Most Dangerous Cities in Pennsylvania: A Comprehensive Analysis

Philadelphia, PA
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Pennsylvania, a state with rich history and diverse landscapes, unfortunately also has its share of crime and danger in some of its cities. While its two major cities, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, are often the first to come to mind when considering crime rates, there are smaller cities in the state that pose greater risks to their residents. Indeed, it is essential to recognize these high-risk places in Pennsylvania to ensure one’s safety and make informed decisions about visiting or living in these areas.

A closer look at FBI crime statistics reveals that cities like McKees Rocks, Darby, Chester, McKeesport, and Yeadon are among the most dangerous in Pennsylvania. These cities have consistently ranked high in both violent and property crimes per capita, with crime rates substantially higher than other cities across the state. It is crucial to understand the factors contributing to such crime rates and take necessary precautions when traveling in or through these areas.

Many factors contribute to the increased crime rates in these dangerous cities, such as economic challenges and unemployment. By being aware of the potential risks and taking measures to ensure one’s safety, individuals can continue to enjoy the beautiful landscapes and rich history that Pennsylvania has to offer while staying safe.

Why Are Some Cities More Dangerous

There are several factors that contribute to the dangerousness of some cities in Pennsylvania, and understanding these factors can help communities work together to address issues and improve safety.

Socioeconomic issues are often at the root of many dangerous cities. Areas struggling with poverty, unemployment, and lack of education can experience higher crime rates due to lack of opportunities and resources. In these cities, the stress of economic disparity can lead to increased violence and property crime.

Population density can also impact the level of crime in a city. Highly populated areas may experience more criminal activity due to the concentration of people and opportunities for crime. Additionally, densely populated areas might have a higher demand for police resources, which can stretch law enforcement thin and result in delayed response times or decreased crime prevention.

Another factor at play is the culture and community structure within a city. Some neighborhoods may have a history of violence or a lack of community organizations that provide support and assistance to residents. In these areas, crime can become the norm, and residents may not have access to resources to change their circumstances.

Drug use and addiction can also contribute to increased crime rates. Cities with prevalent drug problems often see higher instances of theft, burglaries, and violent altercations, as individuals suffering from addiction may resort to crime to support their habits.

Lastly, police presence and effectiveness play a critical role in the safety of a city. A well-funded and properly trained police department can proactively deter crime and be more effective in solving cases. Conversely, cities with underfunded or understaffed police departments may struggle to respond to and prevent crime, contributing to the dangerousness of the city.

By recognizing and addressing these factors, communities can work together to reduce crime, improve safety, and create a better quality of life for their residents.

Top 5 Most Dangerous Cities in Pennsylvania


Philadelphia is known for its rich history and vibrant culture. However, it also has a reputation for crime, particularly in certain areas. Despite efforts to improve safety, the city still faces challenges with both property and violent crimes.


Reading, a smaller city in southeastern Pennsylvania, faces a disproportionately high crime rate compared to its population. In recent years, criminal activity has been a growing concern for local residents, with instances of drug-related incidents, theft, and violent crimes.


Pittsburgh, a major city that straddles the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers, has a history of industrial success. While known for its beautiful skyline and friendly community, Pittsburgh experiences crime rates that are above average. The city’s urban setting contributes to the prevalence of property and violent crimes in certain neighborhoods.


Chester is the oldest city in Pennsylvania but has not escaped the challenges of crime. With a significant burglary rate and instances of violent crime, the community has been working to address these issues. It’s crucial for residents to be aware of their surroundings in order to maintain personal safety.


While not as well-known as some of its larger counterparts, Wilkes-Barre also faces concerns with crime. Located in northeastern Pennsylvania, this city sees an above-average rate of both property and violent crime. Local authorities are focused on finding solutions to reduce criminal activity and improve the overall safety of the community.

Factors Contributing to Crime Rates

Poverty and Unemployment

High poverty and unemployment rates have a significant impact on crime rates in cities. In the most dangerous cities in Pennsylvania, the median household income is well below the national average of around $53,889, averaging nearly $20,000 lower. Furthermore, these cities have poverty levels significantly higher than the national average of 15.7 percent, with rates nearly double on average.

Drug Abuse and Addiction

Another contributing factor to crime rates is drug abuse and addiction. The prevalence of illicit drug consumption and distribution, particularly opioids, contributes to increased crime. Not only can drug addiction lead to property crimes, such theft or burglary, but it can also result in an increase in violent crimes—including assault and homicide—that are often related to disputes within the drug trade.

Educational Opportunities

Lack of access to quality education is an important factor that contributes to higher crime rates. In many of the most dangerous cities in Pennsylvania, educational resources and achievement rates are below par. The absence of good education opportunities may limit individuals’ prospects for well-paying jobs, thus increasing the chances of resorting to criminal activities as a means of income or survival.

Population Density and Urbanization

Higher population density and urbanization typically correlate with increased crime rates, as observed in some of the most dangerous cities in Pennsylvania. In densely-populated urban areas, there are greater opportunities for criminals to commit property and violent crimes, as well as more targets for such activities. Additionally, the anonymity afforded to individuals in populous cities can make it easier for criminals to blend in and evade law enforcement.

Crime Comparison to National Averages

Pennsylvania has its share of dangerous cities, with several locations consistently ranking high in terms of violent and property crimes. To provide a clear understanding of the crime rates in these cities compared to national averages, we will analyze the relevant figures and specifics.

McKeesport has an overall crime rate that is 150% higher than the national average, and more than 250% higher than the statewide average. This city is located a half-hour southeast of Pittsburgh and stands as the second most dangerous place in Pennsylvania.

A few other cities in Pennsylvania, such as McKees Rocks, Darby, Chester, and Yeadon, are also considered to be among the most dangerous. These cities have, on average, crime occurrences that range between 101 – 205% higher than other locations in the state.

When comparing the crime rate per 1,000 residents in Pennsylvania to the national median, we see a ratio of 3.38 to 4. This means that an individual’s chances of becoming a victim of violent crime in the state are 1 in 296.

One important note is that only 22 Pennsylvania cities reported crime data to the FBI, which limits the scope of comparison for crime rates year over year. Personal experiences with violent crime in Pennsylvania increased from 8% to 14% year over year. However, these figures remain below national levels, which stand at 15%.

Pennsylvania residents have also reported more incidents of gun violence in the survey year. This information should be considered when analyzing the crime rates in the state and its most dangerous cities.

In summary, while some cities in Pennsylvania have alarming crime rates when compared to national averages, it is crucial to remember that the number of cities reporting crime data is limited, which affects the overall analysis of crime trends in the state.

Preventive Measures and Initiatives in Pennsylvania

In order to tackle the rising crime rates in some of the most dangerous cities in Pennsylvania, various preventive measures and initiatives are being implemented. These efforts aim to reduce crime, improve safety, and strengthen communities.

One of the primary approaches involves investing in education and community development programs. By providing resources and creating opportunities for residents, these programs can address the root causes of criminal behavior and ultimately lead to safer cities. Some examples of such initiatives include after-school programs, job training, and rehabilitation services for individuals with criminal records.

Another important measure includes increasing police presence and community policing efforts. This can help build trust between law enforcement and citizens, leading to better cooperation in preventing and solving crimes. The use of modern technology, such as surveillance cameras and advanced crime-mapping software, can also improve police efficiency and effectiveness when addressing crime.

Furthermore, Pennsylvania is prioritizing efforts to combat litter and illegal dumping, which can contribute to unsafe environments and degrade the quality of life for residents. A recent report found that nine Pennsylvania cities collectively spend over $68.5 million annually on prevention, education, abatement, and enforcement efforts to address litter and illegal dumping.

Lastly, collaboration between various stakeholders, including local government, private organizations, nonprofits, and community groups, is essential for the successful implementation of these initiatives. By working collectively, these parties can pool resources and expertise to make a more significant impact in reducing crime rates across Pennsylvania’s most dangerous cities.


In summary, several cities in Pennsylvania have earned a reputation for high crime rates and danger. Based on the various sources and FBI statistics, it is clear that McKees Rocks, Darby, Chester, Mckeesport, and Yeadon consistently rank high per capita for both violent and property crimes. Additionally, other cities such as Johnstown and Midland have also been noted for their significant crime statistics and economic hardships.

Taking a confident, knowledgeable, and neutral approach, it is important to remember that while these cities are currently considered dangerous, there are positive aspects to each location, and the potential for improvement should not be disregarded. By implementing appropriate safety precautions and staying informed on the nuances of each city, visitors and residents can make educated decisions on their presence in these areas.

In the context of this assessment, it is crucial to provide clear and accurate information for the reader without resorting to exaggeration or unfounded claims. By relying on reputable sources and a balanced perspective, the analysis of the most dangerous cities in Pennsylvania remains credible and informative.