For release:
Tuesday, November 26, 1996


Money Names America's Most and Least Dangerous Cities

Based on the Public's Actual Crime Fears Amherst, N.Y. is America's safest city, while Newark is the most dangerous, according to an innovative new Money Magazine/Morgan Quitno ranking that measures local crime rates against the crimes Americans fear the most.

America's 10 safest cities, in descending order: Amherst, N.Y.; Thousand Oaks, Calif.; Irvine, Calif.; Simi Valley, Calif.; Sunnyvale, Calif.; Virginia Beach; Livonia, Mich.; Plano, Texas; Madison, Wisc.; and Mesquite, Texas.

The 10 most dangerous: Newark; Atlanta; St. Louis; New Orleans; Detroit; Baltimore; Miami; Washington, D.C.; Flint, Mich.; and Birmingham, Ala. The Money/Morgan Quitno study also showed no correlation between the size of a city'spolice force and its crime rate. The 10 safest cities maintain police forces that are at least 25% smaller than the national average.

An exclusive nationwide telephone poll of 501 Americans, conducted in October for the nation's largest financial publication by Roper Starch (error margin: plus or minus 4 percentage points), revealed that despite all the attention given to murders, respondents worry most about someone breaking into their homes. A full 66% called burglary a serious or somewhat serious threat to themselves and their families, followed by car theft (61%), robbery (60.4%), aggravated assault (50%), rape (48.5%) and murder (40%).

Money then asked Morgan Quitno, a Lawrence, Kans. research firm that studies crime statistics, to rank America's cities according to the crimes people said threaten them most; the sum of a city's score in the six major crime categories determined its place in the ranking.

The magazine reports in its year-end 1997 Forecast issue that Amherst (pop. 107,000), a bucolic suburb of Buffalo, boasts the nation's lowest rates for overall violent crime and burglary--a respective 88% and 80% below the national average. Amherst police chief John Askey attributes the city's ranking more to its suburban setting and affluent, well-educated population than to any special crime-fighting prowess by his force.

By contrast, Newark (pop. 260,000), a flinty city eight miles west of New York City, has the nation's highest violent-crime rate, along with a car-theft rate that is more than six times the national average. Its largely poor population (the city's median household income of $21,650 is 40% below the national average, and more than 26% of local residents live below the poverty line) is squeezed into less than one-third as much living space as in Amherst.