Study: Safest Cities in North Carolina 2016

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Whether you're partial to mountain views or ocean breezes, North Carolina has something for everyone. One thing you won't find a lot of, however, is crime, and that's good news if you live in the Tar Heel State.

Safest Cities in North Carolina
Safest Cities in North Carolina © CreditDonkey

To help you spot which cities are the safest, CreditDonkey researched crime information for North Carolina’s cities, both large and small. We found that for the state as a whole, there were just under 33,000 violent crimes and 286,000 property crimes per 100,000 residents reported in 2014, according to the FBI. Compared to 2013 figures, the number of violent crimes was roughly the same, but property crime declined by about 7.5% year over year.

North Carolina’s strong economy, good schools, and low unemployment rate are just a few things that attract thousands of new residents each year. If you’re planning a move here or you just want to see how your hometown stacks up, our guide to North Carolina’s safest cities is a must-read.

Study Methodology

To come up with the 50 safest cities in North Carolina, we began by narrowing the field to those cities with a population of 5,000 or more. Statistically, smaller cities are likely to have lower crime rates, so we wanted to make sure our list was as inclusive as possible.

Crime information for our study is based on the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report for 2014. We focused on several specific pieces of information for each city, including the number of violent and property crimes per 1,000 residents and the number of robberies and burglaries reported per 1,000 residents. We selected the latter two crimes in particular because they tend to occur more often and would likely be of most concern to residents.

Each city was assigned a CreditDonkey safety score based on these four factors. The 50 North Carolina cities that made it onto our list earned the best safety scores overall. Individual scores correlate to their ranking, with a lower safety score translating to a higher rank.

Safest Cities 2016: Rankings

50. Morganton

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 2.6
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.7
  • Property crime per 1,000: 38.4
  • Burglary per 1,000: 8.8
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 12.6

About 17,000 people make their home in Morganton, which lies roughly halfway between Charlotte and Asheville. The city has a rich history and its proximity to the mountains has made it a prime spot for retirees who want to settle down someplace safe. Morganton’s Public Safety Department works in conjunction with the Burke County Sheriff’s Office to detect and prevent crime in the area.

49. Ayden

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 7.1
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.8
  • Property crime per 1,000: 32.9
  • Burglary per 1,000: 9.5
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 12.6

The town of Ayden has the distinction of being the smallest community on our list, population-wise. Just over 5,000 people live here, and new faces are showing up all of the time. The town is part of the larger Greenville metro area, but residents don’t have to worry about big city crime here. In 2014, there were zero murders, and only four robberies were reported.

48. Hendersonville

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 3.3
  • Robbery per 1,000: 1.0
  • Property crime per 1,000: 41.0
  • Burglary per 1,000: 4.9
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 12.5

Hendersonville is known as “The City of Four Seasons,” and it’s a great place to enjoy the great outdoors at any time of the year. With fewer than 14,000 residents, it’s quite a bit smaller than nearby Asheville, but residents don’t seem to mind. Hendersonville’s police department is active in the community through programs like D.A.R.E., and officers work hand-in-hand with the Hendersonville County Sheriff’s Department to protect citizens.

Citizens involvement, a sense of civic pride, community outreach, and a cadre of highly dedicated officers and support staff play important roles in our success in public safety Hendersonville.
Herbert Blake, Police Chief, City of Hendersonville

47. Kernersville

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 3.4
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.8
  • Property crime per 1,000: 38.7
  • Burglary per 1,000: 5.2
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 12.0

The town of Kernersville can be found just outside Winston-Salem, in the heart of the Piedmont Triad region that includes Greensboro and High Point. Its convenience to these three larger cities makes it a good fit for families, retirees, and working professionals alike. Members of the Kernersville Police Department routinely patrol the city by car, but if you’re headed downtown to do some shopping or go to work, you’ll see officers walking the beat and on alert for potential criminal activity.

We focus on safety and make it a top priority.

We take a proactive approach and have our officers very visible in the neighborhoods at all times. The citizens get to know the officers and give the officers information about suspicious activity.
Curtis Swisher, Town Manager, Kernersville

Smiles are a gift and everyone has one in Kernersville.

From the smiles people give when I walk in and out of every a store to the gentlemen that open doors.
Christine Comer, President/CEO, Kernersville Chamber of Commerce

46. Waynesville

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 3.0
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.4
  • Property crime per 1,000: 34.2
  • Burglary per 1,000: 10.4
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 12.0

Waynesville is about 30 miles to the southwest of Asheville and just south of the Great Smoky Mountains. Nearby attractions like Maggie Valley’s Ghost Town in the Sky and the Cataloochee Ski Area bring in a decent amount of tourist traffic, but there’s still plenty of peace and quiet to be had. On the crime front, Waynesville reported zero murders and four robberies in 2014.

45. Newton

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 4.8
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.6
  • Property crime per 1,000: 33.4
  • Burglary per 1,000: 8.5
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 11.8

With around 13,000 residents, Newton is smaller than neighboring Hickory, but it certainly isn’t lacking when it comes to quality of life. Homes are modestly priced and located in neighborhoods that are both pleasant and safe. Newton’s police force makes an effort to interact with its citizens on a regular basis, such as through programs like a local chess and forensics club for students at South Newton Elementary School.

44. Tarboro

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 1.9
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.5
  • Property crime per 1,000: 37.2
  • Burglary per 1,000: 6.9
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 11.6

Tarboro is one of North Carolina’s oldest incorporated towns, and the city’s culture blends its past heritage with a modern approach. Known as one of the region’s premier communities for retirees, the city boasts a thriving arts and cultural scene, access to world-class health care, shopping, dining, and more. What it doesn’t have a lot of is crime; in 2014, there were no murders reported and the number of robberies came to six.

43. Belmont

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 2.1
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.9
  • Property crime per 1,000: 40.2
  • Burglary per 1,000: 3.2
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 11.6

Belmont is a small college town less than 20 miles from both Charlotte and Gastonia. It’s seen its population grow in recent years as newcomers seek to escape the hustle and bustle of the big city. The Belmont Police Department is well-equipped to keep crime at a minimum, and residents have a chance to learn more about the department through the Citizens Police Academy.

42. Eden

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 4.0
  • Robbery per 1,000: 1.0
  • Property crime per 1,000: 32.2
  • Burglary per 1,000: 8.8
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 11.5

As a certified North Carolina retirement community, Eden is popular among the older crowd, but it’s not just for seniors. Families also appreciate the city’s great features, including excellent schools and beautifully maintained neighborhoods. Eden’s low crime rate also works in its favor, and the local police department is committed to providing citizens with the best quality of service possible.

Did you know:

Project Safe Rockingham County is a county-wide community effort to improve the quality of life of all of our citizens. Project Safe Rockingham County is a county-wide coalition between the community, law enforcement, and community service providers. The program is targeted to reduce gun and gang-related violent crime in our community.

Project SAFE Rockingham County is one of eleven Project SAFE Neighborhoods (PSN) initiatives in the federal middle district of the state.

The call-in is the signature, or high-profile, event of PSN efforts, and Rockingham County has enjoyed a high degree of success with them so far. Only 12 offenders out of 118 warned have re-committed a gun offense since the beginning of the PSN program in Rockingham County. This equates to a 90% compliance rate.
Brad Corcoran, City Manager, City of Eden

People still hold doors for each other and folks on front porches wave at the cars that drive by.

Neighbors know one another and can realize when things don’t seem normal. Sir and Ma’am are used in conversation and common courtesy is expected.

It is a busy town yet people take the time to be good to each other. It is not so big that you will not expect to only meet someone once never to see them again. We run into each other at times in vastly different situations, so we want to leave each other with good impressions of ourselves when we meet.
Randy Hunt, President, Eden Chamber of Commerce

41. Sanford

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 2.7
  • Robbery per 1,000: 1.2
  • Property crime per 1,000: 34.0
  • Burglary per 1,000: 6.9
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 11.2

Sanford is a city of industry and there’s a wealth of opportunity here for job seekers. With a population of nearly 30,000 people, you’d expect crime to occur more frequently, but it still rates as a safe place to hang your hat at night. The Sanford Police Department employs strategies based around the community policing concept to keep citizens involved in the fight against crime.

40. Cherryville

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 3.6
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.8
  • Property crime per 1,000: 32.3
  • Burglary per 1,000: 6.3
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 10.7

Over the years, Cherryville has evolved from a farming town to a leader in textiles, and today, the economy is largely based around manufacturing. Just under 6,000 people live here, making it the third smallest city within our rankings. In 2014, Cherryville reported only 21 violent crimes, which included five robberies but no murders.

39. Fuquay-Varina

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 2.6
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.6
  • Property crime per 1,000: 29.5
  • Burglary per 1,000: 7.9
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 10.2

The town of Fuquay-Varina has seen its population explode in recent years, climbing by nearly 26% between 2010 and 2014. The city’s growth has been fueled by the number of newcomers seeking residence close to the Triangle Research area, which includes Durham, Raleigh, and Chapel Hill. Part of what makes the city so desirable is the fact that housing is so much more affordable and the various neighborhoods are overwhelmingly safe.

38. King

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 3.2
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.3
  • Property crime per 1,000: 30.4
  • Burglary per 1,000: 5.9
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 10.0

King is a nature lover’s dream. You can hike, fish, and swim at nearby attractions like Hanging Rock State Park and Pilot Mountain State Park. Although it serves a smaller population, King’s police department is dedicated to protecting its citizens on every front. The King Care-Calls program, for example, has officers making regular check-ins with local seniors to ensure their safety and well-being.

37. Kings Mountain

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 2.1
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.8
  • Property crime per 1,000: 27.5
  • Burglary per 1,000: 6.9
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 9.3

Kings Mountain rates high on the livability scale. A low crime rate is just part of what adds to residents’ quality of life. The city reported just 22 violent crimes in 2014, including nine robberies. The Kings Mountain Police Department has several specialized units that work to combat crime, including a K-9 unit, school resource officers, and a lake patrol unit that oversees safety along the shores of John H. Moss Lake.

36. Brevard

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 1.4
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.3
  • Property crime per 1,000: 29.7
  • Burglary per 1,000: 5.4
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 9.2

The nearby Pisgah National Forest brings a lot of tourist traffic to Brevard, and the local population swells in the fall when students return to classes at Brevard College. Despite a regular flow of visitors, this scenic city manages to maintain a reputation for safety, and it’s an all-around great place to live, work, and play for residents of all ages.

We truly have a special community here in Brevard, NC.

... Whether it's the incredibly high rate of volunteerism to the community rallying around an individual or cause to the general togetherness found here. One recent example is a shop owner who was out of commission for months following a serious motorcycle accident and other shop owners in the community worked together to help keep the business going, including some volunteering to open and work at his shop on certain days.

We have everything that comes from a small mountain community - safety, charm, friendliness, but are unique in that we also have many things typically only found in a large community - incredible outdoor activity options, arts & culture, and a thriving downtown.
Clark Lovelace, Executive Director, Brevard/Transylvania Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Development Authority

35. Knightdale

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 1.8
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.7
  • Property crime per 1,000: 29.8
  • Burglary per 1,000: 3.9
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 9.1

Also part of the Triangle Research area, Knightdale is another city where the population is growing at breakneck speed. Fortunately, the crime rate isn’t increasing at the same pace; there were only 25 violent crimes reported in 2014. For the same time frame, there were no rapes or murders, and a total of 10 robberies. On the property crime side, the number of burglaries came to 54.

34. Mooresville

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 2.2
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.7
  • Property crime per 1,000: 29.4
  • Burglary per 1,000: 3.8
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 9.0

Dubbed “Race City USA,” Mooresville is known as the home base of a number of NASCAR racing teams as well as the North Carolina Auto Racing Hall of Fame. That makes it popular with tourists, but about 35,000 people live here full-time. The local police department sponsors a variety of community programs to increase citizen awareness, including a Citizens Policy Academy and RAD, which is designed to train women how to defend themselves against sexual assault.

Did you know:

We have pro-active police initiative called MPACT which is a strong community policing strategy. The officers take time to know the businesses, their owners and workers as well as residents of their area.

In addition the Town and Police have built a trusting relationship where the residents will report and keep their eyes open for crime and strange cars etc. in their own neighborhoods.

We also have strong social media presence and notification where we can alert the residents to issues and activities.

Our other departments have embraced this idea and will join the police as well as other departments attending community events, meetings etc. to show the town how their government works as a team to address issues and problems together.
Erskine Smith, ICMA-CM, AICP, Town Manager, Town of Mooresville

Economic opportunity is one of the key factors for the low crime rate because there are jobs available that help to improve the lives of the families that live here.

Last year we had over 200 businesses apply for a business license in Mooresville and this has led to one of the lowest unemployment rates (4.5%) in the state and in the country.

Our graduation rate for high school students in every socioeconomic area is 90% plus.

With a good education system and opportunities for jobs the rate of crimes here will continue to remain low.

Those in need of food, clothing, shelter, safety, help and hope can find support from the various community organizations that extend a helping hand. These nonprofits are supported by the many business partners that donate time, product, and cash to support those that cannot support themselves. The Chamber is a conduit to communication between the business community and to the families that live and work here. For those in need the Chamber is the information source that leads them to the resources they desire. Last year 30,000 visited our website looking for food, clothing, shelter, safety, help, or hope.
Kirk Ballard, President, Mooresville-South Iredell Chamber

33. Concord

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 1.1
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.5
  • Property crime per 1,000: 28.5
  • Burglary per 1,000: 4.1
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 8.6

With just under 85,000 residents, Concord is the second-most populated city in our rankings and the second-largest city in the Charlotte metro area. Like Mooresville, Concord is a favorite among NASCAR fans, and the Charlotte Motor Speedway is located here. Community policing is the order of the day for local law enforcement, and the city is divided into four distinct districts to allow officers to patrol more efficiently.

32. Butner

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 3.9
  • Robbery per 1,000: 1.0
  • Property crime per 1,000: 22.3
  • Burglary per 1,000: 4.4
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 7.7

If you’re looking for small-town charm, a strong sense of community, and safe streets, then Butner is a winner. About 7,700 people live here, and the Butner Public Safety Authority is responsible for providing residents with fire and law enforcement services. Locals are encouraged to take part in monthly Community Watch meetings to learn more about the state of safety in their neighborhoods.

31. Bessemer City

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 1.5
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.5
  • Property crime per 1,000: 22.9
  • Burglary per 1,000: 6.0
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 7.7

Bessemer City is a family-oriented town of about 5,500 people, but despite being smaller, it’s still got a big heart. Fewer than 10 violent crimes were reported here in 2014, and there were 125 reported property crimes. In terms of robbery and burglary, the number of incidents that made the books came to three and 33, respectively.

30. Carrboro

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 1.5
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.1
  • Property crime per 1,000: 23.3
  • Burglary per 1,000: 6.0
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 7.7

Carrboro is a progressive and well-to-do community of about 21,000 residents, located just west of Chapel Hill. The city’s forward-thinking approach and its convenience to the Triangle area have led to a surge in the population in recent years, with young professionals and families leading the charge. The city’s police force has several special units for dealing with crime, including a hostage negotiation team and a Critical Incident Unit, but fortunately, they’re not called into action too often.

29. Clayton

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 1.9
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.3
  • Property crime per 1,000: 22.4
  • Burglary per 1,000: 6.0
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 7.7

“The Premier Community for Active Families” is Clayton’s motto, and there’s no shortage of things to do and see. There’s a strong emphasis on the arts, but if you’d rather spend your time outdoors, there are more than a half dozen parks located around the city. Clayton scored well for violent crime, with 35 incidents reported for all of 2014. The city’s 18,000 residents reported just six robberies altogether.

28. Boiling Spring Lakes

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 1.9
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.0
  • Property crime per 1,000: 25.4
  • Burglary per 1,000: 3.3
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 7.7

So far, we’ve profiled cities that are close to the mountains, but Boiling Spring Lakes puts us closer to the coast. This city of about 5,700 souls sits just southwest of Wilmington in North Carolina’s Cape Fear region. Boiling Spring Lakes is one of two cities in our rankings that didn’t have a single robbery reported for 2014, and only 11 violent crimes were reported in all.

27. Matthews

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 1.5
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.7
  • Property crime per 1,000: 25.1
  • Burglary per 1,000: 3.2
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 7.6

Matthews is one of the Charlotte metro area’s larger suburbs, with around 30,000 residents. In a city this size, a strong police presence is necessary to keep crime under control. The Coffee with a Cop program helps police officers stay in touch with the citizens they’re sworn to protect, and locals who want to get a little more hands-on have the opportunity to volunteer with the department.

26. Leland

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 1.0
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.2
  • Property crime per 1,000: 20.1
  • Burglary per 1,000: 9.0
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 7.6

Leland, located just up the road from Boiling Spring Lakes, has a population that’s on the rise, increasing by 24% between 2010 and 2014. The city, along with nearby Wilmington, is a popular location for film and TV productions, which serve to strengthen the local economy. Leland features a diverse population, but the one thing they all have in common is a safe and secure hometown.

25. Chapel Hill

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 1.4
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.5
  • Property crime per 1,000: 22.4
  • Burglary per 1,000: 6.0
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 7.6

Of the three major Triangle area cities, Chapel Hill is the only one to make our list—which speaks highly of its reputation for safety. Around 60,000 people live here and despite the city’s size, it still manages to convey a small-town feel. A big part of Chapel Hill’s culture is centered on sport, with the UNC Tarheels taking center stage, but there’s also a vibrant music scene, and the local restaurants are unparalleled.

24. Archdale

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 1.4
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.4
  • Property crime per 1,000: 21.8
  • Burglary per 1,000: 6.2
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 7.5

Archdale is just south of High Point and less than 30 miles from both Winston-Salem and Greensboro. Life here is relatively quiet, which is how the city’s nearly 12,000 residents like it. Crime isn’t a common occurrence, and that’s a definite plus. In 2014, the city reported 16 violent crimes in all, including five robberies, but there were no murders or rapes.

23. Kannapolis

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 1.8
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.6
  • Property crime per 1,000: 21.5
  • Burglary per 1,000: 5.4
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 7.3

Kannapolis, which sits adjacent to Concord, is part of the larger Charlotte metro area. Residents here enjoy all the things you’d expect to find in a flourishing suburban community: a strong economy, a solid education system, quaint neighborhoods, and most importantly, a low crime rate. The Kannapolis Police Department emphasizes positive interactions between officers and citizens, and the department sponsors a laundry list of programs to strengthen those ties.

22. Gibsonville

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 0.6
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.1
  • Property crime per 1,000: 16.9
  • Burglary per 1,000: 11.2
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 7.2

Living in a smaller town doesn’t mean you have to avoid the big city altogether, and Gibsonville is a great example. It’s just over 17 miles from Greensboro and 7 miles from Burlington, so it’s convenient for commuting, shopping or spending a night on the town. Once the day is done, you can head home to relax in Gibsonville’s safe, secure surroundings.

Did you know:

We still engage in old fashion foot patrols, shake doors at night in the downtown business district and available to assist with any community concerns. We are the only municipality in Guilford County that currently teaches DARE in our elementary school. Our Gibsonville Merchant’s Association partners with us on a number of endeavors to help the less fortunate, especially at Christmas and during downtown events.

Gibsonville is a small town with a proactive and responsive police department that responds to the needs of our citizens. Our officers take their oath seriously and are dedicated and committed to ensure our community is a safe place to live, work and play.
Chief Ron Parrish, C.P.M., Gibsonville Police Department

21. Mint Hill

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 1.4
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.5
  • Property crime per 1,000: 20.5
  • Burglary per 1,000: 5.9
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 7.1

Mint Hill is right next door to Matthews, and it’s one of Charlotte’s larger suburban cities. The population has jumped by 10% since 2010 and families represent a large share of new residents. The Mint Hill Police Department takes a special interest in connecting with the city’s youth, and the Mint Hill Explorers program provides mentoring and education for young adults aged 14 to 21.

20. Wendell

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 1.9
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.6
  • Property crime per 1,000: 20.6
  • Burglary per 1,000: 4.0
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 6.8

As a satellite city of Raleigh, Wendell offers a quieter setting and a slower pace than the nation’s capital. Local law enforcement takes community policing seriously, and those efforts are reflected in the city’s crime rate. In 2014, there were four robberies and 25 burglaries reported, but zero murders or rapes.

19. Woodfin

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 2.1
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.5
  • Property crime per 1,000: 15.5
  • Burglary per 1,000: 7.8
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 6.5

About five minutes from downtown Asheville, Woodfin is a dream for anyone who’s looking for a safe, serene place to call home. The city is nestled along the French Broad River, which provides a picturesque backdrop for raising children, starting a business, or enjoying your golden years. Woodfin gets high marks for its low crime rate, with approximately 110 crimes total reported in 2014.

18. Wake Forest

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 1.6
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.3
  • Property crime per 1,000: 20.5
  • Burglary per 1,000: 2.5
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 6.2

Wake Forest is one of the nation’s fastest-growing suburban cities, and it sits on the fringes of the larger metropolitan area that includes Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill. Around 36,000 people reside here, and that number is growing all the time. For the Wake Forest Police Department, handling a rapidly expanding population is a challenge but fortunately, the city’s growth hasn’t led to an increase in criminal activity.

17. Fletcher

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 0.3
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.1
  • Property crime per 1,000: 16.8
  • Burglary per 1,000: 6.9
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 6.0

As the home of the Asheville Regional Airport, Fletcher is a major transportation hub in the western part of North Carolina but at heart, it remains a charming small town with a stellar track record for safety. There were just two violent crimes reported in 2014, including one robbery and one aggravated assault. The number of property crimes was a little higher and larceny was the most frequently reported crime.

16. Morrisville

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 0.5
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.3
  • Property crime per 1,000: 20.5
  • Burglary per 1,000: 2.7
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 6.0

Morrisville is conveniently placed smack dab in the middle of the Triangle area, roughly the same distance from Raleigh, Chapel Hill and Durham. That location makes it appealing to relocating professionals who work in any of these surrounding cities, and many of them are bringing families along. Officers with the Morrisville Police Department routinely patrol by car and bicycle to ensure that residents are staying safe.

15. Huntersville

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 1.1
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.3
  • Property crime per 1,000: 19.6
  • Burglary per 1,000: 2.9
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 6.0

Taking a drive to Lake Norman and checking out the fresh produce at the city Growers’ Market are just some of the things locals like to do in Huntersville. With just over 51,000 residents, this city is constantly on the move and a steady stream of newcomers find their way here on a regular basis. If you’re curious about how the Huntersville Police Department keeps crime in check, enrolling in the Citizens Police Academy can get you up to speed.

14. Boone

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 1.8
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.3
  • Property crime per 1,000: 18.9
  • Burglary per 1,000: 2.9
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 6.0

Boone is an ideal place to get back to nature, especially if you belong to the senior set. In 2012, the city earned the honor of being named one of the 10 best places to retire in the country by U.S. News. Appalachian State University draws in the college crowd, and the picturesque landscape attracts a flood of tourists each year, but neither one causes the crime rate to spike.

13. Mount Holly

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 1.3
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.4
  • Property crime per 1,000: 16.6
  • Burglary per 1,000: 5.2
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 5.9

Boredom is one thing the residents of Mount Holly rarely have to contend with. Located between Gastonia and Charlotte, the city is convenient to lots of area attractions, including the U.S. National Whitewater Center, Carowinds and the Schiele Museum. This culturally and historically rich city is prized by its residents for many reasons, not the least of which is the lack of crime.

12. Havelock

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 0.8
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.2
  • Property crime per 1,000: 18.3
  • Burglary per 1,000: 4.0
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 5.8

Nearly 21,000 live in Havelock and many of them work at the Marine Corps Air Station, which is home to the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing. New Bern is less than 20 miles to the north, and if you want to stroll along the sand, Atlantic Beach is about the same distance in the other direction. Wherever you choose to spend your time around Havelock, you can do so knowing that you’re in one of North Carolina’s safest cities.

11. Winterville

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 1.3
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.4
  • Property crime per 1,000: 16.8
  • Burglary per 1,000: 3.6
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 5.5

We head back to the Greenville area for the next city on our list. Winterville is just a short distance from Ayden, which we profiled earlier. Like its neighbor, Winterville earns our praise for being safe, particularly in the violent crime department. There were 12 violent crimes reported here in 2014, divided between four robberies and eight aggravated assaults.

When you move to Winterville, you are not just gaining a place to live but you are gaining an extended family. Neighbors look out for neighbors. We have very few rental properties. 81% of our citizens are home owners and they are invested in our community and its safety and prosperity. Winterville is the type of community where you live to raise a family.

In Winterville neighbors help neighbors and that's one of the reasons our Town motto is "A Slice of the Good Life."

Recently a small business owner and his wife experienced a home fire and did not have insurance. Within two weeks a committee was formed to help them get back into their home. One person donated a one of his rental properties free of charge for them to live, an area church organized a spaghetti dinner and silent auction fundraiser for renovation funds and community organizations held a Saturday clean up day to salvage smoke damaged items. Area businesses donated funds and goods to help complete the project.
Debbie Avery, Director, Winterville Chamber of Commerce

10. Black Mountain

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 0.4
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.0
  • Property crime per 1,000: 17.0
  • Burglary per 1,000: 3.7
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 5.3

Black Mountain, called the “Front Porch of Western North Carolina,” is the kind of place where you can instantly feel at home. The city offers numerous opportunities for recreation, so you’ll have no trouble staying active while taking in the spectacular mountain views. Best of all, it’s exceptionally safe, and the city’s violent crime rate is one of the lowest on our list.

9. Cornelius

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 1.2
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.3
  • Property crime per 1,000: 14.1
  • Burglary per 1,000: 1.9
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 4.4

If you want a waterfront view, it doesn’t get any better than Cornelius. More than 27,000 people have settled down here, and Lake Norman is just one of the things that makes it a great place to live. When you’re out on the water, keep an eye open for members of the Cornelius Police Department, who patrol the lake regularly.

8. Stallings

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 1.2
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.3
  • Property crime per 1,000: 12.5
  • Burglary per 1,000: 3.4
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 4.3

The Stallings Police Department prides itself on providing residents with a safe environment to call home. Neighborhood watch programs and radKIDS, a safety education and empowerment program for children in grades K-6, are just a few of the community initiatives the department oversees. Stallings’ crime numbers tell just how effective these measures are; in 2014, the city reported zero murders, zero rapes, four robberies, and 50 burglaries.

7. Elon

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 0.3
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.2
  • Property crime per 1,000: 10.5
  • Burglary per 1,000: 3.8
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 3.7

The town of Elon is just outside Burlington, and Elon University is the focal point of the city’s economy. There’s also a strong emphasis on education at the elementary and secondary levels, which is something parents greatly appreciate. Something else they’re also grateful for is the city’s lack of crime, which is largely thanks to the efforts of the Elon Police Department.

6. Apex

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 0.6
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.2
  • Property crime per 1,000: 10.6
  • Burglary per 1,000: 2.5
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 3.5

Apex, which recently scored a spot at the top of Money Magazine’s Best Places to Live rankings, lives up to its motto, “The Peak of Good Living.” The city has grown rapidly along with the rest of the Triangle area over the last few years, with no signs of slowing down any time soon. Fortunately, Apex’s growth hasn’t been overshadowed by an increase in crime, which is why it rose to such a prominent place in our rankings.

5. Cary

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 0.6
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.2
  • Property crime per 1,000: 11.0
  • Burglary per 1,000: 2.1
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 3.5

Cary calls itself a town, but with a population of nearly 155,000, it’s the largest city in our study and one of the largest in the state. Like Apex, Cary has grown by leaps and bounds as a result of the ongoing economic boom in the Triangle area. Housing is more expensive compared to some of the other cities we’ve covered, but residents don’t seem to mind paying a little more to live in a city that climbs higher on the safety scale.

4. Waxhaw

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 0.6
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.1
  • Property crime per 1,000: 10.4
  • Burglary per 1,000: 2.1
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 3.3

The town of Waxhaw is proud of its past and passionate about its future, and that shines through in its approach to keeping residents safe. With a population that’s expanded by nearly 30% since 2010, the local police force is diligent in its efforts to stop crime in its tracks. The result is a remarkably low crime rate. In 2014, seven violent crimes were reported, along with 121 property crimes.

3. Davidson

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 0.7
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.1
  • Property crime per 1,000: 10.5
  • Burglary per 1,000: 1.6
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 3.2

Davidson, the next town over from Cornelius, shares the amazing lakefront views with its neighbor. The city takes its name from Davidson College, which is recognized as one of the best liberal arts colleges in the nation. Davidson was able to make the top three of our rankings with a total of eight violent crimes and 125 property crimes reported in 2014. That included a single robbery and 19 burglaries.

2. Holly Springs

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 0.7
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.2
  • Property crime per 1,000: 8.9
  • Burglary per 1,000: 1.6
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 2.8

Holly Springs offers a superior quality of life and a friendly, welcoming atmosphere, both of which are rounded out by an excellent crime rate. The city has earned numerous accolades for its safety, reasonably priced housing, and job opportunities, and it’s emerged as one of the most desirable places to live in the Raleigh metro area.

Many factors contribute to Holly Springs success. Here are just a few reasons:

  • School Resource Program: The Town has sworn Police Officers assigned to each of its six public schools, which includes elementary and middle schools. Children go to school in a safe learning environment, while at the same time developing positive relationships with members of our police force during their formative years.

  • The Town and Police Department management are very pro-active when it comes to providing personnel and/or resources, to address the rapidly changing needs of a dynamic, growing community.

  • The Town just completed a 28,000 sq. ft. state of the art Law Enforcement Center at a strategic location central to Town, that will meet the anticipated law enforcement needs of the Police Department for the next ten to fifteen years.

  • Community Support; Perhaps most importantly, the Town has the unwavering support of its citizens when issues related to law enforcement and public safety in general arise.

    Both our Police and Fire Departments spend resources aimed at community education and outreach, with the end result being a very supportive citizenry.

Chuck Simmons, Town Manager, Holly Springs

1. Pinehurst

  • Violent crime per 1,000: 0.1
  • Robbery per 1,000: 0.1
  • Property crime per 1,000: 7.4
  • Burglary per 1,000: 0.0
  • CreditDonkey safety score: 1.69

The village of Pinehurst is hailed as the “Cradle of American Golf,” and it was originally designed as a resort town for golf enthusiasts. Today, the city continues to offer opportunities to relax, and that may account for the large number of retirees who live here. Aside from its importance in golf history, Pinehurst is notable for having the best crime rate in North Carolina. In 2014, violent crime consisted of a single robbery, with zero burglaries reported for the year.

Bottom Line

One thing to keep in mind when reading through our guide is that not every city in North Carolina reports its crime data to the FBI. If there’s a specific city you were hoping to see in our rankings, that may explain its absence.

If your city did make the list, we hope it’s a big help to your peace of mind. On the other hand, if you’re still concerned about crime, check out our library of articles on how to enhance your home’s security.

The Top 50 Safest Cities in North Carolina

RankCityPopulationTotal # of Violent Crimes1Total # of Property Crimes2Violent Crime Per 1,000Robbery Per 1,000Property Crime Per 1,000Burglary Per 1,000
1Pinehurst15,39111140.10.17.40.0
2Holly Springs30,026202680.70.28.91.6
3Davidson11,95481250.70.110.51.6
4Waxhaw11,67871210.60.110.42.1
5Cary154,9789817110.60.211.02.1
6Apex43,411284620.60.210.62.5
7Elon9,53731000.30.210.53.8
8Stallings14,848181861.20.312.53.4
9Cornelius27,396333861.20.314.11.9
10Black Mountain8,13831380.40.017.03.7
11Winterville9,594121611.30.416.83.6
12Havelock20,981163830.80.218.34.0
13Mount Holly13,968182321.30.416.65.2
14Boone18,496333491.80.318.92.9
15Huntersville51,3745810051.10.319.62.9
16Morrisville22,799114680.50.320.52.7
17Fletcher7,42221250.30.116.86.9
18Wake Forest35,956567381.60.320.52.5
19Woodfin6,26213972.10.515.57.8
20Wendell6,200121281.90.620.64.0
21Mint Hill24,985345121.40.520.55.9
22Gibsonville6,69341130.60.116.911.2
23Kannapolis44,784809621.80.621.55.4
24Archdale11,588162531.40.421.86.2
25Chapel Hill60,1908613471.40.522.46.0
26Leland16,587163331.00.220.19.0
27Matthews29,927457511.50.725.13.2
28Boiling Spring Lakes5,672111441.90.025.43.3
29Clayton18,089354061.90.322.46.0
30Carrboro21,240314941.50.123.36.0
31Bessemer City5,46681251.50.522.96.0
32Butner7,722301723.91.022.34.4
33Concord84,5589624081.10.528.54.1
34Mooresville35,1827910332.20.729.43.8
35Knightdale13,775254111.80.729.83.9
36Brevard7,636112271.40.329.75.4
37Kings Mountain10,650222932.10.827.56.9
38King6,907222103.20.330.45.9
39Fuquay-Varina22,134576542.60.629.57.9
40Cherryville5,887211903.60.832.36.3
41Sanford29,8057910142.71.234.06.9
42Eden15,435614974.01.032.28.8
43Belmont10,453224202.10.940.23.2
44Tarboro11,328214211.90.537.26.9
45Newton13,062634364.80.633.48.5
46Waynesville9,712293323.00.434.210.4
47Kernersville23,673819173.40.838.75.2
48Hendersonville13,551455553.31.041.04.9
49Ayden5,078361677.10.832.99.5
50Morganton16,786436452.60.738.48.8

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

Safest Cities in North Carolina 2016
Safest Cities in North Carolina 2016 © CreditDonkey

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

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