The Rhode Island crime rate is one of the lowest in the country, as 40 other states have a higher occurrence of crimes, according to FBI data. Holding one of the nation’s lowest crime rates doesn’t mean that crime in Rhode Island is non-existent, however.

Could your Rhode Island property still be vulnerable to theft and burglary? Should you invest in a home security system to thwart would-be burglars?

Let’s uncover some of the most common crimes law enforcement responds to, how the crime rate evolves, and ways that the state is making itself safer.  

Evaluating Rhode Island’s Crime Rate Over the Years

Rhode Island may be the smallest state in the country, but it is all over the map when it comes to crime data. 24/7 Wall St. reports that Rhode Island is one of the few states to make the top 10 list for both the highest crime rate and lowest crime rate, according to data as far back as 1960. Today, its crime rate is on the lower end. 

It’s important to note that during a period when Rhode Island’s crime rate was among the highest in the nation, the overall crime rate across the country was also much higher. As new policies are put in place to strengthen the law and judicial system, crime rates will go on a downward trajectory. 

How the Rhode Island Crime Rate Compares to National Crime Rates

According to official crime reports, Rhode Island falls below the national average in both violent crime and property crime. Residents see half the amount of violent crime in the state compared to throughout the U.S., with 2.0 incidents for every 1,000 people. The property crime rate in Rhode Island is 12.5 incidents per 1,000 people, which is far below the national average of 19.3 incidents. 

One interesting pattern that SafeWise data finds is that despite a decline in Rhode Island’s crime rate, fewer residents report feeling safe. A survey among residents shows that only 42% of respondents say they feel safe in their state, which is lower than the national response and marks a 22% decrease from previous survey data. 

Factors Influencing the Rhode Island Crime Rate

One factor that may contribute to Rhode Island’s low crime rate is the sheer number of residents who take personal precautions. A SafeWise survey that showcases the safety concerns of local residents finds that 72% of respondents are proactive about protecting their property. This figure is only slightly below the national average of 76%.

The state’s Department of Corrections does its part to reduce the crime rate by offering rehabilitative services to offenders. Correctional institutions provide a number of services to criminals during their incarceration period in hopes that they will not be repeat offenders. These programs include:

  • Substance abuse counseling
  • Mental health improvement plans
  • Sexual offender treatment
  • Counseling for incarcerated youth

Initiatives like these that focus on educating community members, strengthening law enforcement’s resources, and transforming offenders through service programs can help lower the Rhode Island crime rate even more. 

Local police departments also deploy their own programs to keep residents safe and prevent crime. The North Providence Police Department offers a program called Crime Prevention Through Environment Design, which helps residents, business owners, schools, and more protect their property with careful measures that make the property less desirable for criminals to infiltrate. 

Assessing Property and Violent Crime Rates in Rhode Island

What types of crimes do Rhode Island police officers respond to the most? Get a closer look at the state’s property and violent crime rates, as well as which offenses are the most prevalent. 

Violent Crime

In Rhode Island, a violent crime occurs at half the rate of the national average. However, its violent crime rate ranks second-highest among New England states. The types of crimes that law enforcement responds to are also slightly different from other states and the country as a whole. 

Rhode Island violent crime data finds that murder, robbery, and assault are not as prevalent. Rape is the state’s most common violent crime and makes up 21% of all reports of a violent nature. This figure is even higher in the 10 safest cities, where rape accounts for 32% of all violent crimes. 

In the past 10 years, Rhode Island’s rape rate was above the national average, according to the FBI’s Crime Data Explorer. Homicide, aggravated assault, and robbery rates in Rhode Island are all well below the national average. 

Property Crime

While it’s true that crime in Rhode Island is less of an issue compared to other states, the Ocean State actually exceeds the national reporting average when it comes to the percentage of property crimes that occur in a given year. Approximately 85% of the crimes committed nationwide in 2019 fell under the property crime category, including larceny, burglary, and motor vehicle theft. That same year, 87% of the incidents reported in Rhode Island involved some sort of property crime. 

FBI crime data shows that the burglary and motor vehicle theft rates in Rhode Island are at 166.8 and 142.7 incidents per 100,000 people, respectively. Larceny is more prevalent, with 935.9 incidents for every 100,000 people. 

Data from 24/7 Wall St. finds that the capital city of Providence experiences the highest amount of crime, with 3,507 incidents per 100,000 residents, many of which fall under the property crime umbrella. 

Rhode Island’s 10 Safest Cities of 2023

Take a look at the 10 safest cities in Rhode Island and their property crime rate per 1,000 people, according to SafeWise:

  1. Bristol
  2. South Kingstown
  3. North Kingstown
  4. Cumberland
  5. Smithfield
  6. Westerly
  7. North Providence
  8. Coventry
  9. East Providence
  10. Warwick

Each of these cities falls below the state’s property crime rate, and all but two cities have a violent crime rate of less than one incident for every 1,000 people. Most of these cities have a population between 20,000 and 40,000 people, except for Warwick, which has over 83,000 residents. Socioeconomic factors may contribute to the low Rhode Island crime rate since each of the 10 safest cities has a median household income above $65,000.