The Hidden Truth About Rural Crime Rates

by | Mar 1, 2024

The Hidden Truth About Rural Crime Rates

Meet Sarah.

She knew exactly why she and her husband craved the serenity of the open fields and quiet country roads. Like many of us, Sarah held an ingrained, almost romantic image of rural life—one far removed from the crime and social issues faced by city dwellers. Yet, on returning to her cozy farmhouse one afternoon, she found it wasn’t the peaceful refuge they thought. Broken glass littered the kitchen floor, drawers were flung open, and their valuables had vanished. Sarah and her husband’s illusion of security was shattered.

Sound familiar?

Sarah’s unfortunate experience isn’t as isolated as many might think. While cities remain heavily associated with crime in the public imagination, the data shows that rural communities might not be as peaceful as we presume.

Beneath the idyllic facade, a different narrative unfolds—one of stolen livestock and machinery, vandalized property, and the unsettling feeling of vulnerability that comes with living far from the urban bustle.

Contrary to popular belief, rural areas aren’t always the safe havens they’re presumed to be. Indeed, when it comes to crime rates, the dichotomy between rural and urban landscapes becomes less clear-cut than one might imagine. Rural crime is a very real problem.

Rural vs. Urban Crime Rates: Unraveling the Discrepancies

To grasp the true extent of rural crime, we must first understand how it compares to its urban counterpart. Traditionally, urban areas have been synonymous with higher crime rates, fueled by population density and socioeconomic factors. However, recent data challenges this belief, revealing a more nuanced picture of crime distribution across different landscapes.

A recent U.S. Department of Justice study found that those quiet country roads don’t always mean lower crime. In fact, some rural areas have even higher crime rates than cities! While the types of crimes may differ—urban areas typically grapple with higher rates of violent offenses, whereas rural regions contend with property crimes—crime can happen anywhere. Think about it: fewer police officers stretched over miles of land and isolated homes can make easier targets for would-be criminals.

Moreover, the perception of rural areas as “safe havens” may inadvertently discourage residents from implementing adequate security measures, leaving them vulnerable. Here are just a few reasons why rural crime is often misjudged:

  • Low population density: The population distribution in rural areas can spread law enforcement thin, leading to delayed response times or even undetected criminal activity. This makes official reporting inaccurate, and crimes seem less frequent than they are. Low populations also skew per capita crime rates easily.
  • Social Dynamics: Some rural communities prioritize maintaining an image of safety while preferring to deal with issues amongst themselves. That sometimes leads residents to not report crimes to authorities, artificially obscuring crime rates.
  • Types of Crime: Rural crimes are often property theft, not the violent assaults often associated with cities. News outlets don’t cover a stolen tractor the same way, painting a distorted image.

Rural vs. Urban Crime: Is the Grass Really Greener?

Rates of specific crimes vary between rural and urban settings. It’s worth noting that while some categories may be comparable, others diverge starkly.

  • Property Crime: Rural areas often surpass their urban counterparts when it comes to property crime, primarily burglary and theft. According to data from the FBI, the burglary rates in “extra-small cities” like El Dorado, KS (28.3 per 1,000 residents), Alexandria, LA (22.5), and Malvern, AR (17.5) are typically higher than large cities like Seattle, WA (12.6 per 1,000 residents), Oklahoma City, OK (9.5), and Memphis, TN (8.2).
  • Violent Crime: Although violent crime tends to be lower in rural settings, some disturbing patterns stand out. Isolated residences, for example, might be easier targets for home invasions. Gun deaths by suicide rates for rural men and women are also higher than for urban men and women.
  • Substance Abuse: The ongoing opioid epidemic highlights the fact that rural communities have often been hit harder than their urban counterparts. The scarcity of mental health resources, as well as economic hardship in some rural areas, contribute to high substance abuse rates and related crimes.

However, according to the annual National Crime Victimization Survey conducted by the US Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, the rates have been increasing across the board.

  Total Violent Crime Total Property Crime
  2020 2021 2022 2020 2021 2022
Urban 19 24.5 33.4 158.9 157.5 176.1
Suburban 16.8 16.5 23.9 90.5 86.8 98.9
Rural 13.4 11.1 15.4 65.6 57.7 61.7

These rates are per 1,000 residents 12 and older. Crime, it would seem, has no zip code.

Specific Challenges and Vulnerabilities of Farming Communities

Aside from typical residential threats, farmers and agricultural producers face a heightened set of concerns.

  • Equipment Theft: The machinery farmers rely on is crucial to their livelihood and incredibly costly. Thieves frequently target them for these expensive commodities.
  • Livestock Crimes: Cattle rustling might seem more appropriate for the Old West, but livestock theft persists. Aside from the monetary loss, animal theft can be emotionally traumatizing for farmers.
  • Crop Sabotage and Chemical Theft: From crop vandalism to the theft of fertilizer and pesticides, such crimes negatively impact farmers’ crops and finances. Moreover, the illegal use of stolen chemicals can be environmentally detrimental.

Just under 81% of surveyed farmers have been the victim of at least one type of farm crime, while 76.8% have been victims two or more times. And 23.3% have been targeted seven or more times. For farmers and ranchers whose livelihoods depend on the integrity of their land and livestock, investing in comprehensive security measures isn’t just a choice—it’s a necessity.

One of the most effective tools in the rural crime-fighting arsenal is the widespread adoption of farm security cameras and live security monitoring. These sophisticated solutions serve as vigilant guardians, watching vast swathes of land and providing real-time insights into suspicious activities. From deterring trespassers to aiding law enforcement in criminal investigations, the benefits of live farm surveillance are many.

Combatting the Growing Trend: The Rise of Agricultural Security Measures

For better protection, people in rural areas are seeking out agricultural security technology for crime prevention.

  • Farm Security Cameras: High-tech security cameras and video monitoring systems actively guard assets at farms, ranches, and other agricultural properties. Such installations often connect to smartphones for remote vigilance while acting as a visual deterrent for nosy intruders.
  • GPS Tracking: Attaching GPS tracking units to valuable machinery provides valuable information should a theft occur, improving your chances of recovery.

Today’s security technology isn’t just for banks and other traditionally “high-risk” environments. There are affordable, high-tech options designed specifically for your farm. Imagine a hardwired PoE camera system you check from your phone, motion sensors that text you when there’s movement near the barn, everything stored securely online… no complicated setup needed. These tools give you the peace of mind that farm living is supposed to bring.

We need to get smart about rural crime. By busting those outdated ideas and using what’s available, we make these communities safer. Whether it’s cameras or even just your neighbor keeping a closer eye out, every little bit helps protect the country way of life.

Need a Solution that Prevents Crime? Deep Sentinel is the only security technology that delivers the experience of a personal guard on every customer’s home and business. Visit or call 833-983-6006

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