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The 20 Most Dangerous Cities in California

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 24:  A car adorned with Armenian flags passes a Hollywood themed mural on Hollywood Boulevard near a rally on the 99th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, calling for recognition and reparations, on April 24, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. Relations between Turkey and Armenia, a former Soviet republic, remain split over the issue of genocide which, according to Western historians, resulted in the massacre of as many as 1.5 million Armenians and eviction of 500,000 others from land occupied by their ancestors for 2,500 years. Earlier this month, the Republic of Turkey condemned a U.S. Senate committee resolution branding the massacre of Armenians by Ottoman forces during World War I as genocide and warned that such a step could harm Turkish-American ties.   (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

California is one of the most popular states in the country.  Over the years, California has become one of the most visited states in the country, and people love seeing all of the things the West coast has to offer. When people think of California, some of the first things that come to mind are good weather, beautiful people, and beautiful scenery. However, what some people fail to realize is that there is much more to The Golden State than tourist attractions and awesome beaches. Like any other place, there are many areas of California that deal with serious issues involving violent crime. While some parts of the state are considered paradise others are war zones. Here are the 20 most dangerous cities in California.

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Palm Springs

Palm Springs sounds like the perfect place to vacation, and while most people who visit the city are unaware of its crime rate, things in Palm Springs aren’t as nice as they seem. Like most big cities, both violent and property crime are an issue in Palm Springs.  People in the city have a one in 18 chance of becoming a victim.

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Antioch

Antioch may not be one of the most-well known cities in the state, but that doesn’t mean it’s completely off the radar. Out of all the cities in California, Antioch manages to be one of the most dangerous.  With a population of over 100,000 residents, Antioch has a relatively high crime rate, and residents have approximately a one in 18 chance of falling victim to some sort of crime.

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Bakersfield

The City of Bakersfield has a population of more than 300,000 people, but despite having a pretty diverse economy, the city has struggled to find economic stability. Since poverty and violence often go hand in hand, it should come as no surprise that Bakersfield is also dealing with crime related issues. Although violent crime doesn’t seem to be outrageously high, property crime is a huge issue on the city with more than 50 crimes taking place per everything thousand residents.

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Redding

With a population of just over 89,000, Redding is a relatively small city located in Shasta County.  The city has a lot to offer, and may seem like a great place to settle down. However, people visiting or moving to the city should keep in mind that crime is something to be on the lookout for. Despite the city’s size, property crime remains a big problem.  People in Redding have a one in 18 chance of falling victim to crime.

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San Francisco 

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San Francisco

San Francisco is one of the biggest and most popular cities in California. Each year, countless people head to the city to enjoy the bay area and see all of the wonderful things the city has to offer. However, with the city’s massive size, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it’s made the list of most dangerous cities in the state. San Francisco deals with an array of crimes each year, and people in the city have a one in 18 chance of becoming victims. The city’s ‘Tenderloin’ area has the highest crime rate, and the city as a whole struggles with homelessness.

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West Hollywood

Any time people hear the word Hollywood, they automatically think about lights, camera, action, and luxury. However, things in the city of West Hollywood aren’t as fabulous as outsider might imagine. With a population of slightly more than 34,000 West Hollywood is still stricken with property crime throughout the city. On overage, more than 56 property crimes are reported per every 1000 residents.

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Vallejo 

Located in Solano County, Vallejo is well-known for being the city of three of the murders committed by the legendary Zodiac Killer. Although the city has moved on from the killings, Vallejo still struggles with both poverty and crime. With average per capita income slightly over $20,000, more than 10% of the people in Vallejo are living below the poverty line.  That may have something to do with the city’s crime rate which leaves residents at a high rate of falling victim.

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Fresno

Fresno is the fifth largest city in the state and has a very diverse population of people. The city has a rich history and has a lot of great things to see.  However, Fresno also had a pretty well-known history of violent crime. Gang violence has long since been a problem in the city. Property crime also occurs at a high rate in Fresno and people in the city have a one in 17 chance of falling victim.

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San Pablo

With a population that hasn’t even cracked 30,000 people, San Pablo is one of the smallest cities on the list. However, it’s also almost within the top 10 – meaning that letting its small size fool you would be a huge mistake. With nearly 20% of the city living below the poverty line, the number of crimes in the city probably don’t come as much of a surprise.  On average, San Pablo reports more than nine violent crimes per 1,000 residents, and more than 48 property crimes per 1,000 residents.

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Richmond

The city of Richmond is no stranger to crime.  In fact, the crime rate in the city was once so high that the city council requested a state of emergency and asked for help from the county’s law enforcement. As a result, Richmond’s reputation has suffered over the last several years. In 2004, it was voted one of the most dangerous cities in the country, and although crime has decreased, it continues to be a serious issue.

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Selma

The city of Selma is so small that some people who were born and raised in the area may not have even heard of it.  But even with a population of just over 24,000 people, Selma managed to crack the top 10 most dangerous cities. The crime rate in Selma is about 60 crimes per 1,000 people leaving those in the city with a one in 17 chance of becoming victims.

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El Centro

A few years ago, El Centro was ranked one of the poorest cities of its size in the entire country. Although the economy in most places in the country tends to be improving, El Centro still suffers from an unemployment rate of nearly 20 percent. With that being said, the city’s crime reflects the poor economic situation and the medium size city has a crime rate of 61 per thousand residents.

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Merced

Despite being the county seat of Merced County, and having a diverse and interesting population, the city of Merced just can’t seem to overcome its issues with crime.  Despite initiatives in the area, Merced is yet another city whose poverty likely goes hand in hand with its crime. Both violent and property crimes have been reported as an issue in the city and people have a one in 16 chance of becoming a victim.

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San Bernardino

San Bernardino may not be one of the largest cities in the state, but it’s certainly one of the most dangerous. For years, San Bernardino is battled high crime rates and the city was once ranked one of the poorest and most dangerous in the nation. Although local law enforcement has attempted to turn things around over the last few years, San Bernardino remains a hot bed for all types of crimes.

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Modesto

Both the violent and property crime rate in Modesto are higher than the national average. Car theft and gang activity seem to make up the bulk of the city’s crime and although the numbers have gone down in recent years, there hasn’t been enough of a change to help Modest move its way off of a list like this.

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Berkeley

Located in Alameda County, Berkeley is a city full of history.  In fact, Berkeley is home to the oldest college campus in the University of California state system. However, like several other college towns,  once you leave campus things start getting real.  The crime rate in Berkeley is higher than average, and property crime is the biggest offense.  Although the crime rate seen a decrease over the last 15 years, that hasn’t stopped Berkeley from making it onto the top five.

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Stockton

During the recession, Stockton was hit especially hard when the real estate market took a hit. In 2013, the city filed bankruptcy, making it the largest city in the country to ever do so. As you can imagine, things in Stockton aren’t great, and just two years after filing for bankruptcy, the city is trying to get back on its feet. However, commonly ranked as one of the most dangerous cities in the USA, Stockton seems to have a lot way to go. although crime has been slowly declining.

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Santa Cruz

Among medium and large size cities, Santa Cruz has the highest property crime rate in California as well as some of the highest violent crime rates in the state. Santa Cruz also has a high population of homeless people, and unfortunately it doesn’t seem like anything is looking up for the city although residents have reached out to local government officials.

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Eureka

Eureka is yet another small city that has a reputation for being pretty unsafe. With a population of approximately 27,000 people, you’d probably expect the city to be pretty quiet.  However, Eureka is home to all sorts of crime, and people in the city have a one in 13 chance of becoming victims.

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(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)


Oakland

Over the years, fighting crime has proven to be a losing battle in the city. Although the rate of property crime has declined over the last couple years, violent crime remains a huge issue for the city. Although most of the violent crime is isolated to specific areas, it’s still a little unsettling to know that one in every 12 people in the city could possibly fall victim to a crime.

Written by Camille Moore

Camille has a master's degree from Saint Joseph University's Writing Studies program. Her writing has been published on several websites, and she enjoys writing articles and short stories in her spare time. You can follow Camille on Twitter @CamealAshley.