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Ways to Determine Neighborhood Crime Rates Before You Move

April 17th, 2014 - 1:06 PM

Determine Crime Rates by City: What You Need to Know Before You Move

When looking for a new home, it’s important to look for clues to see what the neighborhood is like. Is it noisy? Are there bars on the windows of nearby businesses? Are there neighborhood watch signs? All of these things factor into one big concern: safety. So how do you know whether the neighborhoods you’re considering are safe or not? Here are several ways to determine neighborhood crime rates before you move.

What is the crime rate the neighborhood you're considering?

How to find out about crime in a neighborhood

Visit and Talk

If you’re able, visit the neighborhood before you move. This may require an overnight stay because you’ll want to visit during all times of the day, especially at night. Visiting at night will tell you if it’s safe and quiet when it’s dark outside, not just when it’s light.Also, talk to the neighbors. Find people out working on their lawn, talk to people at the neighborhood market, or ring some doorbells. Ask about the safety of the area. Most people will be happy to give you honest feedback. If the neighborhood has a watch program, ask residents what they are actively doing to promote safety.

If your neighborhood is active with businesses or festivals, pay attention to the noise level and the number of visitors in the area during peak hours. Besides just noting crime rates, pay attention to safety of roads and sidewalks. Are the neighborhood streets dangerous during rush hour? Does a nearby church cause a Sunday morning traffic jam? Take those things into consideration.

Research the city

If you’re moving long-distance and are unable to visit the area, or if you want to do your due diligence, research the city online. Check the city’s official website for crime information. Search for “City of ___” like “City of Chicago” and find the official website (tip: it usually ends in .gov). Then search for links labeled “crime rate,” “new residents,” “community data,” “relocation,” or the like. Typically these pages on a city’s website will give some crime rate information.

Also search for the city’s police department site. Often these sites will report more detailed and localized crime rate information.

Keep up with local news

Local newspapers and TV stations can give you a look into the crime of the area. Check these websites to see stories of local interest. Make notes of neighborhoods mentioned often.

Check out crime websites

There are many websites devoted to neighborhood crime:

Neighborhoodscout.com is a great site for local crime information. On this website, you’ll be able to find out crime rates by address. Then, compare the types of crimes in a particular neighborhood; learn the overall crime rate, view crimes per square mile, and much more. While most of the crime statistics are for paid-subscribers, there is some data you can get for free.

CrimeReports.com is a website where you can compare crime statistics by address and see the crime that has occurred recently in the area.

FamilyWatchdog.us combines information from the state sex offender registry so you can see if your neighborhood has any registered sex offenders nearby. You can even sign up for alerts is a new registered sex offender lives near your area.

City-data.com also gives TONS of information about everything from home sales, median income, crime rates and more.

What if my new neighborhood has a high crime rate?

If you find that your new neighborhood isn’t as safe as you thought, there are a few things you can do.

  • Install a security system. Security systems can alert police in the event of a break-in, fire, and they can even provide you with cameras to watch over your home. Many insurance companies offer discounts for homes, with the percentage depending on the sophistication of the system. Security systems do deter crimes. A study by the School of Criminal Justice at Rutgers University found that residential break-ins decreased with the density of alarm systems.
  • Make sure you have adequate insurance. Speaking of insurance, make sure your home or apartment is adequately covered. Talk with your insurance agent to determine your coverage needs.
  • Improve lighting at your home. The Campbell Collaboration found that crime decreased by 21% in areas with lighting improvements. Lighting increases surveillance, which deters criminals. Lighting also creates community pride, which carries over into decreased daytime crime as well.
  • Be aware. It’s important to simply be more aware if you live in a neighborhood with higher crime rates. Be sure you lock your doors and notice small changes in your surroundings.

No matter how you choose to investigate, make sure to prepare for your move by researching crime rates. If you are in an area with a crime rate that's higher than what you would like, take extra steps to prepare your home for increased safety.  And once you settle on a neighborhood to move to, give U-Pack® a call. We’re ready to help make your move easy and affordable; get a free moving quote online. If you have any questions about moving with U-Pack or about neighborhood crime rates, just let us know – we’re happy to help.