Puget Sound Cities Not Very Safe

Research company Morgan Quinto released its latest “safest and most dangerous cities” rankings today, and overall, the Puget Sound did not fare particularly well. The Associated Press story reprinted in the P-I explains a little bit about how the 371 cities were ranked:

Cities are ranked based on more than just their crime rate, Morgan said. Individual crimes such as rape or burglary are measured separately, compared to national averages and then compiled to give a city its ranking. Crimes are weighted based on their level of danger.

While no city in Washington showed up on the “25 Safest” or “25 Most Dangerous” lists, the only Puget Sound city that managed to break out of the bottom third of the list was Bellevue, at #57. Seattle came in at #262, more dangerous than 70% of the cities that were ranked. Federal Way, Everett, & Kent fared even worse, ranking 277, 283, and 289, respectively. However, in what probably comes as no surprise to most of us, the lowest-ranked city in the Puget Sound (and even the whole state of Washington) was Tacoma, coming in at a miserable 324 (more dangerous than 87% of the ranked cities).

Here’s a table with all the cities from Washington State that were ranked:

Rank City
57. Bellevue, WA
134. Spokane Valley, WA
188. Vancouver, WA
220. Spokane, WA
262. Seattle, WA
277. Federal Way, WA
283. Everett, WA
289. Kent, WA
304. Yakima, WA
324. Tacoma, WA

I just thought this would be worth pointing out in the context of the “Seattle is a hugely desirable place to live” argument that we frequently hear regarding home prices. For the record, seventeen cities in California ranked higher than Bellevue, our area’s safest city on the list.

Seattle is a nice place to live (I like it here, really!), but I think we would do well to remember that it’s not some kind of perfect paradise.

(Christopher Leonard, Associated Press, 10.30.2006)
(Full Rankings: Associated Press, 10.30.2006)

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About The Tim

Tim Ellis is the founder of Seattle Bubble. His background in engineering and computer / internet technology, a fondness of data-based analysis of problems, and an addiction to spreadsheets all influence his perspective on the Seattle-area real estate market. Tim also hosts the weekly improv comedy sci-fi podcast Dispatches from the Multiverse.


  1. 1
    Lake Hills Renter says:

    Is it just me or is the column width way off in this post?

  2. 2
    The Tim says:

    Zoips! I didn’t notice the problem in Firefox, but when I fired up IE, I saw what you were talking about. I’ve fixed it now.

  3. 3
    MisterBubble says:

    I don’t like Seattle very much, but this seems wonky to me. One of the few nice things about Seattle is that there are relatively few places in town that make me feel unsafe.

    Perhaps it’s the methodology — if they truly compare crime rates to their national averages, then they’re lumping Armpit, Nebraska and NYC together in the same pool. It might make more sense for them to compare crime rates in same-size or same-density regions….I would imagine that Seattle is considerably less safe than Armpit, but more safe than Chicago.

  4. 4
    The Tim says:

    Funny that you should mention Chicago. Interestingly, due to irregularities in crime reporting, no Illinois cities were included in the ranking.

  5. 5
    MisterBubble says:

    Wow. Do these guys do statistical work for the NAR?

  6. 6
    Terry says:

    Very informative post. People contemplating moving to the Seattle area would be well advised to also consider the native killer slugs that are known to stalk small children.

  7. 7
    Richard says:

    MisterBubble said…
    One of the few nice things about Seattle is that there are relatively few places in town that make me feel unsafe.

    If only your car could talk… I rarely worry about where I’m at, but leaving my car anywhere unfamiliar after dark is asking to never see it or the contents again.

  8. 8
    MisterBubble says:

    “If only your car could talk… I rarely worry about where I’m at, but leaving my car anywhere unfamiliar after dark is asking to never see it or the contents again.”

    I don’t know what kind of car you drive, but in six years, I’ve only known one guy who had his car stolen here — it was a Kia (go figure).

    On the other hand, I’ve had more than one of the Friendly Locals bash into my car while it was parked, and then drive off without leaving so much as a note. In one case, a Friendly Local grandmother did so much damage to my car in a hit-and-run that the police officer actually went to her home to make the citation (I had the presence of mind to get her plate number before she took off).

    Hmm…perhaps I’m not afraid of the right people….

  9. 9
    Kaleetan says:


    Seattle is lower than average for Murder and Rape, but way higher for Property Crimes..

    Car theft Is 2.62 times the National Average

    Burgulary Is 1.74 times the National Average.

  10. 10
    uptown says:

    Since Los Angeles came in at 250, and Ft. Worth 246; this is not worth the electrons used to put it on the web.

  11. 11
    synthetik says:

    I’ve been here since March 2006, and so far I have two acquaintances that have had their car stolen, and one broken into… all in capital hill.

  12. 12
    mydquin says:

    1. I have been here a year and I have 1 friend with a stolen car and have heard multiple stories of extended acquaintances being buglarized. Larceny is as bad here as anywhere.

    2. Re: violence: You have to look at differences within the city. Except for a couple of minor hotspots, North Seattle is almost as safe as any place in the US. The central district is a different story.

  13. 13
    trackbike says:

    What a silly post. Another one for the Seattle haters.

  14. 14
    Peckhammer says:

    “I have been here a year and I have 1 friend with a stolen car.”

    I been living in Queen Anne for the past 7 years. 7 vehicles have stolen from our “secured” parking garage. Dozens of vehicles have had their windows broken, stereos stolen, contents stolen, etc. One vehicle had it’s door skin cut open to gain access to the electric window switch, and another one had it’s doors destroyed with a crowbar while the criminals attempted to pry their way in. The car had to be towed to a place where the doors could be opened because of the extreme damage.

    Four units in my building have been broken into; every entry door in this building has been bent, dented and scratched from repeated break-in attempts. The elevator key-way has been destroyed multiple times. When I walk on the property, I hear the familiar crunch of of hypodermic needles breaking underfoot; prostitutes and drug users occupy ever honey bucket on every construction site in this area. There are people living in tents amongst the blackberry bushes across the street…

    When I lived in Boston, I never had to deal with this sort of thing.

    “violence: You have to look at differences within the city. Except for a couple of minor hotspots, North Seattle is almost as safe as any place in the US.”

    This is one of the most uninformed opinions I have ever read. I am aware of numerous shootings, beatings, and other violent crimes in North Seattle. Remember when a bus driver was shot and the bus he was operating careened over the side of the Aurora Bridge and landed on a condominium? I could site dozens of examples of violent crime in this area.

    Washington is a “shall issue” state. Take advantage of this and protect yourself and your family. Your skull is no match for a crowbar.

  15. 15
    RottedOak says:

    The list that gets most of the press is by city, not by metropolitan area. Some cities have very narrow boundaries that only include the urban core, while others include suburban areas. So as misterbubble suggested, it doesn’t always make sense to compare this way. The company that created the lists also did rankings of metro areas and within similar-sized population groups for cities, but these don’t get the same amount of publicity.

    Also keep in mind that the rankings are based just on reports of “murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary and motor vehicle theft.” A lot of stuff that affects quality of life — drug activity, fights, disturbing the peace, etc. — is not included. Plus the relevance of the included items will vary depending on your situation (Are you a man with a nice car living in an area with lots of auto theft, or a young woman with no money who walks to work alone at night? The statistics for individual types of crime will not be equally relevant to these two.)

    That said, these statistics are collected and analyzed by an objective third party. Just because a place seems safe to you (perhaps because you live in a nicer area, or simply haven’t been personally affected by a crime) doesn’t mean the entire city is safer overall than others. Simiarly, your individual experience (first or second hand) of crime does not mean the whole city is a rat hole either.

  16. 16
    Eric D. says:

    Tacoma is still safer than St. Louis at least. Funny thing is look at the median price difference between St. Louis (~139,000) and Tacoma (~250,000). You get a quit a bit more house in St Louis with just a little more crime.

    Btw I’ve known people who lived in St. Louis, most of the serious crime is in concentrated ghetto areas. Same basic thing with Tacoma, still lots of nice areas.

  17. 17
    PepeDaniels says:

    I just had my car broken into in the capital hill area. The radio was stolen. Same thing happened a year and a half ago in Fort Lauderdale a notoriously bad area for property crime (as well as other crime). The only place I’ve never been ripped off is the NY metro area….go figure.

    For what it’s worth, there was a map of four shootings/stabbings in the S-Times yesterday. At least a few of the areas I was surprised about. I was surprised also to see the shooting a month or so ago in Queen Anne.

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