Ways to Determine Neighborhood Crime Rates Before You Move
Checking your neighborhood crime statistics
Moving and trying to narrow down a list of potential new neighborhoods? While making a pro and con list of school district rankings, nearby employment opportunities and entertainment options in the area, don’t forget to include neighborhood crime rates. Knowing this information could make or break a potential housing option. Learn how to find this info, and see ways to make a home safer no matter which neighborhood you choose to live in.
Check crime rates by zip code
Finding crime reports and neighborhood safety information is surprisingly easy. However, many online sources compile data from information released by local police departments, and some don’t report all offenses. Because of this, you may not be able to find a complete report for each zip code, but you should be able to get a good idea.
Use these websites to check crime rates:
- City-Data is a great place to start researching a neighborhood. It provides statistics like home sales, median income, and crime rates broken down by type and compared year to year.
- Family Watchdog combines data from state sex offender registries to provide information on registered sex offenders. You can narrow down the results by zip code or by exact address. For added security, sign up for alerts from the site to be notified of new sex offenders moving into the community.
- Crime Reports partners with law enforcement agencies to provide public access to information. Areas where incidents have been reported will show on a map detailing the type and frequency of crimes. Clearly see areas with high concentrations of thefts, burglaries, property crimes and more.
- My Local Crime is another local crime reporting site, similar to Crime Reports. If you didn’t find anything on one, check the other.
Apps for checking crime rates include:
- Crime and Place has both a free and paid version (depending on the desired features). Use this app as you check out houses — it provides a moving map and compass to see the crime statistics in the surrounding area. It offers both personal and property crime scores and an interactive heat map.
- CrimeMapping provides law enforcement data in a GPS-enabled map, so it will update as you travel through different neighborhoods.
- SpotCrime gives real-time crime information for things like robberies, thefts, shootings, arrests and more.
- MobilePatrol partners with local law enforcement to give you information and alerts. You can enter multiple zip codes for where you live, work, attend school and more.
Other ways to get neighborhood crime reports
The resources listed above are great places to start your research, but statistics don’t always tell the whole story. Get a bigger picture of the safety of the area by doing these things:
Check out the neighborhood
Doing an in-person visit is a great way to get a feel for a neighborhood. While you’re there, be on the lookout for safety issues. Look for clues: Are families hanging out in their yards? Do you notice people jogging on the sidewalks? Do nearby businesses have bars on the windows? Are there watch signs posted? Will a nearby highway or thoroughfare cause any issues? These signals can point to the general safety of the area.
Talk to the locals
It may not be the best idea to ring doorbells if you’re trying to determine neighborhood crime rates —,try talking to people at a local market or a community event to get honest feedback about the area. Ask about peak activity times — is there a time of day with more traffic and activity? Or is there a local festival that brings visitors into town? Also ask about the safety of roads and sidewalks — will there be a problem commuting to work or will a nearby school or church cause a traffic jam?
Do some online research
Visit the city’s website for information (find it by searching “City of (name)” e.g. “City of Chicago.”) Then, search on that site for links labeled “crime rate,” “new residents,” “community data,” “relocation” or similar phrases to find relevant information. You can also search for the city’s police department website — they often report more detailed crime rate information.
Follow local news stories
Hometown newspapers and TV stations will cover local crime stories. Keep an eye out for mentions of the neighborhood. Keeping tabs on local media will help you get a feel for the city on a day-to-day basis.
Neighborhood safety tips
If there were higher crime rates than you hoped for, don’t lose hope. That new home may still be ideal for your family with a few added steps for extra security:
Install a security system. 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. And since most security systems automatically alert police in the event of a break-in or fire, the authorities can be on site quickly in the event of an incident. As an added bonus, many insurance companies offer discounts for homes equipped with security systems.
- Make sure you have adequate insurance. Talk with your insurance agent to determine coverage needs in case of criminal activity.
- Improve lighting. The Campbell Collaboration found that crime decreased by 21 percent 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.
- Complete a home safety checklist. Stay safe in your new home by following these home safety tips.
- Be aware. Stay alert and pay attention if you live in a region with higher crime rates. Lock doors and windows and note even small changes in your surroundings.
Take advantage of these crime check resources 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 determining neighborhood crime rates, just let us know – we’re happy to help.