The FBI’s List of the Most Dangerous Cities in Texas

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The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports compile crime statistics on hundreds of metro areas. The latest numbers—which track the data from 2013—reveal some interesting tidbits about Texas cities. For instance: the most dangerous parts of Texas, generally, are not the largest cities, with only one of the five most populous cities to to place in the top five on the list. Also: West Texas, generally, has a higher violent crime rate than the rest of the state. And: Austin is basically a fairy tale land populated by elves and hobbits, with a violent crime rate roughly ⅓ that of Odessa, the top city on the list. Here are some more facts worth knowing: 


West Texas Takes The Top Spots

Odessa’s violent crime rate of 806 incidents per 100,000 inhabitants is the highest in Texas by a fairly wide margin; Lubbock, the #2 city on the list, drops down to 658 per 100,000. Lubbock’s rate is slanted a bit more toward robbery, while Odessa has more aggravated assault cases, with a shocking 645 cases per 100,000 people.

Amarillo doesn’t place in the top five, but it’s not far off, at #6. Amarillo has the distinction of having the highest rate of reported rapes in Texas, at 84.9 per 100,000. (Rape statistics nationally are believed to be widely underreported, which makes this number somewhat less than reliable in regards to the actual incidences of the crime—it’s unclear, for example, if more rapes occur in Amarillo or if the criminal justice system in the area is set up to report them more easily.) 

The FBI’s numbers track a handful of violent crimes: Murder (including non-negligent manslaughter), rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. The “uniform” part of the statistics breaks them all down by incidents per 100,000—so a murder rate of 3 (which Lubbock has) means that the city, with its population of 239,000, actually had more like 7 reported murders in 2013. Houston, with its murder rate of 5.9 and its population of 6.3 million in the metropolitan area, would have seen over 370 murders, by comparison.

Speaking Of Houston

Houston is the only one of the five most populous cities in the state to place high on the list, at #3. The types of crimes reported in Houston are fairly different from what you’ll find out west, though: While Odessa and Lubbock both go heavy on assault crimes, Houston’s robbery rate, at 233 per 100,000, is nearly double that of the top cities on the list. Its murder rate, as mentioned above, is 5.9 per 100,000. 

Beaumont/Port Arthur is a different MSA from Houston, but the nearby cities share a high murder rate. The two cities have the highest murder rates in Texas, in fact, with Beaumont facing an 8.6 per 100,000 figure. 

North Texas Rates Are Lower Than You Might Think

The highest-ranked city in North Texas is Texarkana, which places at #4. The vast majority of the violent crimes that take place there are assault cases, as in Odessa and Lubbock. Assault cases make up a larger percentage of every city’s violent crime than any of the other categories listed, but it’s worth noting that in cities with a lower per-capita income, assault cases tend to make up 70% or more of their violent crime (compared to around 50% in a city like Houston). 

Meanwhile, in Dallas/Fort Worth, the numbers are pretty low: The Metroplex places #17 on the list, with robbery rates high and the murder rate, at 4.4, in the middle of the pack. Wichita Falls, similarly, places at #15, with robbery and aggravated assault making up almost 91% of the cases. Sherman-Denison, places at #22, with almost 77% of its cases being assault charges. 

The Border Is Pretty Safe

Border cities get a bad rap as violent, but the Rio Grande Valley is extremely safe. Of the 24 Texas metro areas ranked by the FBI, Brownsville comes in dead last, with 240 incidents of violent crime per 100,000 people. Nearby McAllen comes in at #18, with 286 per 100,000. 

Things are closer to the middle of the pack in El Paso and Laredo, which place at #13 and #10, respectively. The murder rate in each city is low, at 1.4 and 1.5 (Brownsville also comes in at 1.4, which is the second-lowest behind Abilene at 0.6). The numbers in El Paso, Laredo, and McAllen are all slanted heavily toward aggravated assault. In Brownsville, meanwhile, though the overall numbers for everything are very low, robbery crimes make up a surprisingly high number of cases, at 58.1 per 100,000, good for almost 25% of the violent crime in the city.

The Parts Of South Texas North Of The Border Are Somewhat Less So

Corpus Christi, Victoria, and San Antonio all place within the top 10 on the list (at #7, 8, and 9, respectively). The numbers for all three cities are pretty similar—although Victoria, like Amarillo, has a surprisingly high number of reported rape cases, at 71.5 per 100,000. The average for all Texas cities listed is 36, which means that, again—either Victoria (and Amarillo) have more than twice as many rapes occurring than the rest of the state, or they’re being reported more frequently in those cities than elsewhere. 

That statistic aside, there’s not a lot to parse about those numbers: Corpus has the highest murder rate, at 5.4, of the three, while San Antonio has a lower robbery rate than the other largest metro areas in Texas, Houston and Dallas. 

Austin Is Very Safe, Y’all

Austin’s reputation as a low-crime city bears out, according to these numbers: the city places 21st of 24 on the list, and its murder rate of 2.8 per 100,000 is by far the lowest of the “big four” Texas cities. Robbery similarly makes up less than 20% of violent crimes in Austin, lower even than San Antonio (and significantly lower than Houston or Dallas). Of the 271.3 incidents of violent crime per 100,000 in Austin, 192 of them are assault-related, good for over 70%—and still a lower overall number than most cities in Texas. 

(image via Flickr)

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  • Scotty Jones Cherryholmes

    Which city is #5?

    • SgtBeavis

      5. Beaumont-Port Arthur

      Violent crime rate per 100,000 inhabitants: 536.1
      Murder/non-negligent manslaughter: 8.6
      Rape: 28.6
      Robbery: 154.7
      Aggravated assault: 344.3
      Property crime: 3,359.4
      Burglary: 1,003.6
      Larceny-theft: 2,169.9
      Motor vehicle theft: 185.9

  • Steves Harris-Puckett

    Thank you for publishing these statistics. We published our community crime statistics years ago in various publications and on our Deli blog and table tops. The conversations that followed were very telling. Some denied outright. Some said you can’t believe everything you read. Some said their must be mistakes because we can’t be that bad when compared to the rest of ths State and Country. Some said we were just trying to bring shame to the community. Some were appalled. Some knew we had a problem and admitted it once the numbers were published. These numbers are now published regularly in the local Newspaper without us being the instigator. You can tell quite a lot about a community by it’s crime statistics if you are willing to be honest!

    • flavio ledezma sanchez

      Umm Texas was Mexican property so go fuck yourself wonder why were here dumbass

      • grendal113

        Aww santa anna wore a skirt to hide.

      • ROT_SOLDIER

        WAS being the operative word. Before you get your panties in a wad, I’m hispanic and native american. I’ll take being under the laws of white men 1000 times over being under the laws of lawless mexicans any day. And for the record, whites, hispanics and blacks took part in taking Texas from Mexico because Mexico was oppressive.

        • Bill

          And we have to feed you and ALL your KIDS

          • ROT_SOLDIER

            Fuck you , asshole. My family has fought in the Border Wars, WWI, WWII, Korean Conflict and the Vietnam Conflict. You hadn’t paid for a fucking thing for me or my family and as to be expected, simply because I stated that I’m part hispanic and native american, you “act like a fucking racist” and assume I’m just another government leech. And more to my point that you’re a fucking moron, I was defending Whites, but you’re moronic, racist, stupid fucking ass has to pull out the fucking “I’m a fuckin’ retard racist” card.

          • concerned citizen

            Thats what you get for sucking tje white pipi…lol

          • Your name

            You go boy! Put that punk in his place! So sick of the racist trash in this country. I’m white and I have a lot of Hispanic friends and they have more values than anyone!

          • Richard Erwin

            you gittem my wife is hispanic she and her family have busted their butts WORKING all their lives and as good Texans as anybody!!

          • whitebread

            Not doing the jobs Americans won’t do: 70% of illegal aliens in Texas receive welfare

            by EDITOR on APRIL 18, 2011

            Illegal aliens crossing the border to line up at the welfare office

            A new study has found that a remarkable 70% of illegal aliens in Texas are on the dole. Since only 39% of native born Americans are on welfare, it makes one think that the phrase “doing the jobs Americans won’t do” should be changed to “not doing the jobs that Americans won’t do.”

          • ROT_SOLDIER

            I will also add that stupid old fucks like you are the reason this country has gone to shit. You couldn’t fucking man up against the government because your pantywaste generation thought it was easier to go along and let the next generations deal with it. Fuckin’ piece of shit generation is all you amounted to. Fuck you.

          • ChezHozay

            and we have to deal with ignorant pricks like you

        • tom s

          Rot-Soldier—–Santa Anna, one man was largely responsible for the oppression of the Mexican people. There WERE other bad guys, but they would have been impotent without him. At the time he was fighting the Texians he was ALSO involved in a costly war in Southern Mexico. The Mexican people HATED him, and rightfully so. Too bad Houston turned Santa Anna loose. WE got out from under his heel, but the Mexican PEOPLE would have been much better off with him dead. Sam screwed the pooch in that regard.

          • gary4205

            I was thinking the other day, looking at what a shit-hole Mexico is today, how much better the world would be had Sam Houston marched his army all the way to Mexico City!

      • KKetch42

        Santa Anna sold Texas to save his a**. The key word is WAS. Take a History class and learn your Country. Don’t depend on stories told on street corners.

        • Rodrigo M.

          How do you know the history written in books is even. True? Who writes history. The conquerers. So even if Flavio gets a Bach. Degree in Texas History how do we know he is not reading a bunch of bull shit.

      • StillCantBanMe

        *WE’RE here, dumbass

      • Bill

        Like you said WAS so get over it .go get your papers in order

      • UrADoofus

        your asses got beat down and tossed out! so sad.

      • Brent

        You are uneducated. Texas was Mexican for 15 years. The Anglo’s were invited here by Santa Anna. Only when he broke his promises did the Texians revolt. A war was fought and mexico lost. A treaty was signed and Texas was now a country recognized by the world. Later another war was fought with the US and this time mexico was conquered. But mexico was allowed to remain a country. We took California and Arizona and even though we conquered Mexico, we paid for the land. Some years later, Mexico sold southern Arizona and New Mexico to the us. So you know. Now you don’t look so stupid. But if you take nothing else, just remember Mexico was CONQUERED.

        • Jim Smith

          As a member of the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, the Sons of the American Revolution, the Sons of the Texas Revolution AND being of Anglo and Hispanic bloodline, I recommend you consider this man’s characterization of the mentioned events to be mostly correct. I was raised to also speak Spanish as a matter of respect for our culture in South Texas. Somos Tejano first!

      • Your name

        He Flavio! Mexicans didn’t own Texas and if you find the property rights that the MEXICANS bought it, we want to see it!

      • CARLITOS

        WAS.

      • FarmerJack

        And before it was Mexican property it was Spanish property, so maybe Spain should come take Mexico back, right? Nice logic dumbass.

      • gary4205

        Sam Houston traded Santa Ana’s LIFE for Texas. The Texas Army wanted to execute Mexico’s version of Barack Obama on the spot, in San Jacinto. Houston allowed him to live, in exchange for Texas independence.

        BTW, idiot, it only took Houston’s army 18 minutes to wipe out the entire Mexican army of Santa Ana.

        Oh, and one more thing, if we are going to play YOUR game, don’t forget, you Mexicans stole Mexico from SPAIN.

        Now go pound sand.

        • Secret Person

          And before Spain to the Native Americans like the Comanches.

      • N7 Zebracakes

        And Mexico was property of Spain, but I dont hear you bringing that up. Go finish high school

      • Dustin Reece

        Actually you’re here because your piece of kaka of a country is damn near a third world country. Fk Mexico you can keep that sheeeeeit place and your pointless opinions ya pinche frijolero!!

      • Nancy Janzen

        Santa Ana signed away Mexico’s rights in exchange for his miserable life after Deaf Smith and some Tejanos caught him hiding out in a privates uniform.

      • Meggers

        OK did u mean to put that’s why WE ARE here or WE’RE ??? U put WERE !!! Spell check comes in handy so u don’t look like such a dumbass after u call everyone else one or is that how it’s spelled in Mexico ???

        • ChezHozay

          pretty ignorant post, even for a grammar nazi…

      • Momo

        The keyword there is “was.”

  • grendal113

    Why is it where the mexicans run rampant?

    • Neo

      You’re either an idiot, or you didn’t read the article.

      • Rob

        I’m guessing both?

        • TexMex

          Almost certainly both.

      • Marty Lane

        There isnt a county in Texas where Mexicans dont run rampant.

        • grendal113

          I live in corpus. Im beating the odds just breathing. Lol well that and I don’t shoot my gun sideways or let folks close enough to stab me.

          • Neo

            You’re beating the odds by living with all your stupidity.

        • Stella Arson

          run rampant? RUN RAMPANT????????????? if I could make the font larger I would.

          • ShelleysLeg

            Exactly!! Every Hispanic person I have worked with has more than 1 job to support his family and they fly UNDER the radar, knowing that packs of racists live near them. How do they find the time to ‘run rampant’ in between trying to survive?

            I would NOT make myself a target for the trigger happy OCTexas crowd who can’t go to the bathroom without their ‘gunz’ on their rather wide hips.

        • Neo

          I see your comment and raise you this comment. “There isn’t a damn city in Texas without a dumbass boy like you.”

      • grendal113

        Ill wait. Explain what I missed.

    • someone

      To begin with, Brownsville is the safest city in Texas according to this list and the city with the highest number of “Mexicans.” The cities with the highest crime are in west Texas were people like you feed on prejudice and bigotry. Red neck country seems to have the highest crime. As for major cities like in ever state and every country in the world, those will always have high crime rates because of the massive populations. There is more a chance for crimes to happen because you have a bigger pool per se. Why don’t you go read a book or educate yourself a little before throwing around you dense pea-brained waste of a person. I bet talking down to minorities makes you feel better about what you couldn’t accomplish in life. But hey, that’s non of my business.

      • CLM

        Mexicans aren’t a minority anymore – look it up. We’re a majority minority state now. However, I agree with your comment none-the-less.

      • Alan Eskew

        the reason why odessa is number 1 is because of all the out of town Roughnecks that work the field. most of them are not locals and not even from texas. Many of them are from mexico but many or not. But the operative phrase is “out of town”.

        • Justredd66

          Gangs are plentiful in Odessa

          • Carol Morgan

            so are the titty bars…Odessa is the strip club capital of Texas

      • hearnb

        You constantly hear Mexican politicians say , Mexicans are afraid to report crimes to the police though. The real numbers could be much worse.

      • West Texas Native

        Actually there are more Mexicans in west Texas than there are “rednecks”. The reason the crime is so bad is the influx of people due to oil jobs. Hopefully with the prices dropping people will move back home and take their crime with them.

      • grendal113

        The second most corrupt area in Texas and you believe what they report? Bahahahah

    • Shhhh…You’re not supposed to acknowledge that fact out loud. It’s racist…

  • jhk

    Some people should really do some demographic studies before they comment! The stupidity in these comments are really appalling!

  • Matthew Weatherford

    I live in a nice little town between Beaumont and Port Arthur. These towns have murder every single night. Two months ago they had 5 killed in one night in the same home. Beaumont and Port Arthur are dangerous place to live in the wrong place during the witching hour.

  • G

    The border is not safe! Kidnappings, shootouts and home invasions
    on a daily basis does not make it safe. Stop lying to the people!

    • Micho rizzo

      You just can’t fix stupid and dumbass ain’t getting
      Any smarter and opinions are like Assholes some bigger than other and full of shit

  • Angelo_Frank

    San Angelo at #23, located in West Central Texas, is surprisingly rated safer than Austin. Of course with the oil boom nearby, and resulting influx of transient and temporary residents, these statistics could change significantly in the next FBI crime report.

  • Tommy Hyer

    Well, at least Texas isn’t Chicago, Illinois!

    • Kelly

      Not yet, but if we don’t all come together it wont be long.

  • Ryan

    Is any of the influx of people into Odessa over the past 5 years due to the oil boom accounted for in this report? Odessa was at 100,000 at the 2010 census. I think this poorly misrepresents crime in West Texas.

  • Tricia

    This is great! Except you actually give a chart for Texas. Since I am going to move, but staying in Texas, that would be quite helpful.

  • Tricia

    Actually did NOT give a chart for Texas —sorry .

  • Richard Klima

    According to the last census, Odessa was 50.6% Hispanic. Any other questions?

    • Allen Nemo

      I guess my question is: What are you trying to prove here? Brownsville, the safest city in Texas is 93% Latino. I’m from that area and I can tell you violent crime isn’t being underreported any more than anywhere else.

      • grendal113

        It is also the second most corrupt county. …you really think when the prosocuter is going to prison you can trust their reports?

        • Allen Nemo

          Um yes. Actually it’s a really, really safe place to be if you’ve spent any time there, like I have.

  • tidalpool

    Austin has the lowest number of Hispanics as compared with all the metropolitan areas mentioned. For example, in San Antonio last year, in a metro area of some 2 million, we had less then 30 murders, all Hispanic or black. in my city, one murder in 30 years, a black man robbed the freeway stop and go. I would be very interested if crime was separated into ethnic background’s of the perpetrator and the victim, in all cases.

    • grendal113

      They won’t do that. Ever. Im curious as well but it will never happen

    • Secret Person

      The data is there. In 2009, blacks committed 30% of homicides, hispanics 42%. Given that some hispanics are misclassified as white, that means that the hispanic homicide rate is higher. In California, hispanics commit 50% of homicides, rapes, and kidnappings. Sure, there are law abiding, hard working hispanics but there are serious pathologies in their communities and culture that need to be changed.

  • Carrie1912

    Mexico is absolutely beautiful…so why don’t they stay there and make things right?

    • Penny Dreadful

      Mexico is absolutely beautify…so why don’t you go there are stink the place up?

  • Prescott

    This article continues Texas Monthly’s policy of believing that the best life in Texas is Austin, D/FW (mostly “D”), Houston, and San Antonio. Lubbock? Odessa? Amarillo? Really?

    After reading your article, I have not changed my opinion at all. I would never walk alone in the streets of Dallas, San Antonio, or Houston at night. Lubbock, Midland/Odessa, Amarillo — yes, I can do that.

    This story is a biased joke.

    • Nathan

      I agree that some of the rankings do not make sense. I would not walk on the streets in Dallas either. I have lived in Fort Worth, Amarillo, and Lubbock. I would pick FW as being the safer of those. Amarillo went downhill quick while I lived there, and coming back to visit is just depressing. The same with Lubbock. It is not the town I grew up in. At the same time, all cities have their rough areas. And if people are stupid enough to wander into those areas, they are asking for trouble.

  • faberm

    We had a guy break a window in downtown Navasota several years ago. Surprised we didn’t make the list of the most dangerous. LOL

  • Chris M.

    The article is incorrect as it compares Metropolitan Statistical Areas yet cites “cities”. If they wanted to compare cities they should have used Table 8, Offenses Known to Law Enforcement, by State by City, 2013. Additionally the FBI even cautions against using the data for comparative purposes. http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/ucr-statistics-their-proper-use

    I would have hoped that a publication like Texas Monthly would have been a bit more responsible in their reporting on this issue

  • Diane Birdwell

    Horribly written. When writing about a LIST, show us the LIST. Don’t just mention, out of order, the cities on it.

    High school paper writers know better.

  • DYJ 75

    I’m sorry FBI guy’s, Sherman – Denison is not a town ! Sherman is a town and Denison is a town. Do not make us one . We don’t even mention our towns in the same breath unless it’s talking about our over 100 year high school sports rivalry. There aren’t even 100 k people in these 2 towns combined. Sherman 38.5 thousand, Denison 22.5 thousand.

    • Toma421

      Agreed. Although I do bet the under report of crime does help keep these two cities out of the top five

  • Nathan

    the oil boom has a lot to do with the crime rate reported in some of these areas (Midland/Odessa), etc. But it is not just a Texas problem. New Mexico, North Dakota, Montana, all have the same issues. You want a perfect example of that? Drive to Hobbs, NM and spend the day there. The police in that area (SE New Mexico) will actually tell you they recommend you carry a weapon with you driving on the highway, etc.

  • qb

    Statistics are only as reliable as the person reporting. How many crimes are never reported for any number of reasons? Fear or mistrust of the police , understaffed police departments, under reporting by departments, non investigation by police etcetera.It’s hard to put much stock in such ambiguous numbers. There was a report last year which claimed Tulsa Oklahoma to be the most dangerous place to live .Maybe so, but it’s sure not the most dangerous place to die, 30 people were killed in Chicago that same weekend !

  • Wylie Clough

    Texas only has 4 cities in the overall worst 100 in the Us and the worst is 59th, so I think we are doing fairly well http://www.neighborhoodscout.com/neighborhoods/crime-rates/top100dangerous/

  • Jesus

    Why wasn’t El Paso mentioned?

  • ScudAg56

    So Texas Monthly thinks there are only a “Big 4” Texas cities? I beg to differ. Either Austin is one of the “Second 3” or you have to include Fort Worth and El Paso into a “Big 6”. But being only 49,000 more than Fort Worth (and 400,000 LESS than No. 3 Dallas) does not put Austin in with the Big Cities of Texas.
    Houston city 2,099,451
    San Antonio city 1,327,407
    Dallas city 1,197,816
    Austin city 790,390
    Fort Worth city 741,206
    El Paso city 649,121
    Arlington city 365,438

  • Steve Basile

    Hmmmm. “Austin’s reputation as a low-crime city bears out, according to these numbers: the city places 21st of 24 on the list, and its murder rate of 2.8 per 100,000 is by far the lowest of the “big four” Texas cities” Yet you lead with an image of Austin’s East 6th Street and the front of my pub.

  • Rich Kretzschmar

    So yeah Dan that RA sun Deity robot that I am building form Radio Shack and Sprint parts ~ well it’s often seated in Texas to make IT’s comments and notes. Generally on Mondays IT says chú thích

  • lanmanna

    What about Wacko Waco?

  • Your name

    Texarkana is one of the worst Cities in Texas! The police are more than corrupt and disgusting in the country. Meth runs this town and along with the police. My brother and nephew were murdered there and not one authority did any investigation because they are covering the persons whom murdered them.

  • Vet Zero

    Well, try an look at it this way….it’s not like y’all didn’t have it comin. This is just one reason I left Odessa just as soon as I turned 17 and joined the U.S. Army. Maybe when the boom goes bust y’all might get a breather…but I wouldn’t count on it. Lots of Mexican manufactured Meth down there drivin em nuts.

  • If we make everyone who has moved here (Texas) from out of state over the last 30 years leave tomorrow, our crime rate would also go down drastically .

  • Nancy Janzen

    Down here on the border we live and let live.

  • Kathe

    It’s evident that they have never been to the Rio Grande Valley! I have relatives that have lived there all of their lives and it IS NOT safe