Is Your Neighborhood Safe? 7 Tools to Help You Find Out

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Here are 7 tools to help you research the safety of your neighborhood

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Before you research, consider bias

Safety is subjective. What you consider a safe neighborhood, someone else may not. For example, some may look for a home near a local police station so that help is always minutes away, while others would find that a terrifying neighborhood feature.

While reading this article, think about how you use neighborhood safety tools. Are you using them to build or divide your community? When you find problems, look for solutions. Remember that community safety comes from putting in work. 

Also, make sure you're not spreading disinformation, and be careful not to racially profile or stereotype people you don't recognize in your neighborhood.

There's more to neighborhood safety than crime statistics

Keep in mind many of these tools use crime statistics by address and don’t factor in a lot of things that make a neighborhood safe, so the results may be misleading. You don’t get a complete picture of how truly safe a neighborhood is. There are many things that can make a neighborhood safe:

  • Good lighting at night
  • Sidewalks and biking lanes
  • A fire station nearby
  • Fire hydrants that are close to homes
  • Good schools
  • Access to medical care
  • Clean parks

And there are plenty of ways to make a neighborhood safer. Here are some neighborhood safety tips.


Neighborhood research tools

These tools have large crime-tracking components, but crime monitoring is just one piece of community safety. We were sure to include safety tools that can help create community-based safety networks too. Whether you're trying to track down a lost pet or solve missing-package mysteries, you have people on your side.

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Build an A-team

Learn more about community-building in our piece about staying safe in your neighborhood.

1. Best for checking crime in your state: Federal Bureau of Investigation Crime Data Explorer

Federal Bureau of Investigation Crime Data Explorer

Image: SafeWise

The Federal Bureau of Investigation Crime Data Explorer compiles crime reports from all over the country. While the tool doesn’t portray crime mapping by address, you can find crime data for your state, your city, or a location you might want to move to in the future. The data is divided by crime type, including violent crime rate, hate crime, property crime, and arrests.

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Where people feel safest in the U.S.

Is your state on the list? Check out our report The State of Safety in America.

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2. Best for getting a true idea of an area’s overall safety: AreaVibes

AreaVibes

Image: SafeWise

AreaVibes has crime maps, but it also generates neighborhood safety scores based on more than just crime.

AreaVibes assigns a neighborhood safety rating letter grade from F to A+ for each of seven livability factors: crime rate, amenities, cost of living, education, employment, housing, and user ratings. Then, it compares your area’s livability score to state and national averages.

AreaVibes’ custom search function sets it apart from similar tools, allowing you to sort locations by the seven livability factors. This can be helpful if you’re scouting for a new place to live to get a complete picture of just how safe an area is beyond crime statistics.

If crime is most important to you, AreaVibes is a great way to quickly and easily compare the crime activity in several cities. It breaks crimes down by type, number of reported incidents, and crimes per 100,000 people. The site also provides statistics about the area’s crime trends and shows how it compares to state and national crime statistics.

3. Best for contributing and connecting with your neighbors: The Neighbors App

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The Neighbors App by Ring (known for its Ring doorbell cameras and Ring Alarm home security system) aims to be an online neighborhood watch program. You don’t have to be a Ring customer to use the app. It’s free to download and use no matter what security system or devices you own.

Neighbors uses reports by people in your neighborhood and local law enforcement to alert you to suspicious activities and crime events in your area. You can also anonymously contribute your tips.

Neighbors isn’t just a neighborhood crime app, though. Some neighborhoods use the app to band together and keep safe during natural disasters or organize neighborhood watches. You can also submit or look for information on lost pets.

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Use Ring Pet Tag with Neighbors App!

Ring released the Ring Pet Tag in late 2023. It's a tag for your pet's collar that comes with a unique QR code. If your fur baby scampers off, anyone who finds them can help get them safely home by scanning the QR code on the tag (note: this is not a GPS tracker). The code reveals your pet's profile, which includes things like their name, owner, and how to contact you. It also gives you real-time alerts if someone scans the code—and it sends out an SOS on the Ring Neighbors app so helpful souls can be on the lookout for your roving Rover.

4. Best for finding sex offenders: Family Watchdog

Family Watchdog

Image: SafeWise

Family Watchdog maps the addresses of registered sex offenders in your neighborhood or near your child’s school. Just type a location or address into the website’s search box, and Family Watchdog generates a map pinpointing the address of nearby registered sex offenders. If you’re looking for a specific individual, you can search for them by name.

Color-coded icons correspond to various sex crimes, including crimes against children, sexual battery, and rape. Click the icon, and you’ll see a picture of the offender, learn their aliases, and find out what sex crime they’ve been convicted of.

You can sign up for alerts whenever a registered sex offender moves in or out of your neighborhood through the website. In addition to detailed information about offenders, this online tool offers personal safety tips, facts about sexual abuse, and a comprehensive blog and newsletter.

Family Watchdog is a free service, but you’ll be sent off-site to a subscription service if you want detailed background reports about any offenders.

5. Best for specific crime data: CityProtect

Image: SafeWise

CityProtect is an interactive neighborhood crime map that uses data from more than 1,000 participating law enforcement agencies. Search CityProtect by city, region, address, zip code, or law enforcement agency to see a map with icons identifying recent police activity.

We like how specific this tool gets. Filters allow you to narrow your crime search by date range, day of the week, time of day, and incident type. With CityProtect, you can also sign up for periodic crime alerts, submit a tip, and register your home security camera.

6. Best user-friendly tool: SpotCrime

SpotCrime

Image: SafeWise

SpotCrime maps crimes on-site and delivers crime alerts to your email. It gathers data from more than just law enforcement agencies. It also collects information from news reports and user tips.

SpotCrime isn’t as robust as some of the other sites on our list, but we appreciate how user-friendly and highly visual it is, giving you a quick look at crime information in your neighborhood. Crimes are represented by icons that make it easy to see what activity takes place in your neighborhood.

When you click on an icon, you get the crime title, when and where it took place, and a link that directs you to the source where the data came from.

7. Best on-the-go crime data: Life360

Screenshots: SafeWise

Life360 is a phone app with heaps of safety features, including crime report maps and sex offender maps. It's great for quickly checking the safety of a neighborhood when you're traveling or making plans for a fun night out. Life360's crime and sex offender maps require at least a Silver membership plan, which costs about $15 a month and covers everyone in your Circle.

The only downside is that you can't filter the crime maps to show specific types of crime, like assault. On the other hand, you do get a lot of information about sex offenders—right down to their photo, age, address, and crime. 

Having Life360 in your pocket also means you have quick access to an SOS button if you feel unsafe. If you sign up for the Platinum plan (about $25/mo.) you can also get extra safety features like roadside assistance or travel assistance, which can help you feel secure no matter where you go.


How to prevent break-ins

Wherever you live, feeling safe in your home can bring greater peace of mind and happiness. Check out our home security checklist to make sure your home is as protected as possible.

You may also want to consider a monitored home security system or security cameras to help protect your loved ones and valuables. Just seeing a security camera or home security sign or sticker can deter a would-be intruder. And monitored systems can call for law enforcement if a break-in does occur.

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If you go this route, there are some things to remember:

  • Arming: Make sure your system or camera is armed when you’re away or asleep. Some systems can be armed from an app or put on an arming schedule to make things easier.
  • Placement: Place cameras so they get a good view of doorways and windows.
  • Sensors: Be sure to install window and door sensors throughout your home, not just at the front door. No matter where the intruder enters, you want the alarm to sound and scare them away.
  • Security signs: Place yard signs and window stickers prominently so they will catch the attention of potential intruders.

For more, check out our burglary prevention guide and our guide to outsmarting burglars.

Compare the best home security systems

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ProfessionalBest professional home security$599.00No *Amazon,
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Z-Wave
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DIY or ProBest customer ratingQuote requiredNo *Amazon, Google
Ring
DIYBest budget-friendly pick$199.99NoAmazon, Google, Z-Wave
DIY or ProBest DIY home security$245.00NoAmazon,
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Info current as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change. Read full disclaimer.
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Disclaimers

Amazon: *Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product. Safewise.com utilizes paid Amazon links.

Certain content that appears on this site comes from Amazon. This content is provided “as is” and is subject to change or removal at any time.

Alexia Chianis
Written by
Alexia Chianis
Wanderlust junky and mom of two, Alexia is a former police officer and U.S. Army Captain who draws on her experiences to write about a myriad of safety topics.

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