Montana is known as one of the most natural and visually stunning places to live and is often described as peaceful due to its picturesque mountain ranges, lakes, and parks. However, it is still located on planet earth, so aside from the obvious dangers that exist in some areas of the state from wildlife like grizzly bears, Montana also has its share of crime.
It might be hard to believe when looking at some of the picturesque outdoor scenery that makes the place look like a haven for both wildlife and humankind alike.
But Montana is not without criminals, and this applies to both theft and violent crime. The most dangerous places in Montana, not unsurprisingly, are more in the built-up and city areas.
We will take a closer look at Montana crime rates, and what you can expect in certain areas under Big Sky Country
Montana Crime Rates In 2022
Crime Rate in Montana experienced a sharp rise in 2022, with the violent crime rate increasing from 4.2 per 1,000 people to 4.7. However, the property crime rate saw a slight decline from 22.4 per 1,000 to 21.2. This is still higher than the national average of 19.6.
Statistics vary in their reports in terms of overall crime rates as well as of both violent crimes and property crimes. Some states may have higher instances of one and be almost devoid of the other, while some have equal measures of both.
So let’s take a deeper delve into our list of the most dangerous places in Montana before you make any vacation or retirement decisions.
The Most ‘Dangerous’ Places in Montana
Montana doesn’t make the list of the top ten most dangerous states in the U.S., making it far safer than the top three states of Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama. Still, it is good to get an idea of what to expect when travelling and be aware of what cities and areas in Montana are more at risk of crime than others.
Helena is the state capital and thus has many upsides like above-average housing and schooling. But guess what – big cities often attract even bigger crime.
With a population of over 30,000, Helena has something of a reputation for rape — by far the highest rate in the state of Big Sky.
Unfortunately, property crimes and violent crimes are also comparably high in respective order. The city has thus ranked second and fourth for the latter two at various points.
2. Wolf Point
Wolf Point is one of Montana’s lesser-known towns, aside from the fact that it plays host to the oldest rodeo in the state. The majority of visitors to the town come for the rodeo, but there is an unfortunate downside to this.
Visitors and travelers are often unaware that the town has one of the highest violent crime rates in the entire state, and even worse, much of this is often directed towards strangers.
When you consider that the population, which is mainly centered in the Fort Peck Indian Reservation, is less than 3,000-strong, it is a little worrying to find 26 violent crimes occurring in a year. It may not sound that high but statistically, it is around 900 per 1000 people per capita.
The good news is that property crime rates are significantly lower, with Wolf Point registering only the 13th highest in the state for property-related issues that have also dwindled somewhat in the last decade.
Polson is located in Montana’s Northwest in the Flathead Indian Reservation. Some rankings actually place this reasonably small town as the most dangerous in the state due to the high crime rate, though in various other listings it is around 3 or 4.
Statistically, it seems that property crime is the main issue here, with violent crimes often being related to theft. Recent FBI data has in fact indicated that Polson has the most property crime per capita of any city in the state.
The place does have something of a history of high unemployment rates that may be a contributing factor.
The small northwest Montana town of Ronan comprises part of the Flathead Indian reservation region in Lake County and has a population of just over 2,000.
The bad news about Ronan is that it has been rated as the sixth most dangerous place to live in Montana. On a per-capita basis, it is considered one of the most violent spots in the state, coming in somewhere between first and third highest on that one. Assault is one of the main issues with violent crime in the area.
It doesn’t look too much better in terms of property crime either when considering that the Ronan residents suffered 50 property crimes in one year. This is enough to incur a ranking of the 11th highest in Montana.
Missoula is one of the state’s biggest cities being home to a population of more than 75,000, making it the second most populated region of Montana. And with those numbers come various downsides. The high rates of property crime are often cited as one of the main reasons the area is listed as an undesirable place for living.
Even worse though, Missoula has held the unfortunate distinction of being one of the murder capitals of Montana in the past and has ranked overall as the 8th most dangerous place in Montana in various listings.
The city obviously has lots of positive features as well like above-average schools and amenities, but the population is spread out over a massive area. This could be one of the underlying factors in Missoula’s statistics for violence, property crimes, and also rapes.
Both violence and property-related crimes have been on the increase steadily over the last decade or so, with no obvious signs of letting up in the near future.
Hamilton is a Montana city in the far western part of the state which attracts a good deal of tourism. Unfortunately, it is not without its fair share of violence-related crime. There are also reportedly high numbers of rape and property crime issues among the population of less than 5,000.
Hamilton is a beautiful city, and although it has been listed as having some of the third-highest crime rates in the entire state, apparently this has been on the downslide for a while according to recent trends.
7. Cut Bank
Cut Bank is another small northwestern Montana town, with a population of not much more than 3,000. Unfortunately, it could be a case of familiarity breeds contempt, as it has ranked between 1 and 8 as one of the most dangerous places in Montana in various listings.
The good news is that the town has seen significant drops in crime rates over the last decade or so, but it still ranks fairly high by comparison. The main issue here tends to be violent crime, with property-related misdemeanors being a bit less prominent.
The town has suffered from high rates of unemployment over the years, despite its reputation as being a western adventure zone with plenty of opportunities for outdoor pursuits.
As the largest and most populated city in Montana, it is no real surprise that Billings has its fair share of crime. The city has previously ranked 2nd for property crime, which has apparently been increasing steadily in the last 5 years or so. Thankfully violent crime features a bit further down the list with Billings being rated 10th for that particular misdemeanor, although it too is steadily on the increase in the area.
Havre has been ranked 4th and 5th in various listings for violent crime rates in Montana, and has something like a total crime rate of 680 per 100,000 residents. The people who live in the city generally believe the northwest region of the city to be about the safest, while in other areas there is around a 5% chance of being a theft or arson victim. Residents tend to not live near recreational areas as crime rates are higher around them when people visit.
The good news is that Havre is currently ranked number 6 for violent crime, indicating that there has been a large drop in rates over the last decade or so.
10. Great Falls
Great Falls has figured in the development of Montana in terms of industry and transportation in the past, and now boasts one of the highest populations at almost 60,000. The downside of this is one of the highest rates of property crime in the whole of Montana.
This means that more than 3,000 property crimes are reported annually, and to top it all Great Falls actually takes the top spot when it comes to the highest rate of overall crime in Montana. The upside is that this city hasn’t ranked above sixth when it comes to instances of violent crime.