Crime Stats, What Do They Really Mean?
As a Realtor Â® I'm often asked about crime in specific neighborhoods or why crime statsÂ show to beÂ high for areas that most people would expect to be safe areas. For the most part, RealtorsÂ® aren't really suppose to get involved with rendering opinions about whether a specific neighborhood is safe or dangerous. A Realtor Â® never wants to steer or give the appearance of steering a client towards or away from a specific neighborhood. Also, a Realtor Â® generally hasn't received any formal training about interpretation of crime statistics, so they really aren't qualified to render a professional opinion. Lastly, people have different sensitivities or levels of comfort when it comes to crime, so it's really not in theÂ best interest of Realtors to try toÂ give opinions about how safe an area might be. One person's safe area might be another person's danger area. In addition to concern about steering, imagine if a Realtor Â® told a client that an area was safe and then a short time later the client became a victim of crime in the area that was supposed to be "safe". I'm no lawyer and I don't give legal advice, but I could certainly see the makings of a lawsuit under those circumstances!citizens areÂ astonished with the amount of crime that appears to exist, especially in high density, major metropolitan areas. One must remember, the statistics are just numbers and cannot be considered in a vacuum.Â This isn'tÂ meant to imply that crime doesn't exist, it does!Â It's just that numbers don't always tell the whole story.
These days there are all kinds of statistics available online that helps to allow the average citizen to educateÂ him or herselfÂ about crime in a specific city, neighborhood or specific address. Often times when a person uses online services such as thoseÂ available on Trulia or www.crimereports.comÂ
The flaw in many of the onlineÂ systems is that often times the statistics are associated with wrong addresses. For instance, mostÂ hospitals and the surrounding area will often show as a high crime area.Â The logical explanation for this is that lots of crime victims are at the hospital when they report crime that occurred at at a different location. This could be anything from an assault victim,Â sexual assault victim or car crash victim that reports crimes. Most people would think that the neighborhood around aÂ police station would be safe. Many times the neighborhood could be a safe area, but dueÂ theÂ higher concentrationÂ of police officers coming and going from the area, more traffic stops are initiated, more crimes are detected and more people are arrested and/orÂ cited for traffic violations or offenses observed by the officers. Additionally, there are always people turning themselvesÂ in to authorities at the police station, for offenses that could have occurred at a different time andÂ at a different location.Â Â Another area that will generally show high crime is shopping centers. Most large department stores have loss prevention officers that work in the store to detect shoplifting offenses. Although shoplifting is a crime, many people may not be concerned with that crime when it comes to deciding if a neighborhood is safe to live in. Areas at or around high schools will often times show as a high crime area due to all the reports that are generated to document fights between kids. Reports might also be generated if there are violations for Failure to Attend School / Truancy and Disruption of Class.Â Of course thereÂ will also be the occasional report made for bringing contraband to school, damaging school property or traffic related offenses as kids and/or their parentsÂ come and go from school.
Schools, hospitals, department stores and police stations are just some of the examples of locations that generate police activity and could be the cause for what appears to be a high crime area. There are surely many more examples that could impact crime stats, but may not be cause for alarm. So when it comes to reviewing crime statistics, it might make sense to look a little deeper, rather thanÂ just focusing on a number.
Joe Stone - Realtor / Retired Police Detective
Exclusive Homes Realty