The rapid population expansion Delaware enjoyed in the 1990s has slowed considerably, and while the state has added about 100,000 residents since the 2010 Census, its 10-year growth rate has declined for three consecutive decades.
Still, many people may be considering relocating to Delaware from another state or looking to capitalize on low mortgage interest rates by purchasing a home in a new community. Whether they buy or rent, choosing a safe community is of the utmost importance, which is why it’s important to consider how common property crime is in a state or city before investing your resources.
How common is property crime in Delaware, how has it changed over the past decade, and which communities in Delaware have the highest (and lowest) rates?
At A Glance:
- With #1 being the best, Delaware is ranked #29 for property crime out of 50 states + Washington, D.C.
- You have a 2.25% chance of being a property crime victim in Delaware in the next 12 months.
- Delaware’s property crime rate is 7% higher than the average crime rate in the United States.
- Rehoboth Beach has the highest property crime rate in Delaware (82.79 incidents per 1,000 people).
- Rehoboth Beach is a tourist destination along the Atlantic Coast. The permanent population is only about 1,400, but the town is one of the primary destinations in Delaware’s $3 billion tourism industry. Communities with low populations and/or those that are heavily commercial tend to have higher property crime rates, and Rehoboth Beach fits both those.
Delaware’s combined property crime rate in 2019, the most recent year with available data, was slightly higher than the overall U.S. property crime rate. However, Rehoboth Beach had a considerably higher rate than the rest of the state by nearly quadruple.
Delaware’s Most Current Property Crime Rates (2019)
- Rate of Property Crime
- Delaware average:: 22.52 crimes per 1,000 people
- National average: 21.1 crimes per 1,000 people
Like all but two states (Alaska and North Dakota), Delaware’s property crime rate has fallen over the past 10 years, dropping by about 35 percent since 2010. Delaware’s property crime rate in 2019 was the lowest of the decade.
Delaware’s Overall Property Crime Trends (2010 – 2019)
- Average Rate of Property Crime:
- Delaware 10-year average: 28.74 crimes per 1,000 people
- National 10-year average: 25.61 crimes per 1,000 people
- -35% Has property crime increased or decreased during this time?
- Property crime rates in Delaware have fallen by about 35% since 2010.
- 2010 Which year had the highest rate of property crime in Delaware?:
- The highest rate of property crime in Delaware was 2010 (34.53 crimes per 1,000 people)
- 2019 Which year had the lowest rate of property crime in Delaware?:
- The lowest rate of property crime in Delaware was 2019 (22.52 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.
Delaware’s Property Crime Category Trends (2010 – 2019)
- Which type of property crime occurred the most in Delaware over the past decade?
- Larceny occurred more than any other property crime at a rate of 21.36 crimes per 1,000 people.
- Average property crime rate by category
- Average burglary rate: 5.81 crimes per 1,000 people
- Average larceny rate: 21.36 crimes per 1,000 people
- Average vehicle crime rate: 1.57 crimes per 1,000 people
- Average arson rate: 0.07 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 Delaware.
- +23% Which types of property crime have increased during this time period?
- All property crime rates have dropped since 2010, but the decline in vehicle crime was the slowest, 23%.
- -65% Which types of property crime have decreased during this time period?
- Arson had the most dramatic decline, with rates falling 65% between 2010 and 2019.
While drivers of crime are the source of constant study, many researchers have concluded that factors like poverty, unemployment, and urbanization tend to contribute to property crime rates.
Delaware’s rates of all three of those contributing factors seem to be in line with its slightly above-average property crime rate. About 11 percent of the state’s residents are in poverty compared to about 12 percent nationally; just over six percent of residents were unemployed in April 2021, which is nearly identical to the U.S. rate; and about 83 percent of Delaware residents live in urban areas compared to about 81 percent for the U.S. as a whole.
Exploring state-level statistics can only get you so far, even in a geographically small state like Delaware. The city with the highest property crime rate, Rehoboth Beach, is in the same county as the city with the lowest rate, Ocean View. The two communities are about 25 miles apart, but their property crime rates are dramatically different. Ocean View’s property crime rate of 8.72 per 1,000 is nearly 10 times lower than that of Rehoboth Beach.
Top 5: Best Property Crime Rates (based on 2019 data):
- Ocean View, Delaware (Sussex County)
- Clayton, Delaware (Kent and New Castle counties)
- Felton, Delaware (Kent County)
- Milton, Delaware (Sussex County)
- Lewes, Delaware (Sussex County)
Bottom 5: Worst Property Crime Rates (based on 2019 data):
- Rehoboth Beach, Delaware (Sussex County)
- Bethany Beach, Delaware (Sussex County)
- Seaford, Delaware (Sussex County)
- Dover, Delaware (Kent County)
- Milford, Delaware (Kent and Sussex counties)