After a few decades of rapid population growth between 1970 and 2010, Arkansas’ population expanded by just over three percent over the past decade, according to 2020 Census figures.
One reason growth may have begun to slow in Arkansas is that the state has higher-than-average rates of property crime. While violent crime tends to grab more headlines, the average person is far more likely to be victimized by a property crime than a violent one.
So, where does Arkansas stand when it comes to crimes like theft and burglary, how has property crime changed in the state over the past decade, and which communities have the highest and lowest rates?
At A Glance:
- With #1 being the best, Arkansas is ranked #46 for property crime out of 50 states + Washington, D.C.
- You have a 2.86% chance of being a property crime victim in Arkansas in the next 12 months.
- Arkansas’ property crime rate is 35% higher than the average crime rate in the United States.
- Hot Springs has the highest property crime rate in Arkansas, about 71 incidents per 1,000 people.
- Hot Springs has a permanent population of about 39,000, but the city is known largely for its namesake hot springs. The natural features make Hot Springs one of the most bustling resort cities in the South. Pre-pandemic, tourism was booming in Hot Springs, and major commercial areas are major draws for property crimes.
The most recent combined property crime rate in Arkansas was just under 29 incidents per 1,000 people, more than seven points higher than the overall U.S. property crime rate. But the rate in Hot Springs was more than double.
Arkansas’ Most Current Property Crime Rates (2019)
- Rate of Property Crime
- Arkansas average:: 28.58 crimes per 1,000 people
- National average: 21.1 crimes per 1,000 people
Property crime is on the decline in Arkansas, at least according to available pre-pandemic data. Between 2010 and 2019, property crime rates dropped by nearly 20 percent in Arkansas. While that’s undoubtedly good news, the decline in Arkansas was one of the lowest in the country. Still, 2019 marked the 10-year property crime low in the state.
Arkansas’ Overall Property Crime Trends (2010 – 2019)
- Average Rate of Property Crime:
- Arkansas 10-year average: 33.46 crimes per 1,000 people
- National 10-year average: 25.61 crimes per 1,000 people
- -19% Has property crime increased or decreased during this time?
- There was a 19.57% decrease in property crime in Arkansas from 2010 as compared to 2019.
- 2011 Which year had the highest rate of property crime in Arkansas?:
- The highest rate of property crime in Arkansas was 2011 (37.58 crimes per 1,000 people)
- 2019 Which year had the lowest rate of property crime in Arkansas?:
- The lowest rate of property crime in Arkansas was 2019 (28.58 crimes per 1,000 people)
What incidents fall under the umbrella of property crime? Burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft, and arson are the four major property crime categories reported by the FBI. In every case, if the incident involves violence or threats of violence, it no longer is a property crime and is classified as a violent crime.
Arkansas’ Property Crime Category Trends (2010 – 2019)
- Which type of property crime occurred the most in Arkansas over the past decade?
- Larceny occurred more than any other property crime at a rate of 22.55 crimes per 1,000 people.
- Average property crime rate by category
- Average burglary rate: 8.78 crimes per 1,000 people
- Average larceny rate: 22.55 crimes per 1,000 people
- Average vehicle crime rate: 2.13 crimes per 1,000 people
- Average arson rate: 0.2 crimes per 1,000 people
- Note: There were no FBI estimates for arson rates, so we used all available data that was reported by individual cities in Arkansas.
- +29% Which types of property crime have increased during this time period?
- Vehicle theft was the only type of property crime to increase since 2010, rising 29%.
- -46% Which types of property crime have decreased during this time period?
- Burglary has decreased the most; it was down 46% in 2019.
The root causes of crime are myriad and complicated, but researchers tend to agree that high property crime rates are tied to economic factors like poverty and unemployment as well as societal factors like urbanization.
More than 16 percent of Arkansas residents live below the poverty line, which is the fifth-highest rate in the U.S., according to Census data. Arkansas has become increasingly urbanized over the past several decades, and today, more than half of the state’s residents live in urban areas. On the other hand, the state’s unemployment rate is one of the lowest in the country, sitting at about four percent in April 2021.
Of course, crime is a hyperlocal issue, and what’s true in one city could be a completely different story just a few miles away. In fact, Amity, which has one of the lowest property crime rates (2.96 per 1,000), is in the same county as Caddo Valley, which has the fourth-highest rate (57.28 per 1,000). Among cities that reported property crimes in 2019, Norfolk’s rate was the lowest (1.87 per 1,000).
Top 5: Best Property Crime Rates (based on 2019 data)*:
- Norfork, Arkansas (Baxter County)
- Greenbrier, Arkansas (Faulkner County)
- Luxora, Arkansas (Mississippi County)
- Amity, Arkansas (Clark County)
- Cave Springs, Arkansas (Benton County)
Bottom 5: Worst Property Crime Rates (based on 2019 data):
- Hot Springs, Arkansas (Garland County)
- Little Rock, Arkansas (Pulaski County)
- Fort Smith, Arkansas (Sebastian County)
- Caddo Valley, Arkansas (Clark County)
- Fordyce, Arkansas (Dallas County)
* Excludes cities with zero property crime reported