This City Has Been Named as the Crime Capital City Of Rhode Islannd

According to the latest FBI data, Rhode Island, despite its small size, is facing significant crime issues. The city of Woonsocket, once a thriving manufacturing hub now grappling with economic hardship, emerges as the most perilous city in the state. It has the highest rate of violent crimes and the second-highest rate of property crimes in Rhode Island, making it a risky place to reside or visit.

What makes Woonsocket so dangerous?

Woonsocket, located in the northern region of Rhode Island near the Massachusetts border, was once a bustling hub for textile and rubber industries. Unfortunately, the city’s fate took a turn for the worse in the latter part of the 20th century as factories began to close, and employment opportunities dwindled. Today, with a population of around 43,000 inhabitants, Woonsocket is no longer the prosperous city it once was. Many of its residents face daily struggles with poverty, unemployment, and addiction.

In Woonsocket, a combination of economic and societal challenges has led to a surge in crime rates. Shockingly, the city reported 231 violent crimes in 2023 alone, including 4 homicides, 24 sexual assaults, 67 robberies, and 136 aggravated assaults. As a result, the per-capita rate of violent crimes is a staggering 536 per 100,000 inhabitants – more than double the national average and the highest in all of Rhode Island.

In Woonsocket, property crimes like burglary, theft, and arson are prevalent. Shockingly, in 2023, a staggering 1,508 property crimes were recorded in the city, including 306 burglaries, 1,104 larcenies, and 98 motor vehicle thefts. Unfortunately, this means that the residents of Woonsocket have a 1 in 28 chance of becoming a victim of property crime, which is the second highest rate in Rhode Island.

How does Woonsocket compare to other cities in Rhode Island?

Many cities in Rhode Island, including Woonsocket, are currently facing high crime rates. Other cities like Pawtucket, Providence, Newport, and Central Falls are also among the state’s most dangerous cities. These cities have experienced economic decline and social turmoil, leading to the urban environments that exist today.

Out of all the cities in Rhode Island, Woonsocket is notorious for having the highest rate of both violent and property crimes. Although Pawtucket has a slightly higher likelihood of property crimes (1 in 26 odds) compared to Woonsocket, its rate of violent crimes is lower (223 per 100,000 people).

With a violent crime rate of 534 per 100,000 people, Providence, which is the largest city and capital of the state, bears similarities to Woonsocket. However, it manages to maintain a lower property crime rate, with odds of 1 in 33. On the other hand, Newport and Central Falls report lower rates of both violent and property crimes when compared to Woonsocket.

In contrast to Woonsocket, there are numerous cities in Rhode Island that provide a much safer atmosphere. Narragansett, a picturesque coastal town famous for its beaches and tourism, stands out as the safest city in the state. With a violent crime rate of just 35 per 100,000 people and a 1 in 101 likelihood of experiencing a property crime, Narragansett is a great option for those seeking a secure community. Other cities renowned for their safety include East Greenwich, Barrington, North Kingstown, and South Kingstown.

What can be done to improve Woonsocket’s safety?

For decades, Woonsocket has struggled with a high crime rate, consistently ranking among the most dangerous cities in Rhode Island. Despite this ongoing issue, there are positive developments and initiatives aimed at improving the city’s future outlook.

In 2019, the US Attorney’s Office for Rhode Island launched the Safe Neighborhoods Initiative (SNI) – an initiative that aims to address the underlying causes of crime and violence in high-risk areas like Woonsocket. The SNI is a joint effort that involves federal, state, local, and community partners working collaboratively.

The SNI has its focus on four crucial pillars to combat crime and its effects: prevention, intervention, enforcement, and reentry. These pillars include various programs and activities such as mentoring, after-school programs for at-risk youth, substance abuse treatment, and recovery services, along with enhanced community policing and prosecution of violent offenders and drug traffickers. The SNI also offers support for ex-offenders’ reentry into society and their employment prospects.

In 2020, Governor Gina Raimondo launched the Main Street Initiative (MSI) as a means to revitalize Woonsocket’s economy and culture. This grant program provides funding and technical support to municipalities seeking to transform their downtown areas into bustling hubs of commerce and creativity. The MSI is a promising initiative that holds the potential to breathe new life into Woonsocket’s downtown area.

MSI’s projects have a clear goal of improving public spaces, attracting new businesses, creating employment opportunities, and encouraging community participation. These initiatives cover a wide range of efforts, including street improvements, restoration of historic buildings, the creation of cultural arts districts, and the promotion of local events and festivals.


To sum up, Woonsocket is facing some major challenges but it also has a lot of potential. Being the most dangerous city in Rhode Island, it is plagued with high rates of violent and property crimes. Nonetheless, there are efforts underway to tackle the root causes of crime and violence, through initiatives such as SNI and MSI. These programs are aimed at creating a safer and more thriving city for everyone.

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MBS Staff
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