How Safe Is Your Neighborhood?

Dear Black Bag Confidential Reader,

One of the most influential factors when choosing a new home in a new neighborhood is a low crime rate. Even realtors will tell you that the most important thing homebuyers ought to consider isn’t the price or the aesthetic or the number of bathrooms, but safety.

But even if you move into a safe neighborhood, that could change. A number of communities across the country have noticed an uptick in burglaries that have negatively impacted property values and compromised people’s sense of security.

For example:

  • In East Brunswick, New Jersey, police are investigating a rash of home burglaries and several more attempted burglaries where the criminals cut power to the homes before they robbed them
  • Last week, 17 men were arrested in connection with a string of burglaries targeting immigrant communities near Houston
  • Police in Youngstown, Ohio reported six neighborhood robberies in one night — and only one arrest has been made
  • A community alert was issued for Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood after seven burglaries were called in last month
  • Local leaders in Chevy Chase, Maryland have insisted on increased police presence prompted by a marked increase in residential break-ins
  • Residents and local law enforcement in Menlo Park, California, have come together to address a recent surge in property crimes.

And then there’s Ferndale, Michigan. This city has become a popular area for flipping. However, thieves have started targeting these neighborhoods because of the high number of empty homes that either are being renovated or are up for sale. Criminals are making off with appliances, even water heaters and furnaces. Local police believe these thieves are breaking in during the day by acting like work crews with large trucks. And since so many houses in the vicinity are being worked on, no one reports anything suspicious.

The truth is criminals are always looking for newer and easier ways to break into homes. If you can learn something about a specific pattern in your own neighborhood, then you can take extra precautions. And while most police departments can give you some information about crimes that occur, it’s usually difficult to get a complete report of statistics and details from them.

Here are some websites that will give you a more in-depth overview of crime in your specific area:

1) AreaVibes — This website gives your neighborhood a letter grade based on multiple factors, including crime, education and nearby amenities. The site also compares your neighborhood with other cities in your state. And you can see how crime in your area compares with the overall crime rate in the state. This website is free, easy to use and a great tool for learning more about your neighborhood.

2) SpotCrime — This website is specially designed for looking up crimes in your area. It’s very detailed and will tell you the exact type of crime that occurred. For example, if a burglary occurred, it will give you the time and date it was reported to police. If you are looking for information on a specific incident, you can search by the type of crime to find out what is going on near you. This website is also free and collects a ton of information to keep you up-to-date on what’s happening around your home.

3) NeighborhoodScout — The best things about this website are the very detailed reports it provides. If you’re the kind of person who likes to see statistics and regular reports on your neighborhood, then this site is the best resource for you. You can even create custom searches and have the information sent to you on a regular basis. However, this website does charge a fee, depending on which reports you want to access.

Even if you aren’t planning on moving anytime soon, I recommend checking out these websites. The more you know about crime trends in your area, the more effectively you can prevent criminals from targeting your home.

Stay safe,

Jason Hanson

Jason Hanson

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