The state of Washington added just under one million new residents between 2010 and 2020, according to Census figures. That equates to a growth rate of 15 percent, which is the seventh highest among all states and represents a slight increase from Washington’s 2010 Census growth rate.

With such a rapid rate of expansion, it’s clear Washington is an attractive place to call home. For those considering making a move to the state or who may be in the market for a move within Washington, it’s important to understand how common property crime is in the state.

More media attention is drawn to violent crime, which is understandable, but the reality remains that the average person is much more likely to experience property crime than violent crime. How common are incidents like burglary and auto theft in Washington and which communities in the state have the highest and lowest rates?

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At A Glance:

    • With #1 being the best, Washington is ranked #42 for property crime out of 50 states + Washington, D.C.
    • You have a 2.68% chance of being a property crime victim in Washington in the next 12 months.
    • Washington’s property crime rate is 27% higher than the average crime rate in the United States.
    • Tukwila has the highest property crime rate in Washington (163.9 incidents per 1,000 people).

 

  • Tukwila is a Seattle suburb with a resident population of just over 20,000. Its state-leading property crime rate is the result of about 3,300 reported incidents in 2019. For comparison, Seattle proper had about 10 times the number of property crimes, and on a given day, the visitors to the commerce-heavy city of Tukwila outnumber residents by more than sixfold.

 

Washington’s average property crime rate is more than five points higher than the overall national rate, and only eight states and the District of Columbia have higher rates. Even among Western, which tend to have high property crime rates, Washington is above average. The West’s average property crime rate is about 24 incidents per 1,000 people. 

Washington’s Most Current Property Crime Rates (2019)

  • Rate of Property Crime
    • Washington average:: 26.8 crimes per 1,000 people
    • National average: 21.1 crimes per 1,000 people

Though Washington has an above-average property crime rate, there is some reason for optimism. That’s because the state has seen property crime decline by 28 percent since 2010, which puts Washington in good company. All but two states (Alaska and North Dakota) also saw property crime fall over the past decade.

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

    • Average Rate of Property Crime:
      • Washington 10-year average: 34.06 crimes per 1,000 people
      • National 10-year average: 25.61 crimes per 1,000 people
    • -28% Has property crime increased or decreased during this time?
      • There was a 28% decrease in property crime in Washington from 2010 as compared to 2019.
    • 2013 Which year had the highest rate of property crime in Washington?:
      • The highest rate of property crime in Washington was 2013 (37.2 crimes per 1,000 people)
    • 2019 Which year had the lowest rate of property crime in Washington?:
      • The lowest rate of property crime in Washington was 2019 (26.8 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.

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

      • Which type of property crime occurred the most in Washington over the past decade?
        • Larceny occurred more than any other property crime at a rate of 23.1 crimes per 1,000 people.
        • Average property crime rate by category
          • Average burglary rate: 7.1 crimes per 1,000 people
          • Average larceny rate: 23.1 crimes per 1,000 people
          • Average vehicle crime rate: 3.9 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 Washington.
      • +16% Which types of property crime have increased during this time period?
        • All types of property crime have fallen in Washington since 2010, but the decline in vehicle theft was the lowest — 16%.
      • -45% Which types of property crime have decreased during this time period?
        • Burglary fell by the highest rate, dropping 45%.

 

Researchers tend to connect crime rates to socioeconomic factors like wealth, jobs, and population density, but Washington would appear to be an aberration judging by related statistics.

 

In fact, the only area where Washington has a worse-than-average rate is in urbanization. Eighty-four percent of Washington residents live in urban areas, which is a few points above average.  

 

The state’s poverty and unemployment rates are better than their respective national rates, and Washington’s median household income is eighth-highest in the country, $78,687.

 

One potential reason for this disparity is due to the concentration of residents in urban areas. While Seattle’s property crime rate is not one of the state’s five highest, Seattle is home to about three-quarters of a million people, and the state’s 10 biggest cities account for nearly 30 percent of its entire population. All 10 have higher property crime rates than the state overall.


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

  • South Bend, Washington (Pacific County)
  • Ilwaco, Washington (Pacific County)
  • Moxee, Washington (Yakima County)
  • Sumas, Washington (Whatcom County)
  • Duvall, Washington (King County)

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

  • Tukwila, Washington (King County)
  • Union Gap, Washington (Yakima County)
  • Burlington, Washington (Skagit County)
  • Fife, Washington (Pierce County)
  • Toppenish, Washington (Yakima County)