SANTA CRUZ, Calif. - On the surface, it's a bright sun-filled city with a laid-back vibe, full of tourists. But a new study from Movoto Real Estate Blog paints a much darker and dangerous image.
It's something Deputy Police Chief Steve Clark doesn't buy.
"You can't really benchmark Santa Cruz, there's not another city like us," he said. "We tend to import a lot of crime, not much of it is homegrown."
The study puts Santa Cruz 17th among the most dangerous small cities in the U.S. Based on 2012 FBI data, it shows there's a one in 15 chance you will be a victim of some type of crime.
Wilmington, Del. sits at number one with a one in 14 chance. But its chance of becoming a victim of a violent crime is much higher than Santa Cruz.
Clark added the true population at any given time in Santa Cruz is not 60,000, when you account for tourists and homeless people.
"Overall our crime rate over the last two years has decreased by 16 percent," Clark said.
Santa Cruz resident Indiana Maxon knows when and where she should walk alone.
"I don't generally go to downtown Santa Cruz at night by myself," she said.
John Flaniken, a local realtor at American Dream Realty, said the city is safe depending on which part of town you want to live in. But overall, he would definitely recommend Santa Cruz as a good place to live.
Most homebuyers' questions for Flaniken are about proximity to school districts, and he says usually those are the safer neighborhoods to live in.
To see the full list of cities, CLICK HERE