Cities with the highest and lowest crime rates
TIPS FOR FINDING A SAFE NEIGHBORHOOD
If you’ve gone down our list of neighborhood apps and still wonder “how safe is my neighborhood?” here are a few more tips to help find the answer:
TALK TO LOCAL SHOPS
Do a neighborhood check. If a community is thriving, local shops will prosper. If you notice booming restaurants, bookstores, coffee shops, and even clothing stores, chances are people are happy in the neighborhood and supporting their local small businesses. Go ahead and talk to business owners and visit shops! Getting information from your potential neighbors is always a win.
CHECK IF THERE’S A NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH
Neighborhood watch is essentially one of the oldest crime prevention programs in the country. More than 40% of Americans live in areas covered by one. If your neighborhood has one, chances are the citizens in the area have a good relationship with local law enforcement and will do their diligent duty to report any suspicious activity or behavior. Cities with the highest and lowest crime rates tend to both have neighborhood watch groups.
TALK TO COMMUNITY YOUTH GROUPS
If you’re trying to find a safe haven for your children, researching youth groups is the way to go. Perhaps there’s a local dance group, after-school program, church group, or a local volunteer group that your family can participate in. Ask around and find out what family resources are out there.
ATTEND COMMUNITY EVENTS
If a neighborhood offers community events to celebrate their neighborhood, that’s always a great sign. Whether it’s a farmer’s market, charity event, or the opening of a local business, it’s a great opportunity to experience the people and environment you will soon be living in.
LOOK FOR WELL-LIT STREETS
Take a drive through the neighborhood and do an area safety check at night. Look out for working street lights and signs. Your neighborhood should feel safe to walk in. If there’s not enough light, chances are you won’t see many neighbors out and about.
GAUGE PROXIMITY TO LOCAL SCHOOLS, PARKS, AND WALKING TRAILS
If the specific area you want to live in has many local schools and well-kept parks, that’s often a good sign because you’ll get to meet families and learn about neighborhood activities.
CHECK ITS WALKABILITY SCORE
Use Google’s easy Walk Score tool to figure out how pedestrian-friendly the area is. Simply enter the name of the city and you’ll find information on car-dependency, transit availability, and bike-ability as well. Although it doesn’t necessarily spot crime, it allows you to find out if your evening strolls are safe. Cities with the highest and lowest crime rates will gravely impact your ability to ride around!
THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR
While these signs don’t guarantee a neighborhood is unsafe, you’ll want to be aware of them when choosing if an area is right for you. A good way to analyze the safety of the neighborhood for yourself is to drive by the neighborhood at a few times and look for:
A 2017 report from the Harvard Business Review found a correlation between retail stores and crime rates — when stores and restaurants close, crime goes up. The hypothesis is that stores act as a form of security, and when an area is left unchecked, property crime and vehicle theft increase. If you see many abandoned buildings in a neighborhood you’re thinking about moving into, you may want to look into its crime statistics.
HIGH CRIME RATES
While this seems like an obvious one, it’s important not to stereotype a whole city. In fact, violent crimes are often concentrated in small areas. One study found that nearly half of crime complaints and gun violence took place in 5% of street segments. You can look up the crime data for your specific neighborhood to get a better understanding of which areas are dangerous.
A nice front yard isn’t just visually appealing, it’s been correlated with reduced crime. A 2015 study of over 1,000 Baltimore City homes found that trees, garden hoses, sprinklers, and well-kept lawns were negatively associated with crime, while litter, overgrown lawns, and small trees were positively associated with crime. Again, something to consider when looking at cities with the highest and lowest crime rates.
LIMITED GREEN SPACE
In many cities, the better green space, the less criminal activity. However, just having a park in your area isn’t enough. According to North Carolina University, “Parks that are designed for safety, heavily programmed on an ongoing basis and well maintained tend to attract residents whose presence serves as a crime deterrent.” That is, the park must support positive activities, create a community, and have funding for upkeep.
BEST AND WORST CITIES FOR SAFETY
Whether you’re moving across town or across the country, it’s important to know which cities, states or regions have the highest and lowest crime rates. We used data from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report to calculate a score for each U.S. city based on rates of violent crime (ie. murder, aggravated assault, etc.) and property crime (ie. burglary, grand theft auto, etc.).