Many cities in Southern CA are notorious for having high crime rates. In many of these cities, these crime rates are a bit exaggerated. In 2016, the crime rate increased slightly in California, but the actual crime levels are even lower today than in many periods in the past.
Still, some cities are statistically more dangerous. Because of higher crime rates, some of the cities discussed below are hot spots for crime. If you or a loved one lives in Southern California and was arrested or charged with a crime, talk to an attorney. A Ventura criminal defense lawyer at Bamieh and De Smeth offer free consultations on new criminal defense cases.

Worst Crime Cities in Southern California

There are many small communities and towns in Southern California. In most cases, crimes are committed against neighbors and people you know. Crimes are also usually tracked in rates per 1,000 people in that town. This helps compare crime rates between places of different populations. However, many of the places with the highest crime rates in CA are actually very small towns with under 100 residents. In other cities with bigger populations, there are less than 200 crimes committed in an entire year. To avoid looking at these as the “most dangerous” towns, we have only looked at cities with over 2,000 residents and over 200 crimes per year. Doing this, we see that the most dangerous cities, in order of violent crime rate, are the following:


Unsurprisingly, Compton is one of the most violent cities in California. With a history of violent crimes, gang violence, and drug trade, people across the country know there is heavy crime in Compton. Specifically, Compton has around 1,129 violent crimes each year, and 2,619 property crimes. This means its crime rate (per 1,000 residents) is 11.49 for violent crimes and 26.66 for property crimes. However, the actual number of crimes is relatively low (totaling under 4,000 crimes). Compared to the California average of 4.26 crimes per 1,000 people for violent crime and 26.18 for property crimes, we see a disproportionate rate of violent crime in Compton. Usually, the most common violent crime is simple assault, but this rate would also include crimes like aggravated assault and even robbery.

San Bernardino

San Bernardino made national news a few years ago with the deadly mass shooting in December 2015. In a typical year, there are 44 murders in San Bernardino – which shows that that single shooting was responsible for nearly a third of what usually occurs. The overall violent crime rate is around 9.92 crimes per 1,000 residents, and the property crime rate is 43.05. This shows that both of these rates are much higher than California’s average. The violent crime rate is around 2.3 times that of California as a whole, and the amount of thefts and other property offenses is around 1.6 times CA’s general rate.


With a population of 23,349, this San Bernardino suburb sees far less crime volume – but adjusted for population, it has one of the highest property crime rates on this list. With 33.45 property crimes per 1,000 residents, Barstow has a surprisingly high crime rate. However, there are only a total of 217 violent crimes and 781 property crimes committed in the city each year. Compared with the total crime numbers in San Bernardino (2,128 violent crimes and 9,239 property crimes), Barstow seems tame.


The LA suburb of Hawthorne is probably best known as the childhood home of the Beach Boys. However, it also boasts a relatively high crime rate for California. The property crime rate of 29.86 crimes per 1,000 citizens is closer to California’s overall rate, but there are still 7.59 violent crimes per 1,000 residents – beating CA’s rate of 4.26. Since this is a smaller town, this still only amounts to a total of 3,246 total crimes in a year.

West Hollywood

West Hollywood’s high tourism and social atmosphere make it a target for criminal activity. With a total of 1,592 crimes per year, it has a lower total number of crimes than many on our list. However, it still boasts a violent crime rate of 7.52 crimes per 1,000 residents, and property crime rate of 37.32.

Other Notable Crime Cities in California

Many cities like Inglewood, Huntington Park, Long Beach, and Los Angeles itself get a bad rap as being heavy crime cities. Each of these cities ranks lower than the five listed above, and many rank lower than even some very small towns. While some neighborhoods in LA may be more dangerous than entire cities, this often comes down to crime rate as opposed to overall number of crimes, in many cases.

Southern California Criminal Defense Lawyers

The Southern California criminal defense attorneys at The Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth represent those charged with crimes throughout SoCal. If you or a loved one was charged with a crime, contact our Ventura or Santa Barbara law offices today for a free consultation on your criminal charges. Our phone number is (805) 643-5555.