Pennsylvania added about 300,000 new residents between the 2010 and 2020 Census reports, equating to a growth rate of just over two percent. That’s one of the slowest in the country and Pennsylvania’s most sluggish 10-year Census growth rate since 1990.
Still, given Pennsylvania’s great and growing population, it seems clear the commonwealth remains a popular spot for many people. Whether they’re considering relocating from another state or are looking to make a move within Pennsylvania, it’s important for people to understand the state of property crime.
While violent crime understandably garners more attention, property crime is much more likely to affect your life. Just how common is it in Pennsylvania, and which cities and towns in the commonwealth have the lowest (and highest) rates?
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At A Glance:
- With #1 being the best, Pennsylvania is ranked #7 for property crime out of 50 states + Washington, D.C.
- You have a 1.4% chance of being a property crime victim in Pennsylvania in the next 12 months.
- Pennsylvania’s property crime rate is 33% lower than the average crime rate in the United States.
- Eddystone has the highest property crime rate in Pennsylvania (73.2 incidents per 1,000 people).
- Eddystone is a borough of about 2,400 along the Delaware River. Its high property crime rate is due to its position as a largely industrial community. Across the country, many of the communities with the highest property crime rates are those that for whatever reason have more visitors than residents, and Eddystone has a long industrial history that extends to the present and includes a Boeing Integrated Defense Systems plant.
Pennsylvania’s average property crime rate is about seven points lower than the nation’s property crime rate, which is in keeping with other Northeastern states. In fact, the average state in the region has a property crime rate of about 13.5 incidents per 1,000 people, which puts Pennsylvania just over the regional average. Only six states have lower property crime rates than Pennsylvania — five of the six are in the Northeast.
Pennsylvania’s Most Current Property Crime Rates (2019)
- Rate of Property Crime
- Pennsylvania average:: 14 crimes per 1,000 people
- National average: 21.1 crimes per 1,000 people
Property crime has declined precipitously in Pennsylvania over the past 10 years. Since 2010, property crime in Pennsylvania declined by 35 percent, which puts the commonwealth in ample company. In fact, all but two states (Alaska and North Dakota) saw property crime rates fall during that time.
Pennsylvania’s Overall Property Crime Trends (2010 – 2019)
- Average Rate of Property Crime:
- Pennsylvania 10-year average: 18.64 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?
- There was a 35% decrease in property crime in Pennsylvania from 2010 as compared to 2019.
- 2011 Which year had the highest rate of property crime in Pennsylvania?:
- The highest rate of property crime in Pennsylvania was 2011 (22.2 crimes per 1,000 people)
- 2019 Which year had the lowest rate of property crime in Pennsylvania?:
- The lowest rate of property crime in Pennsylvania was 2019 (14 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.
Pennsylvania’s Property Crime Category Trends (2010 – 2019)
- Which type of property crime occurred the most in Pennsylvania over the past decade?
- Larceny occurred more than any other property crime at a rate of 14.2 crimes per 1,000 people.
- Average property crime rate by category
- Average burglary rate: 3.3 crimes per 1,000 people
- Average larceny rate: 14.2 crimes per 1,000 people
- Average vehicle crime rate: 1.1 crimes per 1,000 people
- Average arson rate: 0.1 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 Pennsylvania.
- +26% Which types of property crime have increased during this time period?
- All four types of property crime have declined, but the decrease in vehicle theft was the lowest, 26%.
- -58% Which types of property crime have decreased during this time period?
- Burglary fell by the highest rate, dropping 58%.
What factors contribute to high or low crime rates? While that’s not a simple question, many researchers have identified socioeconomic factors as the biggest contributors to property crime. That includes things like wealth, employment, and population density.
Exploring Pennsylvania’s statistics in those areas does not bring clarity, unfortunately, as the commonwealth has roughly average rates in many areas rather than much lower rates that would nod toward its lower property crime rates.
For example, about 12 percent of Pennsylvania residents live below the poverty line, which is just below the national rate of 12.3 percent. And while Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate in May 2021 was well above average (6.9 percent vs. 5.5 percent), urbanization is below average (78 percent vs. 81 percent).
Of course, the limitations of examining state-level statistics to understand a local issue creates problems as well. Because crime is a street-by-street phenomenon, it’s worth noting that property crime rates vary dramatically across the commonwealth. We’ve explored Eddystone’s high property crime rate already, but contrast that crime rate (73 incidents per 1,000 people) with the rate in McSherrystown — 0.32 per 1,000.
Top 5: Best Property Crime Rates (based on 2019 data)*:
- McSherrystown, Pennsylvania (Adams County)
- Manor Township, Pennsylvania (Armstrong County)
- Elizabeth, Pennsylvania (Allegheny County)
- Lawrence Park Township, Pennsylvania (Erie County)
- Port Carbon, Pennsylvania (Schuylkill County)
Bottom 5: Worst Property Crime Rates (based on 2019 data):
- Eddystone, Pennsylvania (Delaware County)
- South Strabane Township, Pennsylvania (Washington County)
- Union Township, Pennsylvania (Lawrence County)
- Athens Township, Pennsylvania (Bradford County)
- Pottstown, Pennsylvania (Montgomery County)
* Excludes cities with zero property crimes reported