The Top 10 Dangerous Cities to Live in Kentucky: A Detailed Analysis with Statistics

Kentucky, often celebrated for its serene rural and Appalachian landscapes, also harbors areas marked by concerning crime rates. This article delves into the top 10 most dangerous cities in Kentucky, providing a detailed analysis bolstered by statistical data to underscore the safety challenges these cities face.

1. Bowling Green

Population: 72,294
Crime Rate (2023): 76% above the national average
Bowling Green tops the list with a crime rate significantly above the national average, primarily attributed to theft and burglary. The city recorded four murders, fifty-six robberies, and eighty-seven assaults in 2023.

2. Owensboro

Population: 60,183
Crime Rate (2023): 65% above the national average
Owensboro’s high crime rate is largely due to property crimes. In 2023, the city reported three murders, thirty-nine robberies, and 130 assaults.

3. Shively

Population: 15,264
Crime Rate (2023): 54% above the national average
Shively, part of the Louisville Metro area, experiences frequent thefts targeting cars and homes. The city recorded 75 violent crimes in 2023, including five murders and 35 robberies.

4. Paducah

Population: 25,024
Crime Rate (2023): 42% above the national average
Paducah’s crime scene is dominated by assault, theft, and burglary. The city had six murders in 2023. Its violent crime rate in 2022 was 26.82 per 1,000 residents, more than twice the national average.

5. Winchester

Population: 18,570
Crime Rate (2023): 41% above the national average
In Winchester, residents face a 1 in 31 chance of being a crime victim. In 2023, there was one murder, five robberies, and 335 thefts.

6. Oak Grove

Population: 7,931
Crime Rate (2023): 33% above the national average
Located near Fort Campbell Army Base, Oak Grove recorded three murders and seven robberies in 2023, with a high incidence of theft.

7. Louisville

Population: 633,045
Crime Rate (2023): 32% above the national average
Louisville, despite being a major tourist attraction, grapples with a high murder rate and prevalent gang activity. Homicides, robberies, and shootings are common issues here.

8. Mayfield

Population: 10,017
Crime Rate (2023): 12% above the national average
Mayfield, while having a crime rate above the national average, interestingly has a violent crime rate 43% below it. The city’s crime primarily revolves around theft, burglary, and car theft.

9. Covington

Population: 40,350
Crime Rate (2019): Slightly below the national average
Covington, in 2022, reported a violent crime rate of 26.24 per 1,000 residents. In 2023, there were 821 criminal incidents, predominantly thefts.

10. Pikeville

Population: Not specified
Pikeville, in 2022, faced safety challenges with a violent crime rate of 25.68 per 1,000 residents, which included one murder, two robberies, and 12 assaults.

A Historical Perspective: The Bluegrass Conspiracy

In the 1980s, Kentucky was rocked by the Bluegrass Conspiracy, involving police officers, lawyers, and politicians in a large-scale drug trafficking ring. This scandal, which led to numerous arrests and convictions, has been a dark chapter in Kentucky’s history and impacted the state’s perception of safety and law enforcement.

Safety Tips for Traveling in Kentucky

Despite these statistics, Kentucky remains a charming southern state. Visitors and residents can enhance their safety by blending in with locals, being cautious in tourist areas, staying informed about neighborhood safety, avoiding risky areas at night, and being vigilant about personal belongings.


While this list highlights the most dangerous cities in Kentucky based on crime rates, it’s important to note that these statistics can change annually. Additionally, these numbers don’t necessarily reflect the overall quality of life or economic opportunities in these cities. Efforts are continually made by these communities to improve safety and create secure environments for their residents.