Originally posted at SafeWise.
By Alexia Chianis.
With approximately 38 million residents, California is by far the most populated state in the U.S. But that doesn’t mean it has a particularly high crime rate. In fact, according to recent FBI Crime Report data, the Golden State’s crime rate is about on par with the national average, reporting 3.96 violent crimes per 1,000 residents and 26.65 property crimes per 1,000 residents. The report reveals that the typical American city reported 3.67 violent crimes per 1,000 citizens and 27.30 property crimes per 1,000 citizens. As a whole, crime went down in California over the last year. Specifically, violent crime was reduced by seven percent and property crime was lessened by four percent.
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When we took a close look at the 50 safest cities in California, we found they reported much lower incidents of crime than the national average. The average violent crime rate among our safest cities was 1.12 per 1,000 people, and the average property crime rate was 11.32 per 1,000 people. That means the average safe city listed below experienced 70 percent less violent crime and 60 percent less property crime than the typical U.S. city. We were particularly impressed to discover that 42 of California’s 50 safest cities (84 percent) reported no murders. And the safest city on our list, Hillsborough, reported no incidents of violent crime whatsoever.
If you’re looking for a safe place to call home in California, start by looking at our list to make sure you’re going somewhere with a good safety record. Once you’ve become familiar with the safest cities in California, you’ll want to explore the security and safety information found in our comprehensive California Safety Directory. In addition to finding the latest information on crime prevention programs, you can explore an interactive map of the most (and least) burglarized counties in the state.
How We Chose the Safest Cities in California
We followed a strict protocol to arrive at the 50 safest cities in California. First, we identified cities with a population of over 10,000 residents in 2013 and evaluated recent FBI Crime Report data. From there, we determined the number of Violent Crimes, which are considered murder, aggravated assault, robbery and forcible rape, as well as Property Crimes, consisting of burglary, motor vehicle theft, arson, and larceny-theft that were reported in each city. Then, to create a level playing field and make it easy to compare crime rates among several cities, we calculated the chance of these crimes happening out of 1,000 people.
When reviewing the list, you should keep in mind that although the annual FBI Crime Report is considered a premier source for a myriad of crime data, not every city in California reported complete information to the FBI. If you think we overlooked one of the state’s safest cities, it could be because its law enforcement agency did not report complete data to the FBI, and that caused it to be removed from consideration.
If you want to see how your city did in our past report, check out last year’s crime data. These are the 50 safest cities in California for 2015.
Situated in San Mateo County, approximately 15 miles south of San Francisco, you’ll discover the affluent community of Hillsborough. According to the latest FBI Crime Report, the safest city on our list reported no murders, forcible rapes, robberies or aggravated assaults, and had a property crime rate 80 percent lower than the national average.
Hillsborough Police Department deserves recognition for offering a wealth of safety and security programs. From a community awareness program for citizens who want to start a Neighborhood Watch program to a home security check program, the departments’ proactive approach to fighting crime may be one reason why Hillsborough reported less than three dozen burglaries.
Violent Crimes per 1,000: .00
Property Crimes per 1,000: 5.06
Just off State Route 111 and equidistant from Los Angeles and Phoenix, Imperial’s location is ideal for businesses in the Imperial Valley. It’s also perfect for families looking for a safe place to call home. In addition to a variety of housing, quality schools and rich culture, Imperial reported no murders, forcible rapes or aggravated assaults.
An involved citizenry that takes great pride in stewardship coupled with an innovative E-Policing program are helping keep crime at bay in this growing community.
Violent Crimes per 1,000: .43
Property Crimes per 1,000: 5.39
3. Rancho Santa Margarita
The third safest city in California happens to also be one of its youngest. Incorporated in 2000, Rancho Santa Margarita is a master planned community with a number of housing developments, modern amenities, and bountiful recreation.
Residents of this Orange County gem can boast that there’s less than one in 1,000 chance of being a victim of a violent crime in Rancho Santa Margarita. That makes it 90 percent safer than the average American hometown and, for a city of approximately 50,000 residents, that’s particularly impressive.
Violent Crimes per 1,000: .34
Property Crimes per 1,000: 5.89
4. Aliso Viejo
With the tag line “It’s all here. It’s all close.” you can expect a lot from Aliso Viejo and not be disappointed. Officially established in 2001, Aliso Viejo offers award-winning schools, a number of well-established corporations, and an extensive trail system.
Whatever the community is doing to keep crime under control is working. Not only was the master planned community also the fourth safest city on our last year’s list, its number of reported violent crimes went down from 30 to 25 and its reported property crimes were reduced from 437 to 315 over the time period.
Violent Crimes per 1,000: .49
Property Crimes per 1,000: 6.29
Boutique wineries, charming eateries, and safe streets are what you’ll find in this modern community. Located in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains, and just outside the San Francisco Bay area, Saratoga’s high quality of life and hometown vibe also offer residents a retreat from the hustle and bustle of nearby Silicon Valley.
We give kudos to Saratoga for making crime fighting a priority. Our last report on California’s safest cities recognized Saratoga as a decidedly safe city, but since then, the community managed to reduce the number of aggravated assault by 50 percent and lower its overall rate of violent crime rate by 25 percent. Share that good news!
Violent Crimes per 1,000: .45
Property Crimes per 1,000: 7.18
Image: LPS.1; CC0
6. Laguna Woods
In the short 16 years Laguna Woods has officially been a city, it has earned a stellar reputation as a safe, senior-friendly community. From a number of volunteer opportunities to an expansive variety of events at the nearby Orange County Great Park, active older adults can find plenty to keep them busy in Laguna Woods.
Recent FBI Crime Report data reveals this Orange County town of approximately 16,000 residents reported less than half a dozen violent crimes and a nominal 132 property crimes. It’s no wonder the residents ofLaguna Woods feel good about calling it home sweet home.
Violent Crimes per 1,000: .30
Property Crimes per 1,000: 7.95
Clayton is where small-town living and an appreciation for tradition meet to create a community that’s not only welcoming, but also remarkably safe. The chance of being a victim of a violent crime in Clayton is 96 percent less than the national average, and only one city on our safest cities of California list (Hillsborough) beat that astonishing figure. Clayton reported only two incidents of violent crime, both of which were robberies, according to the FBI Crime Report. Plus, its property crime rate was three-quarters lower than the national average.
Violent Crimes per 1,000: .17
Property Crimes per 1,000: 8.82
If you’re looking for a safe community that offers room to roam, you’ve found it. In fact, providing a safe environment is the first goal listed on the Moraga’s official mission statement and 33 percent of its land is designated as open space. Additionally, Moraga earns our respect for offering a number of youth-oriented activities. From a spectacular parks and recreation program to the innovative Moraga Youth Involvement Committee, Moraga is dedicated to raising a fine future citizenry. Plus,Moraga’s negligible crime rate has been reduced even further over the last two years.
Violent Crimes per 1,000: .66
Property Crimes per 1,000: 9.00
Image: JD Lisa; Public Domain
9. Foster City
The waterfront community of Foster City is situated in San Mateo County, roughly 20 miles south of San Francisco. An amazing public cultural arts program is among one of the most coveted perks of living in this safe city. Whether you want to peruse local art at the Foster City Art Gallery, attend the annual Polynesian Festival, or take in a play at the Hillbarn Theatre, you’ll find cultural activity is cherished in Foster City. It’s also a city that’s investing in the future through programs such as “Sustainable Foster City.”
Best yet, Foster City can brag that since our last safe cities reports, the number of violent crimes was reduced by almost 50 percent and its incidents of property crimes was lowered by 20 percent.
Violent Crimes per 1,000: .45
Property Crimes per 1,000: 9.34
Image: Gavin.perch; Public Domain
This wealthy suburb of San Francisco is considered one of the most affluent cities in America, but its police department is what impressed us the most. The Danville Police Department gets high marks for working hand in hand with the community to keep criminals in check. This year, the Danville Police Department will host two sessions of its Citizen’s Police Academy. We respect that Chief of Police Steve Simpkins maintains an open door policy, and his email is prominently displayed on the department’s website.
Danville’s respectable safe city ranking remained about the same as last year, however the community reduced violent crime by 35 percent and property crime by almost 20 percent.
Violent Crimes per 1,000: .39
Property Crimes per 1,000: 9.51
For the full list, please check out #11-50 at SafeWise!
These great cities secured a spot on our 50 safest cities in the entire state of California. No matter where you live in California, it’s best to do your part to keep your home secure. SafeWise recommends a monitored security system to get the best protection possible. To discover which system is right for your home, check out the SafeWise security system finder.