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Researching Crime Rates and Neighborhood Safety Before You Move

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Safety should be a top priority when choosing a neighborhood to move into. Whether you will be moving alone or with a family, it's important to research the crime rate of any potential neighborhood before moving there.

researching crime rate in a place

There are many different ways to research the crime rates and educate yourself on the safety of a neighborhood.

1. Conduct research online on crime rates in the neighborhood

To effectively research crime rates in a neighborhood, you can analyze facts and figures through the FBI's website. Although crime rates have decreased across the country since the mid-1990s, violent crimes and property crimes can still occur at any time and at any place. Also, there are certain locations that are more or less susceptible to violations.

Knowing about the crime rates in advance can help you select the best neighborhood to move to.

FBI Uniform Crime Reports

The FBI hosts a criminal justice information service, so anyone can access information on crime in the nation. You can find crime data that is produced by four annual national publications which makes this website the most reliable source. There are reports and general resources available to everyone with general data, trends, statistics and crime-analyzing tools.

Some specific data collections you can utilize:

  • National Incident-Based Reporting System
  • Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted
  • Hate Crime Statistics Program
  • Crime Data Explorer

National Sex Offender Public Website

The Department of Justice also provides information for all nationally registered sex offenders as a safety resource for adults and children. With this information ready for your use, you can take the proper precautions and avoid yourself from risk of harm.

You can use this website to see if there are any registered sex offenders in your area, regardless of state, in addition to having access to where they live.

Crime-tracking websites

There are tons of crime-tracking websites designed specifically for you to easily check out different neighborhood crime rates. Use these online tools to accurately learn about neighborhood safety. Outside of reliability, the next best thing is that all of these services are free to use for you!

Try the Crime Report tool to measure two states. This will help you compare where you're currently living to where you plan on moving to.

2. Visit the neighborhood to see if you feel safe

It goes without saying that investigating the area yourself is one of the most effective ways to determine whether you feel safe or anxious. When you visit your potential neighborhood:

  • Inspect the area during the day AND at night to make sure you are comfortable at all hours
  • Talk to the locals to gauge the level of friendliness as well as an insider's honest opinion
  • Drive by playgrounds to see if they are well-maintained and populated with kids
  • Note how many dilapidated, abandoned or foreclosed properties there are

3. Speak with the authorities about neighborhood safety

A great way to get an accurate handle on the crime rate is by speaking with local law enforcement. Mostly every suburb has their own municipal website which includes a page for the city police department. You can also find contact information and current updates on their Facebook page.

These government-run sources provide you with lots of transparent and authentic statistical data. There should also be historical crime data that is readily accessible to the public. Read up on past crime trends to see how it has affected the neighborhood.

If possible, stop in at police headquarters. An off-duty officer or one on desk duty might have the time to discuss the neighborhood from their point-of-view.

4. Read local news for information about the neighborhood's safety

When you're visiting the new area, pick up a local newspaper and read the police blotter to get an idea of what goes on in the area. You can also view a copy on the town's website before you visit. Crime reports will be a useful tool in deciding which area you should consider and which area you should stay far away from.

The news should be used as a supplementary resource to the information you've already gathered, since not all crimes are reported in the media. However, scanning the news periodically and staying up-to-date with the area's major stories can give you a good sense of what the crime is like in a certain city or town.

Finding out the crime rate of a neighborhood you're considering calling home is important to understanding the overall livability.

Nicole Schurott  Posted by Nicole Schurott on January 3, 2019

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