Discover the 5 Most High-crime Cities in California

California, often celebrated for its idyllic climate, stunning coastlines, and vibrant multiculturalism, harbors pockets of heightened crime rates, standing in stark contrast to its picturesque image. The FBI’s Crime Data Explorer for 2020 reveals the following five Californian cities grappling with elevated crime levels:

1. Emeryville:

Nestled in Alameda County and home to approximately 12,000 residents, Emeryville boasts the highest violent crime rate in the state. At 1,590 incidents per 100,000 residents, this figure is more than four times the national average of 366.7.

Additionally, Emeryville contends with a significantly elevated property crime rate of 11,181 per 100,000 residents, more than three times the national rate of 2,109.9. Notably recognized for its shopping centers, dining establishments, and accommodations, Emeryville’s profile is tainted by issues such as drug trafficking and gang activity.

2. Oakland:

As the largest city on this list, with a population exceeding 438,000, Oakland claims second place in violent crime and fourth in property crime across the state. In 2020, Oakland reported 12,948 violent crimes and 25,596 property crimes, translating to rates of 2,955 and 5,837 per 100,000 residents, respectively.

Persistent social unrest, poverty, and racial tension contribute to Oakland’s elevated crime levels. Furthermore, the city’s status as a major port and a hub for drug smuggling and human trafficking exacerbates its security challenges.

3. Commerce:

Situated in Los Angeles County and housing around 13,000 residents, Commerce ranks third in violent crime and second in property crime within California. In 2020, Commerce documented 1,271 violent crimes and 9,741 property crimes, yielding rates of 9,741 and 74,701 per 100,000 residents, respectively.

An industrial city known for its casinos, warehouses, and factories, Commerce features a substantial Hispanic population and grapples with high poverty rates.

4. Red Bluff:

Located in Tehama County and home to approximately 14,000 residents, Red Bluff claims the fourth highest violent crime rate and the fifth highest property crime rate in the state. Red Bluff’s records for 2020 indicate 1,026 violent crimes and 5,493 property crimes, equating to rates of 7,328 and 39,236 per 100,000 residents, respectively.

This rural city confronts challenges such as unemployment, homelessness, and substance abuse, in addition to a notable concentration of sex offenders and domestic violence cases.

5. Barstow:

In San Bernardino County and housing around 24,000 residents, Barstow ranks fifth in violent crime and third in property crime across California. The city reported 1,463 violent crimes and 7,215 property crimes in 2020, resulting in rates of 6,088 and 29,979 per 100,000 residents, respectively.

Barstow, a desert city acting as a gateway to tourist attractions and military bases, contends with low median incomes and high dropout rates.


These five cities, while not emblematic of the entire state of California, serve as poignant examples of the challenges and risks confronting certain Californians daily. Improving safety and enhancing quality of life in these areas necessitates increased resources, support from state and federal governments, and the active involvement of local residents.

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