10 Most Dangerous Cities in Kentucky

May 14th 2024
Kentucky is a state not known for violent crime but rather its rural and Appalachian landscapes. However, there are still quite a few parts of the state that should be avoided due to high rates of theft and violent crime. If you are looking to call the Bluegrass State home, check out our list of the ten worst places to live in Kentucky. 

hash-markIs Kentucky Dangerous?

Compared to other US states, Kentucky is not dangerous as it has one of the lowest crime rates in the country. Kentucky's violent crime rate of 214 per 100,000 people is 44% below the national average and makes it one of the safest states in America. Kentucky has also seen a reduction in crime over the last decade, with violent crime dropping by over 5%. 

However, even though Kentucky is a very safe state, it still has places with high crime rates. Whether you're visiting or moving to the state, you'll want to be aware of the worst areas in Kentucky for crime so that you can avoid them or take the neecssary safety precautions. 

hash-markMost Dangerous Cities in Kentucky

  1. Bowling Green
  2. Owensboro
  3. Shively
  4. Paducah
  5. Winchester
  6. Oak Grove
  7. Louisville
  8. Mayfield
  9. Covington
  10. Pikeville

hash-mark1. Bowling Green

Bowling Green is the most dangerous city in Kentucky due to its high crime rate, which is 76% above the national average. Bowling Green is a city located in Warren County and is best known for its Civil War history. The city has a population of 72,294, and the majority of crime in Bowling Green is related to theft and burglary. Out of 3,053 criminal incidents in 2023, Bowling Green had four murders, fifty-six robberies, and eighty-seven assaults. The average income in Bowling Green is 18% below the national average. 

hash-mark2. Owensboro

Owensboro is a dangerous city located in western Kentucky in Daviess County. Out of a population of 60,183, Owensboro has a crime rate that is 65% above the national average. The majority of crime in Owensboro relates to property crime, such as vehicle theft and burglary. There were three murders, thirty-nine robberies, and 130 assaults recorded in Owensboro during 2023. 

hash-mark3. Shively

Shively is also one of the worst cities in Kentucky for crime. Shively is located in Jefferson County and part of the greater Louisville Metro area. Shively has a population of 15,264 and a crime rate that is 54% above the national average. Theft is common in Shively, with cars and homes often being targeted. There were 75 violent crimes recorded in 2023, with this figure including five murders and 35 robberies. Drug trafficking and addiction play a role in much of the crime in Shively and the surrounding area. 

hash-mark4. Paducah

Paducah is a city located between St. Louis and Nashville. With a population of 25,024, Paducah has a crime rate that is 42% above the national average. Crimes such as assault, theft, burglary, and vehicle theft are common in the city. There were six murders recorded in Paducah during 2023. Much of the area struggles with poverty, with the city having an average household income that is 29% below the national average. 

hash-mark5. Winchester

Winchester is a city in Clark County and is part of the greater Lexington-Fayette metropolitan area. The crime rate in Winchester is 41% above the national average, with residents having a 1 in 31 chance of becoming the victim of a crime. There was a total of 459 criminal incidents in Winchester during 2023, including one murder, five robberies, and 335 counts of theft. The average household income in Winchester is 29% below the national average. 

hash-mark6. Oak Grove

Located near Fort Campbell Army Base, Oak Grove is another one of the most dangerous cities in Kentucky. Oak Grove is located in Christian County and has a crime rate that is 33% above the national average. Theft is abundant in the area, with homes and vehicles often being targeted. Three murders and seven robberies were recorded in 2023. While this may not seem like a lot, these numbers are high, considering the city's population is only 7,931. Much of the crime in Oak Grove is fueled by drug activity in the surrounding area. 

hash-mark7. Louisville

Louisville is the most populous city in Kentucky and a major attraction for visitors to the state. It's also one of the worst cities in Kentucky due to its high crime rate. With a population of 633,045, Louisville has a crime rate that is 32% above the national average. Louisville has a high murder rate, with homicides, robberies, and shootings being common. In many neighborhoods, gang activity and associated drug trafficking contribute to much of the crime. 

hash-mark8. Mayfield 

Mayfield is another one of the worst cities in Kentucky for crime. Mayfield is located in Graves County in western Kentucky. The city has a population of 10,017 and a crime rate that is 19% above the national average. The majority of crime in Mayfield relates to theft, burglary, car theft, and other types of property crime. Drug activity is also an issue in the area, and drug-related offenses contributes to much of the crime in Mayfield. 

hash-mark9. Covington

Just south of Cincinnati, Covington is a dangerous city located in northern Kentucky. Covington's crime rate is only slightly below the national average, with the majority of crime relating to theft. Covington had a total of 821 criminal incidents in 2023, including two murders, thirty-two robberies, and ninety-seven burglaries. The area surrounding Covington struggles with poverty and unemployment, with the average household income being 17% below the national average. 

hash-mark10. Pikeville 

Located in the Appalachian foothills, Pikeville is a town in Pike County. Out of a population of 7,754, Pikeville has a crime rate that is 8% above the national average, making it one of the worst towns in Kentucky for crime. In 2023, Pikeville had a total of 178 criminal incidents, including seven robberies, thirteen assaults, and thirty-nine burglaries. The vast majority of crime in Pikeville is related to property theft.