How Safe is Hawaii Based on Crime Rates

Now that we live on the Big Island I started to wonder just how safe it is compared to the U.S. or the other Hawaiian islands. I know, I know it is a bit late to be doing this research but I guess it is good to know either way. There is a lot to consider when it comes to determining if somewhere is considered “safe” but for this particular post I am going to focus on crime.

In general, Hawaii’s crime rate is a bit higher than U.S. crime rate at 3,628 crimes per 100,000 people compared to the U.S. average of 3,210 as of 2017. But, when you look at violent crimes Hawaii is very safe with 35.6% less violent crimes than the U.S. average. Determining which Hawaiian island was safest was a bit more challenging.

Hawaii is Average but Which Island is the Safest?

Safe Hawaii Crime Rates US Hawaii Big Island

The first thing I looked at in evaluating how safe Hawaii is was to turn to overall crime rates provided by the FBI through local law enforcement agencies.

What I found is that Hawaii was actually higher in overall crime compared to the United States average. The State of Hawaii had 3,628 crimes per 100,000 people in population compared to the United States average of 3,210.

Basically this means that the crime rate in Hawaii is about 13% higher than the national average.

Which Hawaiian Island is the Safest?

This led me to wonder which of the Hawaiian islands was the safest so I looked at the overall crime rate again and found that it depends on how you look at it.

As of 2017 here are the crime rates for the four major Hawaiian islands:**

  1. Kauai: 2,762
  2. Big Island: 2,955
  3. Oahu: 3,020
  4. Maui: 3,723

But, that is just one year. What about the 10-year average or the trend?

Here are the crime rates between 2008 and 2017 for the four major Hawaiian islands:

  1. Big Island: 3,191
  2. Oahu: 3,443
  3. Kauai: 3,596
  4. Maui: 4,021

The other thing I thought would be interesting to know is whether or not crime rates are decreasing or increasing. So, I ran the numbers and found out that all the islands are seeing reduced crime over the past 10 years.

Crime rates in Hawaii are decreasing over the last 10 years at the following rates:**

  1. Kauai: down 3.70%
  2. Oahu: down 2.05%
  3. Maui: down 1.60%
  4. Big Island: down 1.25%

Safe Hawaii Crime Rates Hawaii Kauai Oahu Maui Big Island

There are a few different ways to look at this and decide which island is safest but it is safe to say (pun intended) that either the Big Island or Kauai are the safest of the Hawaiian islands.

Property Related Crime in Hawaii

Honolulu Hawaii Police Cars
photo credit: Two Honolulu police cars by Nesnad on Wikimedia

There are two major types of crimes reported on: property and violent. First, I will take a look at property related crimes to see how safe Hawaii is compared to the rest of the U.S.

Property related crimes include crimes such as:

  • burglary
  • larceny-theft
  • motor vehicle theft

Hawaii is clearly higher in property related crimes than the United States average. The State of Hawaii has 3,369 crimes for every 100,000 people while the U.S. average is just 2,807. That is a property crime rate 20% higher than the national average!

Which Hawaiian Island has the Lowest Property Crime Rates?

Kauai had the lowest property crime rate as of 2017 with 2,509.

Here are the 2017 property crime rates for each island:

  1. Kauai: 2,509
  2. Big Island: 2,700
  3. Oahu: 2,774
  4. Maui: 3,454

If we look at the 10-year property crime average the Big Island comes in as the safest of the islands again:

  1. Big Island: 2,942
  2. Oahu: 3,193
  3. Kauai: 3,311
  4. Maui: 3,762

Comparing trends for property related crime all islands are seeing crime go down with Kauai seeing the largest average drop:

  1. Kauai: down 3.82%
  2. Oahu: down 2.10%
  3. Maui: down 1.84%
  4. Big Island: down 1.36%

Violent Crimes In Hawaii Show How Safe it Is

Hawaii Crime Arrest

If I had just one of the three data points (total crime, property crime or violent crime) to look at when deciding on the safest place to live I would choose violent crimes.

Violent crimes include crimes such as:

  • murder
  • rape
  • robbery
  • aggravated assault

Hawaii is much safer than the U.S., on average, when it comes to violent crimes. It is actually 35.6% safer with 260 violent crimes per 100,000 people compared to 403.

Violent Crimes by Hawaiian Island

When comparing the Hawaiian islands violent crime rates there was a small variance of less than 10% overall but surprisingly Oahu came in with the lowest violent crime rate in 2017.

Check out the 2017 violent crime rates for the four major islands of Hawaii:

  1. Oahu: 246
  2. Kauai: 253
  3. Big Island: 255
  4. Maui: 269

Looking at the 10-year average it shakes the order up quite a bit though. Here is the 10-year average violent crime rates for Hawaii:

  1. Big Island: 250
  2. Oahu: 251
  3. Maui: 260
  4. Kauai: 285

The trend for total crime and property crime in Hawaii is down but violent crimes are mixed. Here are the trends for violent crimes between 2008 and 2017:

  1. Kauai: down 2.26%
  2. Oahu: down 1.37%
  3. Big Island: up .16%
  4. Maui: up 3.52%

I wanted to dig a bit deeper into these “violent crimes”.  Obviously all crimes are bad, especially violent crimes, but murder and rape are particularly horrendous.

Hawaii has 2.7 murders per 100,000 in population while the U.S. average is 5.3…nearly double!!

Hawaii has 39.7 rapes compared to the U.S. average of 41.7.  Not as much of a gap here but still lower than the national average.

Hawaii is a Safe Place to Live & Visit

When I look at all the crime data I see that Hawaii is less safe compared to the average in the U.S.

Does that concern me? No, not really. And here’s why I think that’s the case.

I live on the Big Island which is the safest of the all the Hawaiian islands when you look at the crime rates as a whole. It may not have the lowest crime rate in 2017 but when you look at total crime, property crime and violent crime along with 10 year averages and trends the Big Island is consistently in the lower crime rates.

If I had to choose one of the Hawaiian islands to live on I would choose…yep, you guessed it…the Big Island. And for so many reasons. But now that I’ve seen the crime data I feel that much better about my choice of islands to call home!

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Joseph

    Statistics fail to brake down crimes against tourists/visitors (by ethnicity) as compared to local resident victims. Tourists are likey targeted for a variety of reasons. Especially unwary Japanese/Chinese who are not prepared for American style dangerous deficiencies. In fact it’s likely that criminals from the mainland acting as tourists, engage in criminal conduct against visitrs and leave the Islands before being identified or apprehended

    1. Scott Wynn

      You bring up a good point of local vs tourist criminal activity. It would certainly be interesting to see the data.

  2. Jared Young

    You seem to leave out the fact the Big Island has nearly the same amount of crime as Oahu with only 1/4 or 1/5 of the population.

    1. Scott Wynn

      All crime rates in the post are per 100,000 which means they’ve been normalized and therefore account for the population variance on each island.

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