The state of Maine added fewer than 50,000 residents between 2010 and the 2020 Census, which equates to a growth rate of less than three percent. That’s the state’s slowest 10-year growth rate since the 1970 Census.

Maine may not have been one of the biggest movers over the past 10 years, but the state should be attractive to people for one big reason — property crime is rare in most places in Maine.

While violent crime understandably controls the headlines, property crime is much more common, and the average American is far more likely to become the victim of a property crime like vehicle theft or burglary than they are to be victimized by violence.

What should people considering a move to Maine or Mainers who want a change of scenery know about how the state compares and which communities are most prone to property crime?

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At A Glance:

    • With #1 being the best, Maine is ranked #4 for property crime out of 50 states + Washington, D.C.
    • You have a 1.25% chance of being a property crime victim in Maine in the next 12 months.
    • Maine’s property crime rate is 41% lower than the average crime rate in the United States.
    • Mexico has the highest property crime rate in Maine (45.3 incidents per 1,000 people).
  • Mexico is a town of about 2,600 in central western Maine known for its connection to the paper industry. Along with Rumford, Maine, which sits across from the Androscoggin River, Mexico supplied the workforce for Oxford Paper’s mill. In the early 1960s, the mill employed about 3,000 of the nearly 14,000 people who lived in the two towns combined. Today, employment at the mill is about 600, and Mexico’s high property crime rate is likely related to a small population and position as an industrial community.

Maine has the nation’s fourth-lowest combined rate of property crime, which includes burglary, larceny, arson, and vehicle theft. Only Idaho, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts have lower property crime rates. 

Maine’s Most Current Property Crime Rates (2019)

  • Rate of Property Crime
    • Maine average:: 12.5 crimes per 1,000 people
    • National average: 21.1 crimes per 1,000 people

Not only does Maine have far lower property crime rates than most of the rest of the United States, such incidents are on a steep decline. Only Alaska and North Dakota have seen property crime rise over the past decade, and Maine’s property crime rate is half what it was a decade ago. Massachusetts had the nation’s largest drop in property crime, two-tenths of a percentage point ahead of Maine.

Maine’s Overall Property Crime Trends (2010 – 2019)

    • Average Rate of Property Crime:
      • Maine 10-year average: 19.39 crimes per 1,000 people
      • National 10-year average: 25.61 crimes per 1,000 people
    • -50% Has property crime increased or decreased during this time?
      • There was a 50% decrease in property crime in Maine from 2010 as compared to 2019.
    • 2011 Which year had the highest rate of property crime in Maine?:
      • The highest rate of property crime in Maine was 2011 (25.46 crimes per 1,000 people)
    • 2019 Which year had the lowest rate of property crime in Maine?:
      • The lowest rate of property crime in Maine was 2019 (12.46 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.

Maine’s Property Crime Category Trends (2010 – 2019)

      • Which type of property crime occurred the most in Maine over the past decade?
        • Larceny occurred more than any other property crime at a rate of 14.9 crimes per 1,000 people.
        • Average property crime rate by category
          • Average burglary rate: 3.9 crimes per 1,000 people
          • Average larceny rate: 14.9 crimes per 1,000 people
          • Average vehicle crime rate: 0.65 crimes per 1,000 people
          • Average arson rate: 0.11 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 Maine.
      • +28% Which types of property crime have increased during this time period?
        • As of 2019, all types of property crime have decreased, but vehicle theft had the smallest decline, falling 28%.
      • -70% Which types of property crime have decreased during this time period?
        • The biggest drop in property crime rates in Maine was in arson, which fell 70%; burglaries fell by nearly the same rate, dropping 68%.

What factors combine to make for low property crime rates? While it’s true that crime is a complex and hyperlocal issue, researchers tend to agree that there are a few factors that often come into play, including ones related to economic opportunity and physical proximity. Urbanization, unemployment, and poverty are all believed to play a role in property crime.

Fewer than one in five people in Maine live in cities or urban areas, which is the lowest urbanization rate in the country. The U.S. as a whole has an urbanization rate of about 81 percent. Not only is Maine the nation’s least urban state, the rate has fallen by 23 percent since the 1970s.

Maine also has below-average rates of poverty (about 11 percent vs. 12 percent nationally) and unemployment (just under five percent in Maine vs. six percent in the U.S.), so that would seem to lend credence to those statistical connections when it comes to Maine’s property crime rate.

While the small town of Mexico has Maine’s highest property crime rate, in other communities, high crime rates are unrelated to small population size. For example, Bangor, the third-largest city in Maine, has the second-highest rate of property crime. 

Top 5: Best Property Crime Rates (based on 2019 data)*:

  • Camden, Maine (Knox County)
  • Ashland, Maine (Aroostook County)
  • Cumberland, Maine (Cumberland County)
  • Phippsburg, Maine (Sagadahoc County)
  • Sabattus, Maine (Androscoggin County)

Bottom 5: Worst Property Crime Rates (based on 2019 data):

  • Mexico, Maine (Oxford County)
  • Bangor, Maine (Penobscot County)
  • Brewer, Maine (Penobscot County)
  • Augusta, Maine (Kennebec County)
  • Ogunquit, Maine (York County)

* Excludes cities with zero reported property crimes