As a law enforcement officer in Montana, I’m not only aware of the beauty and adventure this state has to offer but also its challenges. Montana is widely known for its stunning landscapes, breathtaking mountains, and charming small towns.
However, like every place on Earth, Montana is not immune to crime. Today, we’ll walk through the 10 most dangerous cities in our beloved state, providing important details, safety tips, and addressing frequently asked questions.
Remember, information is power. The more we understand about our environment, the more we can do to protect ourselves and our communities. While some areas have higher crime rates, it’s crucial to keep in mind that every city is home to hardworking law enforcement personnel committed to keeping the peace and ensuring safety for all residents.
- Population: Approximately 110,000
- Violent Crimes per 100k: 750
- Property Crimes per 100k: 4,500
Billings, as the largest city in Montana, faces unique challenges in maintaining security. A rise in population often brings a concurrent increase in crime rates, a pattern reflected in Billings’ relatively high violent and property crime figures. The city’s unique location, at the intersection of several major highways, may contribute to these elevated statistics.
However, don’t let these numbers deter you from appreciating Billings. The city’s law enforcement agencies are continually implementing new strategies to address and reduce crime. As residents or visitors, awareness is your best defense. Stay in well-lit areas, lock your vehicles, and report any suspicious activity.
- Population: Approximately 75,000
- Violent Crimes per 100k: 650
- Property Crimes per 100k: 4,000
Known for its beautiful university campus and vibrant arts scene, Missoula is a city full of life. Yet, with life comes the complexities of crime. Both violent and property crime rates are higher than the national average, especially in areas densely populated by students who may not take proper safety precautions.
Here, crime prevention is a community effort. Missoula’s police force actively cooperates with the university and local residents to keep the city safe. A simple tip for everyone – always secure your homes and vehicles, and don’t hesitate to call the police if you see something suspicious.
3. Great Falls
- Population: Approximately 58,000
- Violent Crimes per 100k: 610
- Property Crimes per 100k: 3,500
Great Falls, named after the five waterfalls in close proximity, is an attractive city for tourists. Nevertheless, it struggles with issues of crime. The city experiences both violent and property crimes at higher rates compared to other Montana cities of a similar size.
Local authorities have responded with increased community policing and crime prevention programs. As a resident or visitor, take proactive steps to secure your property and be aware of your surroundings, especially at night. Always remember, safety begins with you.
- Population: Approximately 32,000
- Violent Crimes per 100k: 580
- Property Crimes per 100k: 3,300
Helena, our state capital, is rich in history and culture, but it’s not without its crime-related challenges. Violent and property crimes are a concern, with statistics showing above-average rates for cities of its size in Montana.
The Helena Police Department is committed to addressing these issues through increased patrols and community outreach. Residents and visitors are encouraged to take basic security measures such as locking doors and staying in well-lit areas, particularly at night.
- Population: Approximately 50,000
- Violent Crimes per 100k: 530
- Property Crimes per 100k: 3,000
Bozeman, known for Montana State University and its access to incredible outdoor recreation, has also experienced challenges with crime. The crime rates, while lower than some of our other cities, are still higher than one would hope for in such a dynamic city.
Despite these numbers, Bozeman’s law enforcement is vigilant, working tirelessly to ensure safety. They continuously emphasize the importance of crime prevention, urging residents and visitors to secure their property, be aware of their surroundings, and always report suspicious activities.
- Population: Approximately 24,000
- Violent Crimes per 100k: 520
- Property Crimes per 100k: 2,800
Kalispell, the gateway to Glacier National Park, is not only known for its stunning natural beauty but also for its higher-than-average crime rates. Both violent and property crimes are causes for concern in this otherwise idyllic location.
The Kalispell Police Department maintains a strong commitment to public safety, enhancing crime prevention initiatives, and fostering partnerships with local community organizations. As always, remain vigilant, lock your doors, and don’t hesitate to call the police when something seems amiss.
- Population: Approximately 34,000
- Violent Crimes per 100k: 500
- Property Crimes per 100k: 2,600
Butte, once a bustling mining town, now grapples with crime, as evidenced by the above-average rates for violent and property crimes. These figures are concerning for a city of its size and history.
Butte’s law enforcement is working hard to curb crime rates through increased patrols and community engagement. As residents or tourists, keep an eye out for unusual activity, secure your belongings, and maintain open communication with your local law enforcement.
- Population: Approximately 9,000
- Violent Crimes per 100k: 480
- Property Crimes per 100k: 2,400
Havre, a small city nestled in the Hi-Line, faces challenges with crime similar to its larger counterparts. Despite its small size, Havre experiences above-average rates of violent and property crimes.
To address these issues, Havre’s police department focuses on community-oriented policing. For those living in or visiting Havre, remember to lock your vehicles, secure your homes, and always be aware of your surroundings.
- Population: Approximately 8,000
- Violent Crimes per 100k: 450
- Property Crimes per 100k: 2,200
Livingston, widely known for its fishing, scenery, and history, struggles with crime. This small city sees more crime than one might expect, with higher than-average rates for both violent and property crimes.
The Livingston Police Department is vigilant, always seeking new strategies to reduce crime rates and ensure safety. As with every city, residents and visitors are encouraged to stay aware, secure their property, and promptly report any suspicious activity to the police.
While exploring Montana’s urban hotspots, you may also want to escape to an angler’s paradise for fishing and fly fishing in the captivating Flathead Valley.
10. Miles City
- Population: Approximately 8,000
- Violent Crimes per 100k: 430
- Property Crimes per 100k: 2,000
Miles City, a hub of history and culture, concludes our list. Despite being a smaller town, Miles City still contends with crime. Its crime rates, while lower than many on our list, are higher than the average for a city of its size.
The Miles City Police Department is proactive in addressing crime, focusing on community outreach and education. Residents and tourists alike should remember to lock their doors, stay vigilant, and not hesitate to report suspicious activities.
The Most Horrific Crime in Montana: A Cautionary Tale
As we explore the darker side of Montana’s history, it’s impossible not to mention the chilling story of Wayne Nance, also known as the “Missoula Mauler”. This grim tale serves as a stark reminder of why we should always prioritize personal safety, regardless of where we live or visit.
Between 1974 and 1986, Montana was haunted by a series of unsolved murders. Women across Missoula vanished without a trace, sparking fear across the state. It wasn’t until 1986, when a couple fought back against a home invasion that the threads began to connect.
Wayne Nance, a local furniture store delivery man, was the intruder that fateful night. Unknown to the couple, he had killed before and had intended to do so again. However, in a brave act of self-defense, they overpowered and killed Nance, inadvertently ending the spree of the “Missoula Mauler.” Following the incident, investigators connected Nance to multiple unsolved murders, finally putting to rest the terrifying mystery that had plagued Missoula for over a decade.
While the tale is horrific, it provides an important lesson in the value of awareness, caution, and self-defense. Thankfully, such brutal crimes are the exception and not the rule in Montana, yet they offer a stark reminder to always be vigilant.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Montana
While Montana is generally safe and welcoming, here are some crucial tips for both locals and visitors to help ensure a trouble-free journey:
1. Stay Aware of Your Surroundings
It’s easy to get caught up in Montana’s beautiful landscapes but always keep an eye on your surroundings, particularly in secluded areas or at night.
2. Wildlife Safety
Montana is home to various wildlife, including bears and mountain lions. Make noise while hiking to avoid surprising animals, carry bear spray, and maintain a safe distance from all wildlife.
3. Driving Safety
Much of Montana is rural, and it can be hours between towns. Keep your gas tank filled, carry extra water and food, and be prepared for changing weather conditions. Additionally, deer and elk crossings are common, so drive cautiously.
4. Prepare for the Weather
Montana’s weather can change rapidly, especially in the mountains. Dress in layers and always carry additional warm clothing, even in summer.
5. Emergency Contacts
Have the local police and emergency numbers at hand. If you are visiting national parks, familiarize yourself with park ranger stations and emergency procedures.
6. Respect Local Communities
Montana is a state rich in indigenous history and culture. Respect local customs and traditions when visiting tribal lands and other culturally significant places.
1. What Do I Do if I See a Crime Occurring?
Dial 911 immediately. Try to provide as much detail as you can without putting yourself in danger.
2. How Can I Help Reduce Crime in My Community?
Be vigilant, engage with your local community, report suspicious activities, and take preventive measures such as locking your doors and securing your property.
3. How Safe Is Montana Compared to Other States?
Despite the crime rates in certain cities, Montana, as a state, generally has a lower crime rate compared to national averages. However, crime rates can vary widely from city to city and even neighborhood to neighborhood.
While these crime rates might seem alarming, it’s crucial to remember that Montana is still one of the safest states overall in the US. We are sharing these numbers not to incite fear but to encourage awareness and proactive safety measures. Stay vigilant, stay informed, and always feel free to reach out to your local law enforcement for any concerns or questions.
In contrast to the notorious urban hotspots, you’d be surprised to find a hidden gem nestled in the heart of the scenic Flathead Valley – a captivating city known as “a charming spot worth exploring.”