Crime Rates in Delaware: A Closer Look at Sussex County

Overview of Crime Rates in Delaware

4/11/20232 min read

Overview of Crime Rates in Delaware

According to the 2010 FBI Uniform Crime Report, both violent and property crime rates in Delaware are significantly higher than the surrounding states and the national average. Interestingly, apart from the City of Wilmington, the highest crime rates in 2010 were concentrated in Sussex County towns and cities.

Violent and Property Crime Rates in Sussex County

Expressed as incidents of crime per 100,000 population, nine out of the top ten highest violent crime and property crime rates occurred in Sussex County communities in 2010. These crime rates were well above the Delaware and U.S. average.

Violent Crime Rate 2010:

  • Dewey Beach: 4000.0

  • Wilmington: 1909.4

  • Laurel: 1688.3

  • Milford: 1512.7

  • Milton: 1381.5

  • Bridgeville: 928.1

  • Georgetown: 865.8

  • Millsboro: 847.8

  • Rehoboth Beach: 800.5

  • Seaford: 756.5

Property Crime Rate 2010:

  • Dewey Beach: 22461.5

  • Bethany Beach: 17004.0

  • Rehoboth Beach: 13977.8

  • Camden: 8592.0

  • Milford: 7381.7

  • Milton: 7067.0

  • Laurel: 6214.8

  • Dover: 5717.7

  • Wilmington: 5659.9

  • Seaford: 5659.9

Interpreting Crime Rates in Vacation Communities

Since these rates are based on year-round population, they are more difficult to interpret for vacation communities in Sussex County, especially the violent crime rates. For example, Dewey Beach had only one forcible rape in 2010, no murders, and just ten aggravated assaults. Property crimes, however, are more closely linked to the housing stock in a community.

Home Invasions and Burglary Rates in Sussex County

A particular concern in Sussex County recently has been the high incidence of home invasions. The FBI defines burglary as an unlawful entry of a building to commit a felony or a theft. The FBI data on burglary rates appears to confirm that there is a problem. Again, nine out of the top ten communities by burglary rate are in Sussex County, and these rates are well above the nation. Sussex County accounts for 20% of the population and 26% of all burglaries in Delaware communities.

Burglary Rate 2010:

  • Milton: 4197.7

  • Dewey Beach: 3692.3

  • Greenwood: 1826.0

  • Laurel: 1810.6

  • Selbyville: 1757.1

  • Rehoboth Beach: 1662.6

  • Wilmington: 1605.0

  • Ocean View: 1528.0

  • Georgetown: 1411.6

  • Bethany Beach: 1315.8

Crime Patterns in Sussex County

Unsurprisingly for a resort area, Sussex County also accounts for a disproportionate share of the forcible rapes and vehicle theft in Delaware. While there is no rampant crime wave in Sussex County, concern over home invasions appears to be warranted. Evaluating peak vacation season staffing of law enforcement in beach communities may be worth considering to address these issues.

Source: Dr. John E. Stapleford, Director, [Center for Economic Policy and Analysis](

Recommendations for Addressing Crime in Sussex County

To better address the crime rates and concerns in Sussex County, particularly during the vacation season, several steps can be taken:

  1. Evaluate law enforcement staffing: Assess the need for increased presence in beach communities during peak vacation season to deter crime and respond more effectively to incidents.

  2. Enhance community awareness: Inform residents and visitors about the local crime trends and encourage them to take preventive measures, such as securing their homes and vehicles.

  3. Collaborate with local businesses: Work with hotels, restaurants, and other businesses in the area to establish partnerships promoting safety and security for residents and tourists.

  4. Implement community policing strategies: Encourage law enforcement agencies to engage with the community, build trust, and work together to address crime concerns and develop tailored solutions.

By taking a proactive approach to addressing crime in Sussex County, it is possible to enhance the safety and security of both locals and visitors, ultimately contributing to a more enjoyable vacation experience and fostering a positive reputation for the area.