The population of Kentucky grew by just over 100,000 between the 2010 and 2020 Census periods, which equates to an increase of less than four percent. While that represents Kentucky’s slowest rate of growth since 1990, it still means that the Bluegrass State is a popular location for many people.
Whether they’re coming in from another state or already resident in Kentucky but are looking for a change of pace, people living in Kentucky want to be sure they can protect their investment.
That’s why we wanted to explore property crime rates in Kentucky to see how the commonwealth stacks up as well as what areas are more prone to property crime than others.
At A Glance:
- With #1 being the best, Kentucky is ranked #19 for property crime out of 50 states + Washington, D.C.
- You have a 1.9% chance of being a property crime victim in Kentucky in the next 12 months.
- Kentucky’s property crime rate is 10% lower than the average crime rate in the United States.
- Pikeville has the highest property crime rate in Kentucky (55.5 incidents per 1,000 people).
- Pikeville’s high rate could be tied to its position as a tourist destination. While the population isn’t exceptionally small (about 6,800 people), its property crime rate is about three times higher than the overall Kentucky rate. Communities with smaller populations and high rates of crime often are commercial or industrial settings, and tourism is a big driver of commerce in Pikeville, which has twice been named one of the 100 best small towns in America.
Kentucky’s property crime rate of 18.9 incidents per 1,000 people is just under two points lower than the overall U.S. rate, and the commonwealth is positioned in the middle compared to its neighbors. Property crime is less common in Kentucky than in Indiana, Ohio, or Tennessee but more common than in Illinois, Virginia, or West Virginia.
Kentucky’s Most Current Property Crime Rates (2019)
- Rate of Property Crime
- Kentucky average:: 18.9 crimes per 1,000 people
- National average: 21.1 crimes per 1,000 people
Like most other states, the property crime rate in Kentucky today is lower than it was 10 years ago. In fact, all but two states (Alaska and North Dakota) have seen property crime rates fall since 2010. The rate dropped in Kentucky by 26 percent, which is just below the average decline of 27 percent.
Kentucky’s Overall Property Crime Trends (2010 – 2019)
- Average Rate of Property Crime:
- Kentucky 10-year average: 22.93 crimes per 1,000 people
- National 10-year average: 25.61 crimes per 1,000 people
- -26% Has property crime increased or decreased during this time?
- There was a 26% decrease in property crime in Kentucky from 2010 as compared to 2019.
- 2011 Which year had the highest rate of property crime in Kentucky?:
- The highest rate of property crime in Kentucky was 2011 (27.26 crimes per 1,000 people)
- 2019 Which year had the lowest rate of property crime in Kentucky?:
- The lowest rate of property crime in Kentucky was 2019 (18.97 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.
Kentucky’s Property Crime Category Trends (2010 – 2019)
- Which type of property crime occurred the most in Kentucky over the past decade?
- Larceny occurred more than any other property crime at a rate of 15.7 crimes per 1,000 people.
- Average property crime rate by category
- Average burglary rate: 5.4 crimes per 1,000 people
- Average larceny rate: 15.7 crimes per 1,000 people
- Average vehicle crime rate: 1.8 crimes per 1,000 people
- Average arson rate: 0.12 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 Kentucky.
- +59% Which types of property crime have increased during this time period?
- The vehicle theft rate in Kentucky climbed by 59% since 2010, making it the only property crime to become more common in Kentucky over the past decade.
- -65% Which types of property crime have decreased during this time period?
- Arson dropped the most, falling 65%, while burglary declined by about 51%.
What do Kentucky’s low property crime rates indicate about the state? Correlation does not equal causation, but many researchers have connected property crime to factors like poverty, unemployment, and urbanization.
So, what do those factors look like in Kentucky? On one hand, 16.3 percent of the commonwealth’s residents live in poverty, which is the fourth-highest rate in the country. However, only 58.4 percent of people in Kentucky live in urban areas. This is far lower than the U.S. urbanization rate of 81 percent, though it represents an increase of about 12 percent since the 1970s. Finally, Kentucky’s unemployment rate for April 2021 was 4.7 percent, below the U.S. rate of about six percent.
In addition to being a complex phenomenon, crime is also hyperlocal, and looking at the community level creates an even more complicated picture. That’s because while Pikeville’s rate was the highest, it was based on only 366 incidents, far fewer than many other, bigger cities. Lebanon Junction, on the other hand, reported only one property crime incident in 2019, and the five towns with the lowest rates had fewer than 10 incidents combined.
Paducah and Bowling Green, two mid-major cities in Kentucky, were fourth and fifth, respectively, for highest property crime rates.
Top 5: Best Property Crime Rates (based on 2019 data)*:
- Lebanon Junction, Kentucky (Bullitt County)
- Sebree, Kentucky (Webster County)
- West Liberty, Kentucky (Morgan County)
- Hickman, Kentucky (Fulton County)
- Bloomfield, Kentucky (Nelson County)
Bottom 5: Worst Property Crime Rates (based on 2019 data):
- Pikeville, Kentucky (Pike County)
- Fulton, Kentucky (Fulton County)
- St. Matthews, Kentucky (Jefferson County)
- Paducah, Kentucky (McCracken County)
- Bowling Green, Kentucky (Warren County)
* Excludes cities with zero property crime reported