West Palm Beach is one of Florida’s most dynamic cities, with gorgeous weather that provides limitless opportunities for outdoor adventures, world-class culture, entertainment, dining, and shopping. Add to that quality schools and neighborhoods and top-notch healthcare, and it’s no surprise that businesses from startups to global, multinational organizations make their home in West Palm Beach.
However, West Palm Beach is known for another quality that is not as inviting. The West Palm Beach crime rate is higher than that of the entire U.S. Let’s dig into the latest crime statistics in West Palm Beach to see how it breaks down.
How West Palm Beach Ranks in Terms of Crime
Although the weather in West Palm Beach is certainly something to brag about, a crime rate of 57 per 1000 residents is not. This staggering statistic means that the city is more dangerous than 97% of all U.S. cities, from the smallest to the largest. More than 94% of cities of all sizes within Florida have lower violent and property crime rates than West Palm Beach.
Number of Annual Crimes in West Palm Beach
If you live in West Palm Beach, your chance of becoming a victim of any crime is 1 in 18. When it comes to violent crimes and property crimes, the statistics are very different. Based on 2016 FBI crime data for this area, the number of reported violent and property crimes in West Palm Beach is 5,909. For every 100,000 residents, 15.47 crimes are committed each day. West Palm Beach’s overall crime rate is 106% higher than the average crime rate of the U.S. Yet, as bad as that sounds, the number of year-over-year crimes committed in West Palm Beach has decreased by 2%. The national violent crime rate fell 0.9%.
Number of Violent Crimes in West Palm Beach
The violent crime rate in West Palm Beach is one of the highest in the U.S. Violent crimes that are tracked include murder and non-negligent manslaughter, rape, and armed robbery, as well as aggravated assault and assault with a deadly weapon. Your chance of being a victim of this type of crime is 1 in 121. In addition, West Palm Beach has one of the highest murder rates in the U.S. compared to towns and cities of all sizes.
Number of Property Crimes in West Palm Beach
Beyond violent crimes, there is also a high amount of property crimes in West Palm Beach. Property crimes tracked include motor vehicle theft, larceny, burglary, and arson. Your chances of becoming a victim of property crime in West Palm Beach is 1 in 21.
A statistic of note within the property crimes is the rate of motor vehicle theft, which is, again, one of the highest in the U.S., as compared to cities and towns of all sizes. You have a 1 in 211 chance of your car being stolen if you live in West Palm Beach.
West Palm Beach Annual Violent and Property Crimes by the Numbers
To break it down further, here are the numbers of violent and property crimes in West Palm Beach as compared to the rest of the nation according to the latest data.
West Palm Beach Violent Crimes
- 25 murders, 66 rapes, 324 robberies, 498 assaults
West Palm Beach Violent Crime Rates per 1,000 Residents
- 0.23 murders, 0.60 rapes, 2.94 robberies, 4.52 assaults
United States Violent Crimes
- 17,284 murders, 135,755 rapes, 319,356 robberies, 810,825 assaults
United States Violent Crime Rates per 1,000 Residents
- 0.05 murders, 0.42 rapes, 0.98 robberies, 2.49 assaults
West Palm Beach Property Crimes
- 850 burglaries, 3,948 thefts, 522 motor vehicle thefts
West Palm Beach Property Crime Rates per 1,000 Residents
- 7.71 burglaries, 35.82 thefts, 4.74 motor vehicle thefts
United States Property Crimes
- 1,401,840 burglaries, 5,519,107 thefts, 773,139 motor vehicle thefts
United States Property Crime Rates per 1,000 Residents
- 4.30 burglaries, 16.94 thefts, 2.37 motor vehicle thefts
Property Crime Is Down, but Violent Crime Is Up
In March 2019, the West Palm Beach police reported that violent crimes have increased, while property crimes have decreased. For instance, motor vehicle thefts and larceny have dropped by double digits. However, the number of violent crimes have risen.
Overall the city’s violent crime rate dropped by 16%, with homicides down by 40% from this same time last year while property crimes are down by about 21%. Homicide is defined as the killing of one human being by another human being. The words homicide and murder are often used as synonyms, but a homicide is not always a crime, while the act of murder always is.
The number of rapes has increased by 16.7%, murders by 8%, robberies by 9.9%, and aggravated assault by 15.2%. Department leaders attribute some of this increase in crime rates to an increase in the crimes being reported.
Safest Neighborhoods in West Palm Beach
Although these statistics seem alarming, keep in mind that there are many cities with high crime rates, including Atlanta, Dallas/Fort Worth, Philadelphia, and Houston. Like any other city in the United States, there are certain areas that you may want to stay away from.
Once seedy, scary, and deserted, the Northwood area has been renovated and open for business with bustling shops and restaurants. The downtown hub featuring City Place shopping and dining, as well as the neighboring Kravis Center for the Performing Arts are fine on foot during the day, but a little less so at night. Other nearby areas are major contributors to crime in West Palm Beach.
This doesn’t mean there are no safe places to live and work in the city. South Side’s overall crime rate is 69% lower than the national average, making it 75% safer than most cities in Florida. The Northwood, Northwood Pines, and Pinewood Park neighborhoods have a crime rate that is the same as the national average, making them 93% safer than most cities in Florida. Flamingo Park, Central Park, El Cid, Sunshine Park, River Walk, Downtown, Grandview Heights, and Southland Park neighborhoods have an overall crime rate that is 18% lower than the national average, making them 57% safer than most cities in Florida.
Least Safest Neighborhoods in West Palm Beach
The above neighborhoods are generally safe and great places to live in West Palm Beach. However, there are some unsavory areas where the crime rate is especially high. For example, Progressive Northwest has an overall crime rate that is 238% higher than the national average, while Southwest’s I is 237% higher. This means that these cities are about 70% less safe than most of the cities in Florida. Lake Mangonia and North Tamarind neighborhoods have an overall crime rate of 213% higher than the national averages, making them 96% less safe than most of the cities in Florida. Palm Club villages and Roosevelt Estates are overall 182% and 177% higher than the national average, respectively. This makes them 81% less safe than other cities in Florida.
How to Look at Crime Statistics
When looking at crime statistics, there are a few things to take into consideration. Often the place where a crime is reported is not the place where it occurred. For example, hospitals, schools, and police stations are places where crimes are reported, but the crimes have not generally occurred in these places. But because the crime is reported there, the numbers may indicate that they are areas with high crime rates.
Often, areas around a police station have a high reported crime rate. This does not mean the area is a high-crime area, just that there are many crimes reported from the police station.
Don’t Forget about Unreported Crime
Another thing to consider is unreported crime in West Palm Beach. Unfortunately, many crimes are unreported in the U.S., and that holds true for crime in West Palm Beach. In the U.S., approximately half of violent crimes and a third of property crimes are reported to the police each year. Theft is the least likely crime to be reported to the police, with only 29% of thefts reported according to 2015 data.
Crimes are under-reported for many reasons, such as lack of trust in the police, fear of repercussions, long waits for the police to respond, or even lack of interest in involving the police in an incident that may seem minor. The rate by which rape, robbery, burglary, and aggravated assault as well as theft and auto theft are reported varies by crime type.
For instance, in 2016, almost four out of five car thefts were reported to the authorities, but less than a quarter of sexual assaults and rapes were. This makes sense since stolen vehicles are expensive to replace and are also more likely to be recovered than other stolen items. Also, most cars are insured, and most insurance policies require a police report before they will pay a claim for a stolen car.
Aggravated assaults almost always involve the use of a weapon and the intent to inflict severe injury. These crimes almost always result in hospitalization, and the majority of states require hospitals to report knife wounds, bullet wounds, and other suspicious injuries to the authorities, though the exact requirements are not the same in every state.
Beware of Comparing Crime Rate Data
In addition, comparing the crime rate data of cities can be problematic. Some cities take a more relaxed outlook when it comes to crimes. Larger cities often don’t report every crime, because of the volume of crime that happens. Smaller crimes, such as shoplifting, may be unreported because the law enforcement agencies are busy with more significant problems, such as home burglary or homicide. Smaller cities may report more of their crimes, including shoplifting and vandalism. This may make these smaller cities seem like they have more crime than larger cities.
Since crime is secretive by nature, measuring it is often inaccurate. Crime statistics are gathered using several methods, such as hospital or insurance records, information from police and other law enforcement agencies, and household surveys. Household surveys can help collect information about under-reported crime and are reliable for reporting trends. However, public surveys usually don’t cover all crimes, often don’t report on crimes against children, do not cover offenders brought before the criminal justice system, and rarely offer statistics helpful for preventing local crimes.
If you need a criminal defense attorney in West Palm Beach with real courtroom experience, contact Weinstein Legal. If you or a loved one are accused of committing a crime, we can help.