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Ways to Determine Neighborhood Crime Rates Before You Move

September 11th, 2015 - 9:59 AM

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

When looking for a new home, it’s important to research the surrounding neighborhood to make sure you choose an area that’s safe and sound. So how do you know whether the areas you’re considering are safe or not? Here are several ways to determine neighborhood crime rates before moving.

find neighborhood crime rates

How to find out about crime in a neighborhood

Observe and ask questions

If you’re able, visit the location before you move. This may require an overnight stay because you’ll want to check it out during all times of the day, especially at night (when many crimes occur). Are families hanging out in their yards? Do you notice people jogging on the sidewalks? Is it noisy and bustling (where misconduct might go unnoticed)? Are there bars on the windows of nearby businesses?  Does the neighborhood have watch signs posted? Take note if you notice any of these signals, which can point to the overall safety of the area.

Make a point to talk to some of your potential neighbors. Talk to people at the local market, or attend a community event where you can chat with residents. 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.

Take these additional details into consideration as you evaluate the safety of a neighborhood:

  • Is the community active with thriving businesses, festivals, or events? Note the noise level and number of visitors in the area during peak activity hours.
  • Pay attention to the safety of roads and sidewalks. Will there be a problem walking to work during rush hour? Will a nearby school or church cause frequent traffic jams? Also consider the proximity of the area to major highways and thoroughfares.

Research the city

If you’re moving long-distance and are unable to visit the area, research the neighborhood online. Check the city’s website for information by searching “City of (name)” e.g. “City of Chicago”, to find the official website (tip: the official website usually ends in .gov instead of .com). Then search on that site for links labeled “crime rate,” “new residents,” “community data,” “relocation,” or similar phrases to find the info you’re looking for. You can also search for the city’s police department site as they often report more detailed and localized crime rate information.

Keep up with local news

Local newspapers and TV stations are also good resources to determine criminal activity in the area. Check these websites to see stories of local interest and search for mentions of your neighborhood.

Check out crime websites

There are several websites devoted to reporting neighborhood crime rates.  Some police departments don’t report offenses to these aggregator sites, so keep in mind that so you may not find everything you’re looking for. Use these crime rate reporting websites to investigate most areas:

Neighborhoodscout.com is a great site for local crime information. Here you’ll find crime rates broken down by neighborhood. With a subscription, you can view offenses by type in a particular region, view crimes per square mile as well as the overall rate, and much more. While most of the statistics on NeighborhoodScout are for paid subscribers, some data is available for free.

CrimeReports.com provides a comparison tool for crime statistics by address that includes recent crime in the area. This site also populates a map specifically showing where the incidents have occurred.

FamilyWatchdog.us combines information from state sex offender registries to provide information on registered sex offenders in each town.  For added security, sign up for alerts from the site to be notified of new sex offenders moving into the community.

MyLocalCrime.com also outlines crimes by region, sorted by the date, time, and type of crime, with the option to plot incidents on a map for easier viewing.  

City-data.com provides specific information about crime rates, including extra details like home sales, median income, and more.

What if the neighborhood has a high crime rate?

If you find that the area you were considering isn’t as safe as you’d like, there are a few steps you can take for added security:

  • Install a security system. Most security systems automatically alert police in the event of a break-in or fire, and include cameras to monitor the home while you’re away. Studies have shown that security systems do deter crime—the School of Criminal Justice at Rutgers University found that residential break-ins decreased with the density of alarm systems in a neighborhood. As an added bonus, many insurance companies offer discounts for homes equipped with security systems.
  • Make sure you have adequate insurance. Adequate coverage is important in case you’re the victim of a wrongdoing. 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. Install lights around the exterior of your home, and keep porch lights on at night.
  • Be aware. Stay alert and pay attention if you live in a region with higher crime rates. Lock your doors and note even small changes in your surroundings.

Take advantage of these resources to research and prepare your options before selecting a new home. Once you decide where you're moving, 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, or how to determine neighborhood crime rates, just let us know – we’re happy to help.

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