This Town in Pennsylvania State Takes the Crown for Most Violent

Pennsylvania ranks as the 11th safest state in the U.S., yet it harbors some of the nation’s most perilous cities. Despite Philadelphia’s prominence, it’s not the most violent. Surprisingly, many of Pennsylvania’s most dangerous cities are small and inconspicuous.

According to FBI data, the top contender for violence in Pennsylvania is Darby, a town of approximately 10,667 residents in Delaware County. With a crime index of 4, it’s deemed safer than just 4% of other American cities. In Darby, inhabitants face a 1 in 70 chance of encountering a violent crime like assault, rape, robbery, or murder. This high rate is intertwined with the town’s significant poverty level, standing at 28.2%.

What Makes Darby So Dangerous?

Darby, a once-thriving industrial town, has faced ongoing challenges for years. Since the Great Depression, its economic decline has persisted, resulting in widespread issues like unemployment, poverty, substance abuse, gang activity, and corruption. The town’s infrastructure and buildings have deteriorated due to neglect, further exacerbating its struggles. Moreover, Darby lacks essential resources and services, including law enforcement, education, healthcare, and recreational facilities.

The town’s crime rate has been a persistent concern. In 2015, Darby ranked as the second most dangerous city in Pennsylvania, following Chester. By 2018, it was listed among the 100 most dangerous cities in the United States. In 2020, Darby recorded 152 violent crimes, including three homicides, 15 rapes, 46 robberies, and 88 assaults. Additionally, there were 328 property crimes reported, including burglaries, thefts, and vehicle thefts.

What Is Being Done to Improve Darby’s Safety?

Despite the challenges, Darby remains optimistic. Efforts are underway to enhance safety and enhance the town’s quality of life. In 2019, Darby secured a $1 million state grant to rejuvenate its downtown area, attracting new businesses and residents. Collaborating with the Delaware County District Attorney’s Office, Darby initiated Operation Safe Streets, a crime prevention program aimed at curbing violence and drug trafficking.

Moreover, community organizations like the Darby Borough Community Development Corporation (DBCDC) are actively contributing to Darby’s welfare. DBCDC, a nonprofit, offers various services including youth mentoring, senior care, food assistance, and housing support. Additionally, it arranges events fostering civic engagement and social cohesion within the town.


Darby faces numerous challenges and risks, yet it also holds potential and opportunities. It’s recognized as Pennsylvania’s most violent city, though it’s not alone in this struggle. Several cities across the state share similarly high crime rates, demanding attention and assistance. By tackling underlying issues like poverty, unemployment, education, and healthcare, Darby and other Pennsylvania cities can transform into safer, more thriving communities.

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