There are various online resources for researching crime statistics of different areas http://(www.SpotCrime.com
is one such resource). Real estate agents typically defer to the local police department and published crime statistics, because giving their personal opinion of an area's safety is too subjective. Everyone's idea & opinion of safety is relative - what's "safe" to me, might not be to you, and vice versa. It's recommended to visit any areas you are interested in at different parts of the day to get a "feel" for the surroundings. Also, knock on a few doors and ask the people who live in the area day in and day out their opinion as well.
I'd rather get an opinion from the residents who live in any given area....than from a real estate agent who not only might not live there, but also is trying to ultimately sell a house to me. If I walked into a car dealership and asked the salesman if one of the cars they are selling is safe - I'm fairly confident I'm not going to get an unbiased answer - regardless of the statistics. Additionally, real estate agents generally err on the side of caution when addressing the "safety" of any given area - to avoid even a remote chance of the answer being misconstrued as "steering", which is illegal. I'd alse hate to tell someone I thought an area was safe, have them buy a property there - and get robbed the day after they move in.
Hope this helps!