Study: Safest Cities in California 2016

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Where does your hometown fall in this list of the safest cities in California? The top cities may surprise you.

Safest Cities in California 2016
Safest Cities in California 2016 © CreditDonkey

California is home to more people than any other U.S. state. But just because there’s a higher number of residents doesn’t mean it has a higher crime rate to match. In fact, the Golden State has seen a steady decline in crime over the last three decades.

Data from California Attorney General’s office and the state Department of Justice show that in 2014, crime went down in just about every offense category. Robbery (e.g. when someone takes something from someone else by force or threat of force) and burglary (e.g. when someone breaks into a house) saw two of the steepest drops, decreasing by 10% and 15% respectively. When compared to the rest of the country, California’s property and violent crime rates are more or less in line with the national average.

The 50 cities we’ve included as the safest in California feature individual crime rates that are below the norm for the state as a whole. Several cities had zero reports of certain crimes in 2014, such as rape, murder, aggravated assault and robbery.

If you’re planning a move to California or you’re a current resident who will soon be relocating, you can rely on this list a helpful guide for finding a California city where you can sleep easy.

Methodology

In general, smaller communities tend to have less crime. To begin our study, we narrowed the field by excluding cities with a population of less than 10,000 residents.

Next, we analyzed FBI Crime Report data for 2014 to measure different types of crime in each city. For violent crime, we considered the number of murders, rapes, robberies, and aggravated assaults in each city. For property crimes, we looked at the number of burglaries, larcenies, motor vehicle thefts, and arsons.

To come up with the 50 safest cities, we focused on four specific factors:

  • Number of violent crimes per 1,000 residents
  • Number of robberies per 1,000 residents*
  • Number of property crimes per 1,000 residents
  • Number of burglaries per 1,000 residents*

Our sense of feeling safe begins in the home. Can we feel confident about keeping our door unlocked, or should we sleep with one eye open?

*Our paranoia about break-ins had us focusing on robbery and burglary rates in particular (even though they are already included in violent crime and property crime tallies) because they are so frequent. Using these four criteria, we were able to assign each city a CreditDonkey safety score. The top 50 cities are ranked according to their safety score. The lower a city scored, the higher it went on our list.

Safest Cities 2016: Rankings

50. Camarillo

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 1.1
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.3
  • Property crime 1,000: 14.6
  • Burglary per 1,000: 2.3
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 4.572

Camarillo, a midsize city of more than 66,000 residents, is situated a little over 50 miles northwest of Los Angeles. People flock to this bedroom community to enjoy its warmer climate and scenic views of the nearby Santa Monica Mountains. The city made it onto our list largely thanks to its low violent crime rate. Camarillo is just one of several cities in our rankings that reported zero murders in 2014.

Camarillo is renowned for having some of the best climate in the world.

The city has more premium outlet stores (160) than any city in CA. We are just three miles south of the city is Cal State Channel Islands (CSUCI).
John Fraser, Sr Management Analyst, City of Camarillo

49. Belmont

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 1.3
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.3
  • Property crime 1,000: 13.8
  • Burglary per 1,000: 2.8
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 4.565

About 27,000 people make their home in Belmont, which sits on the San Francisco Bay peninsula. The city is a hit with younger workers who have their sights set on breaking into the thriving tech industry in the area, but there’s a healthy number of retirees living here as well. The city scores well in terms of both violent and property crimes, with zero murders and nine robberies reported for 2014.

48. Chino Hills

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 0.8
  • Robbery per 1,000: 2.2
  • Property crime 1,000: 13.4
  • Burglary per 1,000: 3.4
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 4.446

The city of Chino Hills has earned a solid reputation for being a desirable place to settle down. Ranked 34th on Money magazine’s 2012 list of the “100 Best Places to Live,” it’s also been recognized as one of the country’s best communities for young people. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median monthly mortgage payment was just over $2,600 as of 2014, but to residents who are seeking a safe place to call home, the cost may seem well worth it.

47. La Mirada

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 1.8
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.4
  • Property crime 1,000: 12.9
  • Burglary per 1,000: 2.5
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 4.419

La Mirada is tucked away in southeastern Los Angeles County, in between Los Angeles and Anaheim. Like Chino Hills, it’s also been selected as one of Money magazine’s best places to live, and it ranked third overall for the state of California. Part of its popularity can be chalked up to the low occurrence of crime. The city’s crime rate hit a 28-year low in 2014, with the number of burglaries nearly cut in half from the previous year.

46. La Puente

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 3.4
  • Robbery per 1,000: 1.2
  • Property crime 1,000: 10.8
  • Burglary per 1,000: 2.2
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 4.398

La Puente is another L.A. County city to make our list. One of the city’s most recognizable landmarks is The Donut Hole, a drive-through bakery shaped like two giant donuts. Even though its population tops 40,000, La Puente manages to retain a small-town feel, which is due in part to its low crime rate. It has one of the lowest per capita property crime rates in our rankings.

45. Dana Point

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 2.1
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.2
  • Property crime 1,000: 13.5
  • Burglary per 1,000: 1.8
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 4.395

If you’re looking to move someplace safe with an oceanfront view, Dana Point is a worthy contender. Aside from 7 miles of coastline where you can soak up the sun, there are also plenty of biking and walking trails you can safely explore. Violent crime here is a relatively rarity, with a zero murder rate for 2014 and seven robberies reported over the same period. Burglary is also less common here compared to some of the other California cities we researched.

44. Mill Valley

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 0.8
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.1
  • Property crime 1,000: 13.0
  • Burglary per 1,000: 3.4
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 4.337

Mill Valley is one of the smallest cities in our rankings, with a population of just over 14,000, but that bodes well when it comes to the crime rate. For 2014, the city reported zero murders and only two robberies. Mill Valley rates higher on the cost of living scale, with homeowners paying a median of $4,000 a month for a mortgage. Fortunately, the median household income is also higher, topping $132,000 for 2014.

43. Temple City

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 1.2
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.3
  • Property crime 1,000: 11.8
  • Burglary per 1,000: 4.0
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 4.335

Temple City places a heavy emphasis on community and there are plenty of opportunities for new residents and natives to stay active. There are after-school programs and winter camps for kids and teens while adults can go on one-day outings to see the sights nearby. There were fewer than a dozen robberies in 2014. The sense of security residents feel only adds to the quality of life here.

42. Oakley

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 1.2
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.4
  • Property crime 1,000: 12.1
  • Burglary per 1,000: 3.4
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 4.273

Incorporated in 1999, Oakley is one of California’s youngest cities, but it’s quickly established itself as an attractive destination for families. The city’s name evokes the presence of the many oak trees that dot the landscape and there’s a lot of green space to enjoy. The fact that it rates well for safety makes it that much more appealing to new residents who are looking for a quiet place to raise children.

What is the secret to Oakley's success? Here's one answer:

Its residents continue to look out for each other.

We still are a small community and a great part of the population of Oakley has been here all their lives, most of its residents have developed long lasting relationships with each other. By establishing this need to look out for one another it creates a safer environment.

Oakley has great people and there are countless acts of kindness occurring each day. We have a gentleman that dines at our local establishments and will randomly buy a family next to him breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Kristin Mattingly, Oakley Chamber of Commerce Secretary, former Chamber President 2013-2015

41. Simi Valley

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 1.1
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.2
  • Property crime 1,000: 12.8
  • Burglary per 1,000: 2.7
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 4.206

History buffs will enjoy exploring Simi Valley’s roots. The area where the city is located was once inhabited by the Chumash people, dating back more than 10,000 years. Today, it’s a bustling city of more than 126,000 residents. Thanks to programs like the Citizens Academy, Simi Valley passes the safety test with flying colors in terms of both violent and property crime. In 2014, local law enforcement reported the lowest per capita crime rate in the city’s history.

Simi Valley has always been one of the safest cities in America.

2015 crime numbers were better than 2014 which were better than 2013 and 2015 is now the lowest per capita crime rate in the City’s history.

Brian Gabler, Director of Economic Development/Assistant City Manager, City of Simi Valley

40. Murrieta

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 0.6
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.2
  • Property crime 1,000: 13.5
  • Burglary per 1,000: 2.4
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 4.171

Murrieta is one of the fastest growing cities in the state, with an annual population growth rate that’s 1.5% higher than the national average. There’s a strong emphasis on community partnership between law enforcement and citizens, which may be a contributing factor to the city’s low crime rate. The violent crime rate per capita is one of the lowest of any of the 50 cities we’ve profiled, which has solidified its reputation as one of the safest places in the country.

How does Murrieta have such a low crime rate? Here's one answer:

Consider for a moment if you lived in a very idyllic, family-oriented, safe community, with good schools and plenty of activities for your children. Wouldn’t you be engaged too, to ensure that it stayed that way? That is Murrieta.

A good deal of the low crime rate is attributable to our Police Department.

Most of our officers live in town and feel a strong sense of ownership and watchfulness over their community. It is not uncommon for an off-duty officer to see something questionable and call it in, keeping an eye on a suspect until the uniformed officers arrive.

Some of it is demographics. We have a well-educated community, very family oriented, who have good paying jobs. Because Murrieta is not a job center, people commute to work. In some cases, they commute quite a distance. But they chose Murrieta because of the family values, the safety, the good schools, etc.

In other words, people chose to live here because we have what they want. Most people do not just ”happen” to be in Murrieta. This has an effect on crime.

The residents take the same type ownership of their community that our police officers do. They are very diligent about letting us know if there is something going on that does not look right; and they know that our officer will respond to investigate. This builds trust between the PD and the community.

We have outstanding schools – our school district consistently scores in the Exemplary category of the state’s Academic Performance Index (above 800). I believe last year’s API was 853. In addition to academics, the district has numerous extracurricular activities that routinely win national, and even international awards and recognition (robotics, virtual enterprise, athletics, etc.). Clearly, our district engages the students, which keeps them from errant activities.

We are updating our computer aided dispatch system that helps both fire and police. It will help provide better analysis that improves preventative efforts through trend analysis. And, like so many other departments nationwide, we are moving towards body-worn cameras.
Rick Dudley, City Manager of Murrieta

39. Avenal

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 1.3
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.5
  • Property crime 1,000: 11.1
  • Burglary per 1,000: 3.8
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 4.168

Avenal is part of King’s County, which has seen a decrease in violent assaults in recent years. Like Murrieta, Avenal takes a community-based policing approach, with officers assigned to specific zones around the city. Community involvement is also encouraged through the ride-along program and the Police Activities League, which connects youth with law enforcement mentors in an effort to cut down on juvenile delinquency.

38. Santa Clarita

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 1.5
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.4
  • Property crime 1,000: 11.8
  • Burglary per 1,000: 3.0
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 4.167

Santa Clarita is the third-largest city in Los Angeles County, and according to Parenting magazine, it’s the third safest city in the nation with a population over 100,000. With more than 213,500 residents, it’s the second-largest city to earn a spot in our rankings but amazingly, only one murder was reported here in 2014. The Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Office contributes to residents’ overall sense of well-being through initiatives like the Community Oriented Policing Program, Explorer Program and efforts aimed at maintaining peaceful communications between neighbors.

37. Thousand Oaks

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 1.0
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.2
  • Property crime 1,000: 12.4
  • Burglary per 1,000: 2.8
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 4.076

Despite its larger size, Thousand Oaks ranks as one of Ventura County’s safer cities. There were 20 robberies reported through November 2015, which is on par with the number reported for 2014. The burglary rate is also relatively low, considering that more than 129,000 people make their home in the Thousand Oaks area. The median home value is just over $600,000, which may increase the likelihood of homeowners installing security systems to deter crime.

36. Rancho Palos Verdes

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 0.6
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.2
  • Property crime 1,000: 11.1
  • Burglary per 1,000: 4.2
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 4.016

Rancho Palos Verdes overlooks the Palos Verdes Peninsula, offering some breathtaking views to residents. People of all ages make their home here, but it’s particularly popular among retirees (nearly a quarter of the population is over age 65). Robbery is uncommon and the per capita crime rate for this offense is among the lowest reported in our study. Rancho Palos Verdes features a higher cost of living compared to other California cities, but it’s highly livable, especially with regard to safety.

35. Walnut

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 1.0
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.3
  • Property crime 1,000: 9.7
  • Burglary per 1,000: 4.7
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 3.897

Walnut has made multiple appearances on Money’s Best Places to Live list, and it’s also been recognized by Bloomberg BusinessWeek as an ideal spot to raise kids. At just under 30,000 residents, the city is small but it’s growing at a steady clip. Education is something that the locals care strongly about, and just over half the population holds a bachelor’s degree or higher. Top-notch schools and a below average crime rate combine to make Walnut a winner for families.

34. Hercules

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 1.1
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.6
  • Property crime 1,000: 11.4
  • Burglary per 1,000: 2.4
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 3.886

Once voted one of Forbes’ “Most Livable Metro Area Suburbs,” Hercules is a well-kept community of about 25,000 people. The city, located about halfway between San Francisco and Napa, is convenient to plenty of places in the Bay Area. Crime has been taking a steady downturn in recent years and that could continue. Law enforcement officers recently got the green light for body cameras, which may reduce crime further.

33. Irvine

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 0.5
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.1
  • Property crime 1,000: 12.5
  • Burglary per 1,000: 2.4
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 3.885

With nearly 243,000 residents, Irvine stands out as the most populated city in our rankings. In a city of this size, you’d expect crime to be a problem but residents here can tell you that’s not the case. Irvine ties with several other cities on our list for the lowest violent robbery rate per capita, with 36 incidents reported in 2014. In fact, the city had the lowest violent crime rate nationwide among cities with 100,000 residents or more, according to a September 2015 report.

What makes Irvine so safe? Here's one answer:

I believe being a safe community begins with a City Manager and City Council who consistently make public safety a key priority and ensure that the Irvine Police Department have the necessary resources to serve the community.

Since 2003, the Irvine Police Department has used a contemporary community policy model known as geographic policing. The City of Irvine is divided into three geographic areas supported by three Area Commanders and a team of supervisors, patrol officers, traffic officers, investigators and civilian support staff. Through the use of geographic policing, our patrol officers are inherently familiar with specific areas of the City and are able to more effectively prevent crime, provide greater police services and build greater relationships with the community.

Of course, many other factors contribute to the City of Irvine being a safe city. For example:

  • The Irvine Police Department operates a comprehensive Crime Analysis Unit which is responsible for analyzing crime trends and uses various technologies to direct police resources to solve crimes and prevent new crimes from occurring.

  • The Irvine Police Department is committed to ensuring that planned residential projects and commercial development adhere to the principles of Crime Prevention through Environmental Design commonly referred to as CPTED. The use of CPTED takes into consideration design factors such as access points, lighting, open space, pathways and vegetation to enhance public safety by deterring criminal activity.

  • The Irvine Police Department is the only law enforcement agency in Orange County that operates a D.A.R.E. program to empower children to make informed decisions related to illicit drugs, bullying, healthy friendships and viewing the internet. The D.A.R.E. curriculum is taught by three dedicated D.A.R.E. Officers who teach the program at 25 elementary schools. During the past 29 years, approximately 55,000 students have graduated from the D.A.R.E. program. The Irvine Police Department also employs School Resource Officers at each high school and a Middle School Resource Officer to ensure the safety of students and to assist at-risk Irvine youth.

  • In 2014, the Irvine Police Department initiated a Mental Health Liaison Officer program. As part of this assignment, a police officer works with therapists to provide resources to Irvine residents suffering from mental health issues. The Mental Health Liaison Officer conducts follow-up outreach and engagement with mentally ill individuals who have come in contact with the police department as a result of a 9-1-1 call or other call for service. Upon arriving at the individual’s home or predetermined place of their choosing, the officer and clinician partners work to build rapport with the individual in an effort to connect the individual with community resources and follow-up support. The mission of the Mental Health Liaison Officer is to establish positive relationships with the mentally ill in an effort to prevent future emergency calls requiring a police officer response.

  • In 2007, the Irvine Police Department established the Area Traffic Officer program to address traffic related concerns through education, engineering and enforcement. The Area Traffic Officers collaborate with area motor officers, patrol officers, traffic engineers and land use planners to establish long-term solutions to traffic issues that impact schools, retail centers, residential areas and construction zones. It should be noted that the Irvine Police Department also employs 44 crossing guards at key locations to ensure the safety of children who walk or ride a bicycle to school.

  • The Irvine Police Department Crime Prevention Unit works proactively to communicate with the public to prevent crimes associated with thefts from fitness centers, homes and vehicles. The Crime Prevention Unit also works with local retail businesses in an effort to reduce shoplifting. Lastly, the Crime Prevention Unit hosts Police/Private Security Partnership meetings for the business community and alarm/security firms with clients in the City of Irvine. The partnership is intended to share security-related information regarding a wide variety of topics such as terrorism, fire safety for businesses, business contingency planning, security, and workplace violence.

Sean Joyce, City Manager, City of Irvine

32. Truckee

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 1.1
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.2
  • Property crime 1,000: 10.1
  • Burglary per 1,000: 4.1
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 3.883

As far as smaller cities go, Truckee oozes charm as a hotspot among vacationers who want to explore the rugged beauty of the Sierra Nevada Mountains or go fishing at Donner Lake. Fortunately, the steady flow of traffic the city sees from outsiders doesn’t have a negative impact on its crime rate. Violent crime is a rarity, and residents appreciate the sense of safety that permeates everyday life.

31. Agoura Hills

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 0.8
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.1
  • Property crime 1,000: 11.3
  • Burglary per 1,000: 3.2
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 3.852

Agoura Hills features some beautiful landscapes, but that’s not the only thing that makes it a desirable place to live. Echoes of its historic roots can still be seen in the city’s architecture, while modern conveniences can be found around every turn. Safety is front and center, and the Volunteers on Patrol program gives locals the opportunity to work with law enforcement to deter crime. As evidence of the program’s effectiveness, Agoura Hills reported only 17 robberies in 2014, two fewer than the previous year.

30. Los Altos

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 0.2
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.1
  • Property crime 1,000: 10.6
  • Burglary per 1,000: 3.9
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 3.718

If education is an important to you when deciding where to live, Los Altos may be just what you’re looking for. The city was dubbed the second most educated spot in the state of California in 2011, and 79% of the population holds a bachelor’s degree or higher. The local school system consistently earns top marks and that, paired with the fact that the city reported just seven violent crimes for all of 2014, makes it a dream location for families.

29. Maywood

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 3.2
  • Robbery per 1,000: 1.3
  • Property crime 1,000: 9.0
  • Burglary per 1,000: 1.4
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 3.710

Maywood is small in size but it packs a big punch in terms of the overall quality of life residents enjoy. Safety plays an important part in that and burglaries occur much more infrequently compared to some of the larger cities in our rankings. Although it’s less than 10 miles from Los Angeles, Maywood is insulated to a degree from the higher crime rates that typically go along with living near a larger city.

28. Soledad

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 2.1
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.3
  • Property crime 1,000: 9.0
  • Burglary per 1,000: 3.4
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 3.701

Soledad has seen its population shrink slightly over the last few years, but it’s still holding strong with nearly 26,000 residents. Tucked away in the Salinas Valley, one of the city’s main claims to fame is its role as the backdrop for John Steinbeck’s 1937 novel Of Mice and Men. While Soledad’s name translates roughly to “solitude,” you’ll feel anything but lonely here, not to mention safe and secure.

27. Canyon Lake

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 1.2
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.3
  • Property crime 1,000: 11.7
  • Burglary per 1,000: 1.6
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 3.686

Canyon Lake is one of only five gated cities in California and with a population just shy of 11,000 people it represents the smallest city in our rankings. There’s been a steady influx of new residents over the last five years and the growth rate has outpaced the national average by a full percentage point. Both violent crime and property crime are rarities; in 2014, there were a total of three robberies and 18 burglaries.

26. Windsor

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 3.1
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.4
  • Property crime 1,000: 9.3
  • Burglary per 1,000: 1.9
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 3.684

As part of the Sonoma Wine Country, Windsor is often frequented by out-of-towners, but it’s home to just over 27,000 full-time residents who appreciate all it has to offer. The unemployment rate is below the national average, and nearly 75% of locals own their homes, which suggests that Windsor is the kind of place where people are comfortable putting down permanent roots. The city is very family-oriented and it offers a safe environment for raising kids.

25. Calabasas

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 0.8
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.2
  • Property crime 1,000: 10.4
  • Burglary per 1,000: 3.3
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 3.679

Calabasas is nestled in the Santa Monica Mountains, and the surrounding hills give it an almost cozy feel. The city features a number of upscale neighborhoods and the median home value checks in at just over $1 million. Fortunately, robbery isn’t a major concern among Calabasas residents and there were just six such incidents reported in 2014.

24. San Juan Capistrano

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 1.7
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.4
  • Property crime 1,000: 10.6
  • Burglary per 1,000: 1.7
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 3.599

San Juan Capistrano is noteworthy for a number of reasons. Not only is it the oldest city in Orange County and the self-proclaimed Equestrian Capital of the West Coast, but it’s also famed for the mission that was established here 240 years ago. More than 1,500 people have moved into the city since 2010 seeking a safe haven, including a number of new retirees.

23. Saratoga

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 0.6
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.1
  • Property crime 1,000: 9.3
  • Burglary per 1,000: 4.4
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 3.575

Saratoga has been lauded in the press time and again as an attractive place to live. It’s been ranked by CNN/Money as one of the nation’s top-earning towns and as one of the country’s most educated small towns by Forbes. We’ve included it in our rankings because it scored extremely well in terms of violent and property crime. The robbery rate is exceptionally low and in 2014, there were only two instances reported.

22. Clayton

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 0.3
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.2
  • Property crime 1,000: 9.5
  • Burglary per 1,000: 4.1
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 3.542

With around 11,600 residents, Clayton is far from a major metropolis but good things come in small packages. Because it is so small, law enforcement encourages residents to watch out for another, particularly where crime is concerned. There’s a community Neighborhood Watch program in place and a separate Vacation Watch program for homeowners who want to make sure their property is secure while they’re away.

Did you know:

Clayton is researching a camera system to install at each vehicular entrance points of the city. Due to small town size and community policing skills, our officers are observant as to vehicles in town that are unfamiliar and they enforce speed limits.

Clayton residents look after one another and readily report suspicious activities or behaviors. They also are added eyes and ears in our community.
Gary Napper, City Manager of Clayton

21. Foster City

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 0.4
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.1
  • Property crime 1,000: 11.1
  • Burglary per 1,000: 2.5
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 3.525

Located in San Mateo County, Foster City has seen some rapid growth in recent years. The population has increased by over 7% since 2010, which is more than double the rate for the rest of the country. Its proximity to Silicon Valley makes it a big hit among tech-minded job hunters and the median household income approaches $115,000 annually. When you factor in things like great schools, a low crime rate, and a thriving housing market, it’s easy to see why newcomers are arriving in droves.

20. Hillsborough

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 0.1
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.0
  • Property crime 1,000: 9.0
  • Burglary per 1,000: 4.8
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 3.492

Hillsborough is just minutes away from Foster City and like its neighbor, it’s an up-and-coming town. Housing is quite a bit pricier here, but residents are taking home a median annual salary of around $250,000. In terms of safety, Hillsborough sets itself apart from the crowd with just one reported violent crime in 2014. It also boasts the third lowest property crime rate in our study.

19. San Clemente

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 1.1
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.3
  • Property crime 1,000: 10.5
  • Burglary per 1,000: 2.0
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 3.448

Whether you prefer surf or turf, San Clemente has plenty of both. This Orange County city lies along the coast, about halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego. Surfing is a major pastime and it was voted one of the “Best Surf Towns” by Surfer magazine. While the locals may worry about when they’ll catch their next wave, one thing they aren’t overly concerned with is crime, which is not as common as you’d expect in a city of 65,000 people.

18. Orinda

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 0.2
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.1
  • Property crime 1,000: 9.9
  • Burglary per 1,000: 3.3
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 3.372

Orinda has been rated one of the nation’s friendliest cities and this close-knit community is well-suited to families, young professionals and retirees who are seeking an escape from the business of nearby San Francisco. Its natural beauty also makes it a hit with outdoor enthusiasts. The city ranks exceptionally well for violent crime and in 2014, there were just four violent crimes reported, including two robberies.

17. Lincoln

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 0.4
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.2
  • Property crime 1,000: 10.1
  • Burglary per 1,000: 2.7
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 3.336

Lincoln got its start as a railroad town, but it’s shaping up to be a major city in its own right. Since 2010, the population has increased by more than 7% and the city is especially popular among retirees. Close to 46,000 people reside in Lincoln and they do so in relative safety. The violent crime rate in particular is well below the national average and the city earns a solid rating in both the robbery and burglary categories.

16. San Ramon

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 0.3
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.1
  • Property crime 1,000: 10
  • Burglary per 1,000: 2.8
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 3.301

Thanks to the presence of major corporations like Chevron, AT&T, GE Digital Center, and Robert Half, San Ramon is an excellent place to launch a career (and there are plenty of young professionals living in the area). Residents take home a median income of $129,000 annually and home values have been creeping up steadily since 2012. One thing residents don’t have to worry about increasing here is crime. The overall violent crime rate and the individual rates for robbery and burglary are some of the lowest in our rankings.

With some of the best schools in the state as well as one of the safest communities in California, San Ramon is a great place to raise a family.
Eric Figueroa, Assistant City Manager, San Ramon

15. Fillmore

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 3.0
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.2
  • Property crime 1,000: 8.0
  • Burglary per 1,000: 2.0
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 3.298

Fillmore has its roots in agriculture, and the local economy remains largely centered on farming. With about 15,000 residents, Fillmore is on the small side but it’s convenient to larger metro areas like Santa Clarita. It’s also a fairly short drive to the beaches of Ventura. Locals appreciate Fillmore’s quaint charm and the sense of safety that comes with living here. In 2014, just three robberies and 31 burglaries were reported.

14. Yorba Linda

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 0.7
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.1
  • Property crime 1,000: 10.4
  • Burglary per 1,000: 2.1
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 3.298

Located just northeast of Santa Ana, Yorba Linda is one of Orange County’s fastest growing cities. The motto here is the “Land of gracious living,” and residents are certainly grateful for the high-quality schools, beautiful neighborhoods, and safe surroundings the city offers. The overall crime rate is lower than both the state and national averages and the low frequency of robbery and burglary helped to push it closer to the top of our rankings.

13. Palos Verdes Estates

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 0.4
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.0
  • Property crime 1,000: 8.9
  • Burglary per 1,000: 3.8
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 3.256

Palos Verdes Estates, one of L.A. County’s most affluent communities, is also the oldest city on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. The median home value hovers near $2 million and residents earn a median income of over $170,000 annually. While living here comes with a high price tag, one of the perks locals enjoy is a low crime rate. Violent crime is practically nonexistent and the number of property crimes reported in 2014 is one of the lowest on our list.

12. Danville

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 0.4
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.0
  • Property crime 1,000: 10
  • Burglary per 1,000: 2.5
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 3.233

The town of Danville can be found in the San Ramon Valley. Like Palos Verdes Estates, it’s more prosperous in terms of home values and what residents earn. Danville residents are highly educated and 64% of the town’s population holds a bachelor’s degree. As a suburb of Oakland, Danville manages to capture the essence of small-town living, which in part translates to a lower crime rate overall.

Did you know:

We are working on a project that entails the use of license plate recognition cameras in strategic points around our community.

The goal here is to help prevent crime and the tactic has been used in other California communities to much success. The cameras record the license plates of passing cars into a database. Our investigators would use that database as a resource after crime occurs; they will be able to see which license plates left the scene of a crime and have a lead to work on in the hopes of solving the case.
Steve Simpkins, Chief of Police, Town of Danville

11. Poway

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 1.4
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.3
  • Property crime 1,000: 8.8
  • Burglary per 1,000: 2.0
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 3.098

Poway, which lies roughly 23 miles north of San Diego, dubs itself “The City in the Country” thanks to its rugged surroundings. With miles of open space, affordable housing, a thriving small business community and exceptional schools, there’s really something here for everyone. The one thing you won’t find a lot of, however, is crime. The city reported zero murders in 2014 and just 13 robberies.

Did you know:

Poway is uniquely situated as an expansive rural community that is not readily accessible from major transportation corridors.

We also enjoy healthy demographics with higher-than-average household incomes and education levels, coupled with high levels of civic engagement and active residents. This has contributed to our overall health and well-being as a City, but more than anything else, our elected officials have consistently made public safety our highest priority.

  • We are examining a restructuring in our Fire Department that will provide better service levels during significant events.
  • We hired an emergency services coordinator who is working with our citizens and non-profit groups to increase levels of preparedness in our community
  • We are re-investing in equipment and tools that assist our undercover efforts to address the most criminal elements of society.

Dan Singer, City Manager of Poway

10. Sierra Madre

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 1.2
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.0
  • Property crime 1,000: 8.3
  • Burglary per 1,000: 2.3
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 2.931

The town of Sierra Madre is just down the road from Pasadena, but it’s just a fraction of the size of its larger neighbor. The city has a long and storied history and the 11,000 people who live here enjoy a serene atmosphere where crime is a rarity. In 2014, there were no robberies reported and just 25 burglaries.

9. Lake Forest

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 1.3
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.2
  • Property crime 1,000: 8.6
  • Burglary per 1,000: 1.6
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 2.919

Nearly 80,000 people hang their hats in Lake Forest and in a city that size, putting a lid on crime has to be a top priority for law enforcement. The Lake Forest Police Department is proactive about crime prevention and the “Don’t Make It Easy” program is designed to educate residents about how to stay safe. If the city’s crime rate is any indication, efforts by police to deter criminals seem to be working.

8. Laguna Niguel

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 1.1
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.3
  • Property crime 1,000: 8.5
  • Burglary per 1,000: 1.5
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 2.868

Laguna Niguel is a family-friendly, master-planned community located in South Orange County. The city offers panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean, lots of community-focused events and plenty of beautiful outdoor space. The City contracts with the Orange County Sheriff's Department for law enforcement services and prizes citizen involvement in crime-fighting efforts. Programs such as Neighborhood Watch, Business Watch, You Are Not Alone (YANA), and the City's Police Auxiliary Citizens Team (PACT) offer residents an increased sense of security.

7. Mission Viejo

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 0.7
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.2
  • Property crime 1,000: 8.9
  • Burglary per 1,000: 1.5
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 2.844

Mission Viejo has close to 100,000 residents, but its larger population doesn’t reflect a higher crime rate. In fact, it has a remarkably low number of reported burglaries and robberies for a city of its size. That may be due to the fact that the city contracts with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office for police services. This helps Mission Viejo benefit from all of the OCSD programs, services and resources to deter crime.

6. Moraga

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 0.5
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.0
  • Property crime 1,000: 8.8
  • Burglary per 1,000: 1.9
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 2.817

More of a town than a city, Moraga is situated in Contra Costa County close to the Bay Area. For the nearly 17,000 people who live here, it’s an ideal spot to seek out peace and quiet. In 2014, Moraga reported eight violent crimes in all, and only a handful of cities in our rankings can boast a figure lower than that. There are no robberies on record during that time frame and burglaries were also infrequent.

5. Moorpark

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 1.1
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.2
  • Property crime 1,000: 7.8
  • Burglary per 1,000: 1.0
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 2.535

Moorpark made it into the top five based largely on the low number of robberies and burglaries occurring in the area. For 2014, there were six robberies and 36 burglaries reported to law enforcement. While the low crime rate is one thing that draws people here, it’s also a great place to start a business, raise a family or spend your golden years.

4. Laguna Woods

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 0.4
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.2
  • Property crime 1,000: 7.2
  • Burglary per 1,000: 0.5
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 2.063

Laguna Woods is one of Southern California’s premier retirement destinations and nearly 80% of the population is over the age of 65. An abundance of affordable housing, close proximity to shopping and dining and a lack of crime all make it a favorite among the older crowd. The city ranks second overall for the number of burglaries, with just nine incidents on record for 2014.

3. Aliso Viejo

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 0.7
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.1
  • Property crime 1,000: 5.4
  • Burglary per 1,000: 0.9
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 1.766

Aliso Viejo is close to both Laguna Woods and Laguna Niguel and like its neighbors, it enjoys one of the lowest crime rates in our rankings. In 2009, it was named by Forbes as one of the nation’s Top 25 Towns to Live Well, and it’s easy to see why. There’s no shortage of job opportunities, the schools offer an award-winning educational experience and the natural surroundings make it easy to feel right at home.

2. Rancho Santa Margarita

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 0.5
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.1
  • Property crime 1,000: 4.1
  • Burglary per 1,000: 0.8
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 1.362

Rancho Santa Margarita, one of Orange County’s younger cities, has made a name for itself as one of California’s safest places to live. There was just one robbery reported for 2014 and 39 burglaries. Those figures put it well below the state and national average crime rates. The quality of life here is hard to beat, and that can be chalked up in part to the efforts put forth by local law enforcement to keep citizens safe.

Like a small village:

Our town is a cul de sac and only those that have a reason to come here come, our community is like a small village everyone looks for out for others and truly respects each other.

We recently had an incident where a home was burned due to a dryer vent, the family lost everything. Our community gathered together and raised $15,000 in cash and donated many other much needed items.

People will pay for coffee at Starbucks for the next 20 - 50 persons in line.

Our community has a lot of involvement with residents in passing out Food Pantry items, working with the Elderly to ensure they have assistance they may need.

There are so many things that make Rancho Santa Margarita as wonderful as it is…. it starts with the residents…. genuine and big hearted neighbors!
Suzanne Singh, President, Rancho Santa Margarita Chamber of Commerce

1. Imperial

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 0.3
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.1
  • Property crime 1,000: 2.8
  • Burglary per 1,000: 0.4
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 0.877

Imperial gets the thumbs-up from golf enthusiasts but that’s not the only reason to love it here. Between parks, shopping and community events, there’s always something to see or do. On the crime front, Imperial made it to the top of our rankings with the lowest violent crime and property crime rates overall. There were just five violent crimes and 46 property crimes for all of 2014, with only one robbery and an astoundingly low six burglaries.

FINAL WORD

If your hometown didn’t make the cut, don’t fret. Not every California city reports its crime data to the FBI, which may explain why it’s not in our rankings.

Otherwise, if your community is not on this list and you’re not sure if you should bother with a home security system, consider some inexpensive ways to deter a burglary.

The Top 50 Safest Cities in California

RankCityPopulationTotal # of Violent Crimes1Total # of Property Crimes2Violent Crime Per 1,000Robbery Per 1,000Property Crime Per 1,000Burglary Per 1,000
1Imperial16,5355460.30.12.80.4
2Rancho Santa Margarita49,558272030.50.04.10.8
3Aliso Viejo50,671352730.70.15.40.9
4Laguna Woods16,48061180.40.27.20.5
5Moorpark35,299392771.10.27.81.0
6Moraga16,95381500.50.08.81.9
7Mission Viejo97,124718640.70.28.91.5
8Laguna Niguel65,033735541.10.38.51.5
9Lake Forest79,7481046821.30.28.61.6
10Sierra Madre11,09013921.20.08.32.3
11Poway49,786704361.40.38.82.0
12Danville43,685174390.40.010.02.5
13Palos Verdes Estates13,66851210.40.08.93.8
14Yorba Linda67,702457020.70.110.42.1
15Fillmore15,311461223.00.28.02.0
16San Ramon75,049237480.30.110.02.8
17Lincoln45,792174630.40.210.12.7
18Orinda18,90441870.20.19.93.3
19San Clemente65,397696871.10.310.52.0
20Hillsborough11,38211030.10.09.04.8
21Foster City32,836143660.40.111.12.5
22Clayton11,64641110.30.29.54.1
23Saratoga31,122192880.60.19.34.4
24San Juan Capistrano36,124623831.70.410.61.7
25Calabasas24,325192520.80.210.43.3
26Windsor27,350862543.10.49.31.9
27Canyon Lake10,987131281.20.311.71.6
28Soledad25,807532322.10.39.03.4
29Maywood27,833882503.21.39.01.4
30Los Altos30,25673220.20.110.63.9
31Agoura Hills20,767172340.80.111.33.2
32Truckee16,161181641.10.210.14.1
33Irvine242,97112030450.50.112.52.4
34Hercules25,026272861.10.611.42.4
35Walnut30,282292941.00.39.74.7
36Rancho Palos Verdes42,645244720.60.211.14.2
37Thousand Oaks129,17512815991.00.212.42.8
38Santa Clarita206,93030724371.50.411.83.0
39Avenal13,914181541.30.511.13.8
40Murrieta108,3766814580.60.213.52.4
41Simi Valley126,60414016181.10.212.82.7
42Oakley38,851454691.20.412.13.4
43Temple City36,272454281.20.311.84.0
44Mill Valley14,411111880.80.113.03.4
45Dana Point34,244714632.10.213.51.8
46La Puente40,5831364403.41.210.82.2
47La Mirada49,277896351.80.412.92.5
48Chino Hills76,9726110300.80.213.43.4
49Belmont26,947363721.30.313.82.8
50Camarillo66,272729651.10.314.62.3

1Violent crime includes murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault.
2Property crime includes burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson.

Rebecca Lake is a journalist at CreditDonkey, a home security comparison and reviews website. Write to Rebecca Lake at rebecca@creditdonkey.com

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author's alone. Please support CreditDonkey on our mission to help you make savvy decisions. Our free online service is made possible through financial relationships with some of the products and services mentioned on this site. We may receive compensation if you shop through links in our content.

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