The Most Dangerous Cities In Tennessee: 2020’s Ultimate List


The Most Dangerous Cities In Tennessee

With its rich history, world-class food, and music notoriety, the state of Tennessee has a lot to offer a typical family. There are cities filled to the brim with music, museums, and some of the best barbecue in the world. It’s easy to see why Tennessee has such appeal for both families and young professionals who are just starting out in life.

Even if you’re not a fan of country music, Tennessee offers a lot to people who want to find a new place to call home. The cities are metropolitan and elegant. The woods are filled with wildlife and adventure at every turn. Of course, there are great cities to enjoy in Tennessee and cities that just aren’t that good to be in. Though the state is considered to be relatively low crime, it’s still possible to end up in a bad city.

Are you curious about which city is considered to be the most dangerous in Tennesse? We were too. So, we decided to take a look into it.

Is Tennessee Safe?

When I first started this article, I assumed that Tennessee is relatively low in crime due to my background as a Northerner. If you made the same assumption as I did, prepare to be shocked. Statistics show that Tennessee has higher than average crime rates as a whole. According to SafeWise:

  • 29 percent of people in Tennessee experienced a property crime in the past year.
  • 17 percent of people in Tennessee dealt with violent crime in the past year.
  • 10 percent of people in Tennessee have been affected by a mass shooting in the past year.

If those statistics strike you as high, you’re not alone. Apparently, safety is a growing concern of most Tennesseans.

Should You Move To Tennessee?

Like with many other parts of the South (and Appalachia), much of what you get to enjoy in Tennessee will be based on location. There are both good and bad parts of the state. Keeping away from the bad parts of the state, having a steady job lined up, and knowing which schools are the best in the area can help you enjoy the state to its fullest potential.

You should never discredit an entire state based on seeing statistics about the most dangerous cities inside its borders. Even going to these cities doesn’t guarantee that you’re going to be a crime victim. A little street smarts goes a long, long way.

Why Is Crime On The Rise In Tennessee?

There are many factors that can play into an uptick in crime. Police agencies across the nation are currently struggling with upticks in crime as a result of civil unrest as well as a drop in employment numbers due to the COVID-19 crisis. Even prior to the current events, many people within these cities were facing a hard time making ends meet or finding the support they needed.

With that being said, a person’s choice to turn to crime should be taken on a case by case basis. Each city will have a different environment that makes it conducive (or not conducive) to crime.

What Are The Most Dangerous Cities In Tennessee?

To find out which is the most dangerous city in Tennessee, we looked at the most recent available crime rates in each city. Then, we balanced out the number of violent crimes compared to the number of property crimes. Here is what we were able to determine…

#10: Sweetwater

Sweetwater tn

As far as the 10 most dangerous cities in Tennessee go, Sweetwater is both the smallest in the crowd as well as the least dangerous. This city only has 5,800 people in it, but it still managed to rank in the top 10. Most people who live within Sweetwater’s borders wouldn’t even call it a city. Rather, they’d say it’s a somewhat rural town.

Don’t let the country vibes fool you. Current violent crime rates clock in at 870 per 100,000 citizens. Property damage, on the other hand, is fairly high up, at around 5,200 per 100,000 people.

  • Violent Crime: 868
  • Property Crime: 5,227
  • Murder: 0
  • Rape: 0
  • Robbery: 17
  • Assault: 851.4
  • Burglary: 817.3
  • Theft: 3,950.3
  • Vehicle Theft: 459.7

#9: Millington

Millington tn

Right near the outskirts of Memphis is Millington, a small suburban city that holds about 10,000 people within its borders. At first glance, Millington seems like a perfectly typical, white picket fence town. However, the city of Millington is remarkably easy to mistake for a safer place to be. Its position as number 9 on this list shows that it isn’t your average city.

Millington is one of the more dangerous places to live, primarily due to the violent crime rate of 920 per 100,000 people. Aggravated assault and assault are both serious issues here. That’s why many people who live in town choose to avoid going out at night, and why most who aren’t local choose to stay out of town.

  • Violent Crime: 917
  • Property Crime: 5,320
  • Murder: 9.1
  • Rape: 063.5
  • Robbery: 108.9
  • Assault: 735.3
  • Burglary: 817
  • Theft: 4,139
  • Vehicle Theft: 363.1

#8: Cleveland

Cleveland tn

If there’s one thing that this entry on the list of the most dangerous cities in Tennessee proves, it’s that size doesn’t always make a city more dangerous. Though it’s four times the size of Millington, Cleveland has a nearly-identical violent crime rate. The thing is, Cleveland has a slightly higher property crime rate that broke the tie between the two cities.

Strangely enough, it’s hard to pinpoint why Cleveland would have a hard time keeping people peaceful. The picturesque city is known for having plenty of historic venues, hiking trails, and rafting areas nearby. Perhaps it’s the low household income and the 6 percent pre-COVID unemployment rate?

  • Violent Crime: 916
  • Property Crime: 5, 588
  • Murder: 0
  • Rape: 48.9
  • Robbery: 71.2
  • Assault: 796.4
  • Burglary: 854.2
  • Theft: 4,244.3
  • Vehicle Theft: 489.4

#7: Chattanooga

Chattanooga tn

Home to a major Civil War battleground, the Appalachia-adjacent city of Chattanooga is one of the first major cities to be featured on this list. At this point, AreaVibes notes that Chattanooga’s crime rates are 106 percent above the Tennessee average—just enough to be able to scratch the list of a moderate risk rate city.

In this city, you will have about a 1 in 15 chance of being a victim of a property crime or a violent crime. Despite this intimidating statistic, most locals agree that Chattanooga is starting to see a rebirth. So who knows? Maybe Chattanooga won’t be on the list of the most dangerous cities in Tennessee for too much longer.

  • Violent Crime: 1,048
  • Property Crime: 6,059
  • Murder: 10.5
  • Rape: 82.6
  • Robbery: 171.8
  • Assault: 783.3
  • Burglary: 798.8
  • Theft: 4,470.7
  • Vehicle Theft: 789.4

#6: Dyersburg

Dyersburg tn

Dyersburg isn’t a city that most out-of-staters have heard of, and that might be a good thing. While it has a population of only 16,000 or so, it is plagued by a slew of problems that are usually reserved for large cities hit by serious urban blight. Housing is disproportionately expensive for the local income levels, and employment is often hard to come by.

This petite city also has a rather alarming statistic. It has a higher violent crime rate than most other cities twice its size, with a violent crime rate of 1,245 per 100,000 people. To put this in perspective, that’s over twice the national average. Assault and aggravated assault are the most common charges here.

  • Violent Crime: 1,245
  • Property Crime: 5,756
  • Murder: 0
  • Rape: 42.7
  • Robbery: 97.7
  • Assault: 1,104.9
  • Burglary: 1,318.5
  • Theft: 4,047.1
  • Vehicle Theft: 390.7

#5: Athens

Athens tn

Though it’s not considered to be the “Athens of the South,” (that’s Nashville!) Tennessee’s Athens is famous for its gorgeous scenery and distinct Southern charm. What many people don’t realize about the historic city is that it’s also one of the most dangerous cities in Tennessee when it comes to property crime rates.

This city has a shocking 7,654 property crimes per 100,000 people—almost 2.5 times the national average. What is the most commonly-cited crime, you ask? Thefts, followed by burglaries, are what residents have learned to fear here. Should you choose to move to Athens, you better get a home alarm!

  • Violent Crime: 873
  • Property Crime: 7,654
  • Murder: 0
  • Rape: 51.4
  • Robbery: 88.1
  • Assault: 733.8
  • Burglary: 1,372.3
  • Theft: 5,812
  • Vehicle Theft: 469.2

#4: Pigeon Forge

Pigeon Forge tn

With half the population of Athens and an equal amount of crime, it’s easy to see why Pigeon Forge managed to make the list of the most dangerous cities in Tennessee. Much like it’s “sister city” on this list, Pigeon Forge has a serious property crime problem that regularly causes locals issues.

Like most other dangerous towns, burglary and theft are fairly common here. What makes Pigeon Forge stand out is its vehicle theft problem, which has a rate of a jaw-dropping 1,000 per 100,000 people alone. We suggest locking your car and getting anti-theft devices installed if you choose to move here.

  • Violent Crime: 874
  • Property Crime: 7,723
  • Murder: 0
  • Rape: 159
  • Robbery: 127.2
  • Assault: 588.1
  • Burglary: 1,462.4
  • Theft: 5,261.5
  • Vehicle Theft: 1001.4

#3: Newport

Newport tn

In Rhode Island, living in Newport means that you have a huge bank account and get to enjoy a safe lifestyle. In Tennessee, living in Newport means the polar opposite. For ages, Newport has been regarded by the FBI and local police as one of the most dangerous cities in Tennessee. The property crime rate here would make anyone think twice about leaving their belongings out in the open.

This sleepy town has been facing an uphill battle with drug addiction as well as with high unemployment rates. If you’re willing to put up with that, then you might get to enjoy remarkably low real estate prices and decent amenities. Even so, most people would consider this place a gamble due to the difficulties law enforcement have with keeping crime down.

  • Violent Crime: 886
  • Property Crime: 7,888
  • Murder: 0
  • Rape: 059.1
  • Robbery: 44.3
  • Assault: 782.9
  • Burglary: 502.2
  • Theft: 6,706.1
  • Vehicle Theft: 679.5

#2: Savannah

Savannah tn

If you live in Tennessee, you probably were expecting to see this name on our list of the most dangerous cities in Tennessee. Within this city’s limits, both violent crime and property crime are huge problems. Unlike other cities on this list, a large portion of the crimes being committed are gang-related. This led to the creation of a new gang unit in the city’s police force.

Savannah’s violent crime rate is 1,162 per 100,000. This places it at over double the national average, and sadly, the property crime rate is even higher. Most residents in Savannah don’t feel safe in their homes at night, and who could blame them? One percent of all homes in the city’s limits get burglarized every year.

  • Violent Crime: 1,162
  • Property Crime: 7,104
  • Murder: 28.7
  • Rape: 86.1
  • Robbery: 71.8
  • Assault: 975.9
  • Burglary: 1090.7
  • Theft: 5,482.2
  • Vehicle Theft: 531

#1: Memphis

Memphis tn

To no one’s surprise, Memphis comes in at number one on our list. The Birthplace of Rock and Roll always had a gritty edge, but lately, it’s just been getting worse. Currently, the violent crime rate clocks in at over four times the national average, at a terrifying 1,943 per 100,000 people. Theft and assault are the most commonly reported crimes, but it gets worse…

Statistics show that Memphis also holds the dishonor of being the murder capital of Tennessee. Based on murder rates alone, Memphis earned its place among the most dangerous cities in the state.

  • Violent Crime: 1,943
  • Property Crime: 6,406
  • Murder: 28.5
  • Rape: 75.3
  • Robbery: 467.6
  • Assault: 1371.8
  • Burglary: 1302.3
  • Theft: 4,421
  • Vehicle Theft: 682.3

Crime Rates In Tennessee Cities for 2020

Rank Name Property Crime (Per 100,000) Violent Crime (Per 100,000)
10 Sweetwater 5,227 868
9 Millington 5,320 917
8 Cleveland 5,588 916
7 Chattanooga 6,059 1,048
6 Dyersburg 5,756 1,245
5 Athens 7,654 873
4 Pigeon Forge 7,725 874
3 Newport 7,888 886
2 Savannah 7,104 1,162
1 Memphis 6,406 1,943

Related Questions

Is Memphis a good place to live?

Despite its high crime rate, Memphis offers an excellent quality of life for the price you would typically pay. The city is considered to be one of the most affordable of its size, has ample amenities, and excellent nightlife scene, and also happens to have enough employment opportunities to suit most families’ needs.

What is the safest city in Tennessee?

Statistically speaking, Church Hill is the most crime-free town in the state of Tennessee. With only 45 violent crimes per 100,000 people, this small town has a crime rate that’s markedly below the national average. Due to its excellent amenities and school systems, it also happens to be one of the best places to live in Tennessee.

What is the most beautiful city in Tennessee?

Though beauty is in the eye of the beholder, multiple town critics all agreed that Gatlinburg is the prettiest town in the state. Gorgeous scenic overlooks, hauntingly pretty nature trails, and an overall pastoral ambiance are what make this a truly breathtaking city to visit. We suggest taking the Aerial Tramway to get a better view of the local landscape.

Are there gangs in Nashville?

Gangs might not be what most people think of when it comes to Tennessee, but in Nashville, gang activity is scarily common. Detectives believe that over 2,000 locals have some form of gang affiliation within the Davidson County’s limits. Some of the gangs found include Bloods, Crips, MS-13, as well as white supremacist groups.

Is Tennessee polluted?

Though Tennessee may have an idyllic look to it, many parts of the state suffer from pollution problems. The most common pollution problems include cyanobacteria infestations, coal ash dumping, as well as improper toxic waste disposal. Tennesse was rated as one of the most toxic states in the union in both 2011 and 2012 as a result.

Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is an expert writer, focusing on interior design and general home tips. Writing is her life, and it's what she does best. Her interests include art and real estate investments.

Recent Content