Understanding Crime Statistics
When choosing a new place to live, people are often concerned about safety.They will often want to know if a certain address is in a "safe" neighborhood and a "good place to live," based upon the level of crime in the neighborhood.
There are problems with using crime data alone to judge if a certain address is a good place to live.
Please consider the following:
- Comparing raw numbers of crimes in two areas to decide which is more safe is difficult. The same number of incidents can mean different things in different areas. Some neighborhoods, such as those near downtown, have a lot of people moving through them every day. Other neighborhoods have relatively few people in them during the day. Three daytime assaults in a quiet, outlying neighborhood might be a major crime problem; three daytime assaults near downtown might be typical or even low. This makes it difficult to compare areas just on the number of crimes.
- No one can predict solely on the basis of past data exactly where crime will occur in the future. This makes it difficult to choose a house or a block that will always be "safe."
- Not all crime is reported to the police as much as 50 percent of some types of crime may go unreported. Some people don't report crimes they consider "minor," and that is an individual decision. Historically, some groups of people have been more likely to report crime to the police than other groups.
- People are often most afraid of crimes committed by strangers. However, many crimes are committed by friends, acquaintances, and family members. Both stranger and non-stranger crimes are included in most of the data we provide to you. Occasionally, programming or human errors cause crimes to be placed at the wrong location on maps.
- Most importantly, many things that may make you feel unsafe don't get included in crime statistics. Everyone is different. You may feel uncomfortable in places that are poorly lighted at night, or where there is a lot of noise, or where people hang out on street corners and ask for money. None of this shows up in our crime data.
What feels "safe" is different for each person. It's important to trust your instincts. Instead of relying on numbers of crimes reported, we suggest you do the following to determine if your new home will feel safe for you:
- Experience your new location. Go there several times at different hours of the day. Talk with neighbors, local businesses, religious institutions, etc. to see how people feel about living on the block. Find out if there is an active block or apartment club, how often neighbors get together, what kind of problems there might be, etc.
- Contact the local neighborhood association. Find out what current issues and concerns are and how you can get involved. They can be reached at (612) 673-2491 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Remember that prevention is your best defense. Come to our workshop on personal safety to learn how to avoid crime on the street. Our workshop on home security will explain low- and no-cost ways to protect your home from burglary. Many blocks have active block or apartment clubs with active neighborhood watch forces that you can join. If there is no active block/apartment club, we can help you start one. If problems that affect your quality of life (drug houses, loud parties, prostitution, vandalism, etc.) develop on your block, we can help you and your neighbors reach solutions.
Last updated Dec. 20, 2011