8 incidents per 10,000 people. Internationally, the U.S. had the 20th-highest robbery rate in 2017, a significant improvement over its 10th-place ranking in 2003.
Data from the FBI also indicate that most robbers use a firearm or physical force to cause intimidation, with approximately the same number of crimes being committed with one or the other. Regional differences also exist with regard to weapons used in robberies. For example, physical force (what the FBI calls “strong-arm”) was far more common than any other weapon in states such as California and New York. However, robbers in states such as Missouri and Nevada used firearms more than the strong-arm approach. A knife or other cutting instrument was the least likely weapon to be used in a robbery nationwide.
Robberies can occur in public or on private property, including in residences. The FBI tracks which locations seem to attract the greatest number of robberies, and it found that most happen on the street or highway. The location with the second-highest number of robberies was described simply as “miscellaneous.” After that, the most common places were, in order, residences, commercial houses, convenience stores, gas or service stations, and banks. But regional differences can also be seen when analyzing robbery locations. For example, in the South, residences accounted for 21.7% of all robbery locations, whereas only 9.6% of robberies in the West occurred in residences.
Fortunately, robberies seem to be declining, at least according to the most recent data from the FBI. From 2016 to 2017, robbery declined 3.8% in all cities and 4.5% in all suburban cities. Rates also dropped significantly in all metropolitan and nonmetropolitan counties, with the largest decrease (17.5%) occurring in metropolitan counties with a population of less than 25,000. In addition, the number of residential robberies decreased 7.3% from 2016 to 2017 on a national scale, even though they represented the second-highest average value for robbers.
With so many regional differences regarding robbery trends and statistics, how does your city compare to the national average? Discover which 15 cities have the highest rates of robberies per 10,000 residents in the United States.
Cities With High Rates of Robberies
1. Baltimore, Maryland
Number of robberies per 10,000 inhabitants: 81.3
Baltimore has the highest robbery rate in the U.S. by a significant amount. With 81.3 robberies per 10,000 residents, robbery in Baltimore occurs at more than twice the rate of most other cities on our list. However, according to the Baltimore Public Safety Dashboard, robberies have been decreasing each year. The COVID-19 shutdowns beginning in April 2020 seem to also correspond with a significant decrease in robbery in Baltimore. This decrease makes sense considering most incidents in Baltimore occur on the street. With fewer people leaving their homes during the pandemic, there are fewer people on the street to rob.
2. Cleveland, Ohio
Number of robberies per 10,000 inhabitants: 49.6
Although Cleveland’s robbery rate is the second-highest in the U.S., Ohio’s robbery rate has fallen below the U.S. average since 2017. Most robberies in the state are perpetrated by males in their 20s, and most victims are also males in their 20s. Ohio’s other major cities have significantly lower rates of robbery, with 11.7 per 10,000 reported in Columbus and 9.4 per 10,000 reported in Cincinnati in 2017.
3. Atlantic City, New Jersey
Number of robberies per 10,000 inhabitants: 48.4
Robberies throughout New Jersey used to be higher than the national average, but they fell below the national mean in 2016 and have since continued to decline. Despite these positive statewide trends, Atlantic City has the third-highest robbery rate in the nation. Its poverty rate is more than twice the national average, which could help explain why robberies are common here.
4. Memphis, Tennessee
Number of robberies per 10,000 inhabitants: 37.4
Tennessee has a higher rate of robbery than the U.S. average, with Memphis experiencing the highest rate at 37.4 per 10,000 people. For comparison, Nashville reported just 13.1 robberies per 10,000 inhabitants in 2017.
5. Stockton, California
Number of robberies per 10,000 inhabitants: 36.9
California’s robbery rates have largely mimicked national trends. Stockton has the highest rate of robbery in California and the fifth-highest in the nation. Possible motivators for robbery in the area include a poverty rate of 23.7% and an unemployment rate of 8.2%.
6. Trenton, New Jersey
Number of robberies per 10,000 inhabitants: 35.9
The second New Jersey city on this list, Trenton may experience more robberies than other cities due to its high poverty rate (27.6%) and high unemployment rate (9.6%). Income per capita in Trenton is just $17,130, whereas the national average is $29,829.
7. Monroe, Louisiana
Number of robberies per 10,000 inhabitants: 35.8
The poverty rate in Monroe is more than twice the national average (34.7% vs. 15.1%). Unemployment is also high in Monroe (7.2%), and the average per-capita income ($20,700) is lower than the national average ($29,829) and state average ($25,515). Interestingly, most of Louisiana’s robberies take place in residences.
8. Detroit, Michigan
Number of robberies per 10,000 inhabitants: 35.4
Overall, Michigan has a lower robbery rate than the U.S. average, but Detroit remains one of the cities with the highest robbery risks in the nation. Most robberies in Michigan involve a handgun, and if the offender is charged with more than just robbery, the most likely co-occurring charge in Michigan is burglary. The street remains the most common location for robberies in this state.
9. San Francisco, California
Number of robberies per 10,000 inhabitants: 34.5
San Francisco has a slightly lower robbery rate per 10,000 inhabitants compared to its neighbor to the east, Stockton. However, San Francisco has significantly better poverty rates (12.5%) and unemployment rates (4.3%), which seems to indicate that other socioeconomic disparities may drive the robbery rate in this city.
10. Washington, D.C.
Number of robberies per 10,000 inhabitants: 33.4
Robberies in Washington, D.C., occur at a significantly higher rate than the national average. The vast majority of robberies in Washington, D.C., take place at air, bus or train terminals, and most of the offenders are teenagers who target other teenagers.
11. Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Number of robberies per 10,000 inhabitants: 32.3
Wisconsin reported an increase in robberies from 2010 to 2015. Since then, robbery has been decreasing overall, but Milwaukee has the highest rate of robberies in the state and one of the highest in the nation. For comparison, Madison has the next-highest rate of robbery in the state at around 4.6 per 10,000 inhabitants.
12. Buffalo, New York
Number of robberies per 10,000 inhabitants: 31.4
New York’s sixth-largest city, Buffalo’s high poverty rate of 30% may contribute to the city’s high crime rate, according to Forbes. Robbery rates throughout New York have been falling sharply since 2012, although they have held steady since 2018 and have always remained higher than the national average.
13. Albuquerque, New Mexico
Number of robberies per 10,000 inhabitants: 30.2
Since 2010, robberies have been increasing in New Mexico. They spiked in 2017 before decreasing again over the next two years. The other two major metropolitan areas in New Mexico experienced much lower rates of robbery per 10,000 inhabitants: 5.8 in Farmington and 4.7 in Santa Fe. The FBI does not have demographic data for New Mexico crimes at this time.
14. Minneapolis, Minnesota
Number of robberies per 10,000 inhabitants: 29.9
Robbery rates in Minnesota held steady between 2010 and 2017 and declined sharply in 2018. The year 2019 saw a small statewide increase in robbery again. Most Minnesota cities reported robbery rates between two and four per 10,000.
15. Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Number of robberies per 10,000 inhabitants: 29.2
Baton Rouge’s high poverty rate (26.1%) could explain why it has a robbery rate higher than the national average, even though the per-capita income for Baton Rouge ($25,398) is about average for the state.
Are you surprised by the list of cities with high rates of robberies? It seems that robbery rates aren’t strictly related to population or even population density. Instead, cities with higher poverty and unemployment rates tend to experience more robberies. However, some anomalies — like San Francisco — do exist. Other places, such as Washington, D.C., deviate from average robbery statistics in terms of offender and victim demographics and the typical location of a robbery.
To create this list, we collected data from the FBI’s latest crime report (2018). We converted the figures to robberies per 10,000 residents rather than robberies per 100,000 residents and ranked the cities accordingly.