A Small California Town is Suddenly the 1st Most Dangerous in State

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Written By Ryan Johnson






Even California, with its bright weather, many cultures, and rising economy, is not without its share of perils. Unbelievably, the little town of San Mateo has lately acquired the unenviable distinction of being the most dangerous in the state. Let’s look at the statistics, investigate the reasons, and talk about possible fixes.

The Startling Data

The most recent FBI crime figures show that San Mateo has shot to the top of the risk rankings. At 1,387 violent crimes per 100,000 people in 2023, the town reported a startling number that is more than three times higher than the national average. A darker reality now conflicts with the picture of palm-lined avenues and beach attractiveness.

Breaking Down the Roots

Epidemic of Drugs

The problem in San Mateo is a drug pandemic. Tucked down in the center of the Bay Area, the hamlet is situated along the infamous Interstate 5 corridor, a primary conduit for drug trafficking from Mexico to Canada.

Through its veins run methamphetamine, heroin, and fentanyl, drawing traffickers, addicts, and gangs. Lack of social services and economic prospects makes the issue worse. With a higher than state average poverty rate of 18.9%, many locals find it difficult to obtain steady employment, particularly in light of the severe economic damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Regional Separation

Geographically, San Mateo faces additional difficulties. Mountain, forest, and river surround the hamlet, which is situated roughly 160 miles north of Sacramento, the state capital, and 230 miles north of San Francisco. Effective access to and monitoring of the region is challenging for law enforcement organizations. The sheer amount and seriousness of crimes frequently overwhelm the few police officers.

Consequences and Effect on Community

There are serious fallouts from this increase in crime. Property is damaged, lives are lost, and the town’s standing suffers. In 2023, San Mateo had 1,055 aggravated assaults, 237 rapes, 433 robberies, and 24 killings. Further besetting the neighborhood are property crimes, which include 1,038 burglaries, 2,353 larcenies, and 501 thefts of motor vehicles. The state and country’s highest rates of these kinds of crimes cloud San Mateo’s once-attractive charm.

Most Common Crime Types in San Mateo

The most often committed property offense in San Mateo is larceny. Being the illegal seizure of personal property without the use of force, larceny is a common problem in San Mateo’s criminal scene.

It’s clear from examining San Mateo’s crime statistics that property crimes—such as burglary, larceny, auto theft, and arson—make a substantial contribution to the city’s total crime rate. Residents in San Mateo run a significant danger from property crimes; there is a 1 in 43 possibility of becoming a victim of one. Particularly motor vehicle theft is among the highest in the country; there is a one in 291 probability of having a car stolen in the city.

Though less common than property crimes, violent crimes nevertheless happen more frequently than in most American cities of all sizes. In San Mateo, there is a 1 in 331, or 3 per thousand, chance of being the victim of a violent crime, including armed robbery, aggravated assault, rape, or murder.

What Has Been the San Mateo Crime Rate During the Last Ten Years?

In San Mateo, the crime rate has changed dramatically within the last ten years. Recent statistics shows that, out of the 15 largest counties in California, San Mateo saw the most increase in violent crime—37.5%. This worrying tendency of increasing violent crime rates has added to the city’s reputation as the most dangerous in the state.

San Mateo property crime has fluctuated over time as well. The property crime rate climbed by 8.7% from 2020 and 5.9% from the year before, to levels somewhat higher than those recorded in 2019. Rising rates of auto theft and larceny (forceful theft) point to a larger pattern of rising property crimes in the city.

The statistics also shows that San Mateo has been seeing an increase in aggravated assaults, which account for a sizable percentage of reported violent crimes. A worrying trend in violent crimes was shown by the 39% increase in aggravated assault rates between 2014 and 2022. Accompanying the rise in aggravated assaults and overall crime rates in the city may have been factors like fewer police officers and growing social and economic issues, such homelessness.


The unexpected elevation of San Mateo to the top of the Californian list of most dangerous cities highlights how changing crime patterns are inside communities. It takes knowledge of the fundamental causes of this shift to carry out focused initiatives that will solve safety issues and guarantee the welfare of the community. Proactive steps must be made to preserve safe settings for all people as cities change and encounter new issues.

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