Orange County rates high in safety


Residents of Orange County can breathe a sigh of relief.

While fear of crime and violence remain concerns of daily life, in its 10th annual Safest Cities Report, the SafeWise home safety equipment website finds that Orange County is home to the six safest cities in California and seven of the top 10.

Using the most recent available FBI data from 2022, including statistics on violent and property crimes, gun violence and package theft, the site ranked Rancho Santa Margarita, Aliso Viejo, Yorba Linda, Laguna Niguel, Mission Viejo, and Lake Forest as the top six safest cities, respectively, in the state. Irvine was ranked No. 10.

While the presence of law enforcement through Orange County is key, officials say an engaged citizenry is also vital, along with the often cited “If You See Something, Say Something” mantra. Created as part of an anti-terrorism campaign, See Something, Say Something has been widened to include all forms of crimes that affect public safety.

Sites such as, Orange County’s leading public safety website, provide a wide variety of information and safety tips.

The FBI crime data have been available since mid-2023, however SafeWise released its analyses in April of the data for California and the nation. Depending on data and metrics used and how they are weighted, other sites may have different outcomes.

For example, PropertyClub released its Safest Cities list in February with Danville, Rancho Santa Margarita, Moorpark, Aliso Viejo, Poway, Yorba Linda, Rancho Palos Verdes, Laguna Niguel, Mission Viejo, and Thousand Oaks ranked as 1-10, respectively.

A list by Safe and Sound Security listed its top 10 safest cities as Rancho Santa Margarita, Imperial, Moorpark, Aliso Viejo, Orinda, Danville, Saratoga, Tiburon, Simi Valley, and Yorba Linda, respectively.

Size matters

All of the top six cities in the SafetyWise rankings, and as a general rule among such lists, have populations under 100,000. These Orange County cities contract with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department for services.

Irvine, at No. 10, and was by far the largest of the top-ranked cities in the top 10 and the only O.C. city in the list with its own police department.

Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes was proud but not surprised, noting his department’s “pronounced presence” throughout the county, as well as its relationships with individual city police departments.

Officials say residents shouldn’t rank safety by crime data alone, but consider other factors such as demographics, a city’s economic health, and the criminal justice system in the area.

Orange County has recently made news for its tough on crime campaigns, which range from the Seal Beach police department and its use of social media videos to demean accused shoplifters and crooks, to the District Attorney’s “Crime doesn’t pay in Orange County” messaging on billboards and buses.

The FBI data, from two-thirds of the country’s law enforcement agencies in a revamped reporting system, indicate that violent crime in California has surged since the pandemic and as of 2022. The rate is 31 percent higher than the national rate, driven largely by aggravated assaults which have decreased nationally but risen in California, as analyzed by the Public Policy Institute.

Just under half of California’s law enforcement agencies (49 percent) reported crime numbers for 2022.