The common perception is that living in a small town is safe. For the most part, this is true; few people, fewer problems. However, for some small cities, that is not the case. So we were surprised to learn there are well-known small rural and tourist communities in Michigan with some big-city crime problems.
We used FBI crime statistics collected and reported in 2019. They gathered crime statistics from two key categories: violent crime and property crime. The data presented adhere to the Hierarchy Rule, which states that only the most severe infraction in a multi-offense criminal episode is counted. Thus, murder and negligent manslaughter, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault are the most severe violent crimes, followed by burglary, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft in declining order of severity.
#10 Birch Run
Birch Run is a village in Saginaw County. The area is known for its large outlet mall and as a stopping point for I-75 and Frankenmuth. In 2019, the population was predicted to be 1,462. There were three cases of violent crime and 55 instances of property crime. The crime rate per capita was 3.97*. The crime rate is slightly more significant in this city than in Lansing.
Grayling is the county seat of Crawford County. The area has been called” A beautiful sanctuary in the center of Northern Michigan, is nothing short of a paradise destination for outdoor lovers.” It’s close to Hartwick Pines State Park. This park contains the last remaining old-growth forest that managed to escape the logging industry in the 1800s.
In 2019, the population was estimated at 1,833. There were seven instances of violent crime and 73 cases of property crime. The crime rate per capita was 4.36*. The crime rate in Muskegon is slightly higher.
Lakeview is a village in Montcalm County’s Cato Township, with its thriving center, is located on the banks of beautiful Tamarack Lake. In 2019, the projected population was 1,007. There was one case of violent crime and 43 instances of property crime. The crime rate per capita was 4.37. The crime rate is slightly lower than that of Albion.
Jonesville is a town in Hillsdale County, Michigan. A rural community with a fantastic downtown area featuring shopping, restaurants, historic residences, and summer events. The estimated population in 2019 was 2,204. It had six incidents of violent crime and 95 incidents of property crime. The per capita crime rate was 4.58*. The crime rate is slightly more than in Ypsilanti.
Otsego County’s county seat is Gaylord. It is also a popular tourist site in Michigan. Gaylord’s City Elk Park, Aspen Park, and the Call of the Wild Museum are just a few of the city’s historical landmarks and attractions. In addition, numerous enjoyable activities are available, such as hiking, skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, ice fishing, and many others.
The estimated population in 2019 was 3,709. It had 14 incidents of violent crime and 186 incidents of property crime. The per capita crime rate was 5.39*. The crime rate is slightly more than in Jackson.
#5 Paw Paw
The county seat of Van Buren County is Paw Paw in southwestern Michigan. The charming downtown area is home to a variety of boutique shops, delectable restaurants, and galleries. In addition, the city is located in Southwest Michigan’s Wine Country and has several unique wineries and breweries.
The estimated population in 2019 was 3,370. It had 17 incidents of violent crime and 177 incidents of property crime. The per capita crime rate was 5.76*. The crime rate is slightly less than in Kalamazoo.
#4 South Haven
South Haven, in west Michigan, is located on the shores of Lake Michigan. It is a well-known tourist destination. Some of Michigan’s oldest resorts and bed and breakfasts can be found in the city. It boasts many beaches, a lot of maritime history, many vineyards, and a lot of art galleries.
The estimated population in 2019 was 4,326. It had 24 incidents of violent crime and 258 incidents of property crime. The per capita crime rate was 6.52*. The crime rate in South Haven is slightly greater than in Detroit.
#3 Roosevelt Park
Roosevelt Park, located in Muskegon County north of South Haven and on the shores of Lake Michigan, is a west Michigan city. The city is a mix of residential, commercial, and light industrial development. Roosevelt Park takes pride in being a good neighbor to the border cities of Muskegon and Norton Shores.
The estimated population in 2019 was 3,793. It had three incidents of violent crime and 254 incidents of property crime. The per capita crime rate was 6.78*. The crime rate in Roosevelt Park is also slightly more significant than in Detroit. The fifth highest in Michigan.
Hart is a city located in western Michigan. It is the county seat for Oceania County. The area is known for its proximity to the Silver Lake Sand Dunes, a popular tourist destination.
The estimated population in 2019 was 2,089. It had 17 incidents of violent crime and 131 incidents of property crime. The per capita crime rate was 7.08*. The crime rate in Hart is more significant than in Detroit. The fourth highest in Michigan.
#1 Mackinac Island
Mackinac Island is Michigan’s #1 tourist destination. From the idyllic Grand Hotel to this historic fort, and of course, there is Mackinaw Island fudge. So it’s a bit of a surprise that this bucket list destination appears as number one for the per capita crime rate. However, there are challenges with an estimated 1 million visitors a year. The island had a year-round population of 468 in 2019. It had two incidents of violent crime and 94 incidents of property crime. The per capita crime rate was 20.08. The highest in Michigan.
About The FBI’s Michigan Crime Data
We found a report of the Michigan crime statistics provided by the FBI from over 400 communities in Michigan. We took all the data for communities with less than 5,000 residents and compared their crime rates. The results were surprising and revealing. Needless to say, our perception of crime in small towns has changed.
Michigan Small Town Violent Crime Data
Violent crime is divided into four categories in the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program: murder and negligent manslaughter, rape, robbery, and severe assault. In addition, violent crimes are those that involve the use of force or the threat of force. A total of 1,203,808 violent crimes were reported in the United States in 2019.
Michigan Small Town Property Crime Data
As defined by the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program, property crime comprises burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson. The theft-type offenses involve the theft of money or property, but there is no use of force or threat of force against the victims. There were an estimated 6,925,677 property crime offenses in the United States in 2019.
A Word About Ranking Michigan Crime Data
The FBI cautions to avoid ranking locales against each other. They note that all sorts of mitigating factors affect crime rates, including poverty, the effectiveness of local law enforcement, and other factors that come into play. Thus, no two communities are alike.
Final Thoughts About Michigan’s Small Town Crime Rate
The FBI’s 2019 crime reporting data for Michigan’s small towns are surprising. While the crimes are low, the per capita rates exceed some of Michigan’s largest urban areas.
One aspect we noted about the FBI’s data is that most of the cities on this list are or are near major Michigan tourist areas. Thus the population swells in these towns during the short summer season. Therefore, it would be prudent to refer to this list as a traveler, especially visiting these tourist towns. Luck favors the prepared.
Sources for Michigan Crime News
- FBI — Property Crime. https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2010/crime-in-the-u.s.-2010/property-crime
- About Us | Crawford County Avalanche. http://www.crawfordcountyavalanche.com/about-us
- USGS. https://pubs.usgs.gov/of/1980/0677/report.pdf
- *Per Capita: Definition, Calculation and Usage https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/how-to-calculate-per-capita. Note: To get the Per Capta rate used by most law enforcement reporting multiply the number by 100,000. This generates the number of crimes per 100,000 population.