5 U.S. Cities Too Dangerous to Move To

BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- Americans face about 1-in-30 odds of becoming crime victims in any given year -- but that'll jump to as high as 1 in 7 if you move to some communities atop NeighborhoodScout.com's 2013 Most Dangerous Cities in the U.S. rankings.

"These cities are the most dangerous in terms of what scares people the most: murder, rape, armed robbery and aggravated assault," NeighborhoodScout CEO Andrew Schiller says.

NeighborhoodScout, a data-analytics company based outside Boston, compiles its list annually by analyzing crime data for thousands of U.S. municipalities with 25,000 residents or more.

Schiller says communities with the highest violent-crime rates are typically former manufacturing towns that fell on hard times when local factories shut down.

"Most of the worst places are old industrial areas that have economies that are either collapsing or have collapsed," he says. "Their populations have shrunk dramatically, leaving a concentration of folks who've chosen to stay even though there aren't many opportunities."

The expert adds that cities with the nation's worst crime rates all have "a very disproportionate number of single-parent households that are living in poverty."

Still, Schiller doesn't categorically advise against moving to a high-crime city, noting that every community has its strengths and weaknesses.

For instance, he says people moving to Greater Boston near NeighborhoodScout's headquarters will face some lousy weather, high home prices and long commutes to work.

"Every place has issues," Schiller says. "There's really no such thing as a bad neighborhood if it's a good match for what you're personally looking for."

If what you're looking for is a safe neighborhood, click below to check out five communities you should avoid: NeighborhoodScout's 2013 most-dangerous U.S. cities.

The site based its rankings on violent-crime rates for each community as of 2011, the latest year with final figures available. (NeighborhoodScout augmented the annual crime statistics that municipal police departments report to the FBI with figures from local sheriffs, transit police, university police and other law-enforcement agencies.)

All references to violent crimes refer to murder, robbery, aggravated assault and forcible (as opposed to statutory) rape, while references to property crimes refer to burglary, larceny/theft and automotive theft. And while NeighborhoodScout ranks cities' danger levels based on violent-crime rates alone, the listed odds of residents becoming victims refer to both violent and property crimes.

Fifth-most-dangerous U.S. city to move to: Saginaw, Mich.

Saginaw, an old industrial town some 100 miles northwest of Detroit, has seen crime soar as the manufacturing sector's decline drained the city of jobs and people.

The 51,300-population community has a murder rate that's 3.6 times the national average and rape and robbery levels almost three times what's typical for a city of Saginaw's size. Worse, the community's aggravated-assault rate is nearly eight times the U.S. average, which Schiller calls "outrageous."

Saginaw residents also face a property-crime rate 32% above the U.S. average, including a burglary rate that's more than triple the national average.

And while local rates of car thefts and larceny/theft are actually below average, Saginaw residents nonetheless run a 1-in-16 chance of falling victim to crime in any given year.

Fourth-most-dangerous U.S. city to move to: West Memphis, Ark.

Located across the Mississippi River from Memphis, West Memphis suffers from violent-crime rate more than six times the U.S. average.

That includes a rape rate 5.3 times the national average, as well as a level of murders three times higher than you'd expect given the city's 26,000 population.

West Memphis also suffers from an aggravated-assault rate 7.3 times higher than average, as well as 3.9 times the typical number of robberies on a per-capita basis.

Add the fact that West Memphis has more than three times the average rate of property crimes and you've got about a 1-in-8 chance of becoming a victim there in any given year.

Schiller attributes some of West Memphis' problems to a spillover of crime from Memphis itself, which NeighborhoodScout ranks as America's 22nd-most-dangerous city.

Third-most-dangerous U.S. city to move to: Flint, Mich.

Filmmaker Michael Moore chronicled the decline and fall of his hometown of Flint in the 1989 documentary Roger & Me, which detailed the city's woes following moves by General Motors ( GM) to close several factories there.

Flint, which is some 40 miles south of Saginaw, has lost even more jobs and residents since -- leading to lots of crime.

The city's overall violent-crime rate is more than six times the U.S. average, including a murder rate that's 10.2 times what's typical.

Flint's 101,600 residents also face an aggravated-assault rate nearly seven times above average, as well as a robbery rate more than five times the average and rape levels 3.3 times the U.S. norm.

Coupled with five times the typical level of burglaries, more than three times the expected number of auto thefts and 15%-above-average larceny/thefts, bad guys target about one Flint resident in 11 in any given year.

Second-most-dangerous U.S. city to move to: Camden, N.J.

The crime rate in the hometown of Campbell Soup Co. ( CPB) is anything but "Mmm Mmm Good."

Located across the Delaware River from Philadelphia (itself ranked as America's 50th-most-dangerous city), Camden's 77,300 residents face a violent-crime rate that's 7.2 times the U.S. average.

That includes a murder rate more than 12 times the national average, as well as 9.7 times more robberies than what's typical for a city its size. Camden also has 6.4 times the national rate of aggravated assaults and 3.2 times the rate of rapes.

"All of those numbers are outrageously high, but the murder and armed-robbery rates are really standouts," Schiller says.

Unfortunately, Camden's nonviolent-crime levels aren't much better.

Locals face more than twice the typical U.S. property-crime rate, including 4.5 times the usual number of car thefts for a community Camden's size. All told, residents have about a 1-in-11 chance of becoming crime victims in any given year.

Most dangerous city to move to: East St. Louis, Ill.

East St. Louis crime rates have soared as the city struggled through decades of population losses, job declines and the construction of highways that bisected its neighborhoods.

Situated across the Mississippi River from St. Louis (America's eighth-most-dangerous city), East St. Louis' violent-crime rate is more than 15 times the national average -- and includes an aggravated-assault rate that's nearly 20 times the norm. East St. Louis also has murder levels 18.6 times above what's typical given its size, as well as 8.8 times the average U.S. robbery rate and 7.1 times the usual rape rate.

Add in a property-crime rate that's nearly three times the national average -- including almost seven times as many car thefts as you'd expect given the city's 27,000 population -- and East St. Louis is easily America's most dangerous city. Residents have a 1-in-7 chance of becoming crime victims there in any given year.

"Crime is just off the charts in East St. Louis," Schiller says.

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