When you’re house-hunting, you probably won’t be able to rely on what your real estate agent to give you all the safety information you need. The research about local crime and general safety of neighborhoods will be up to you. The good news is, thanks to a handful of helpful websites like the ones we are featuring here, it’s easy to find neighborhood crime statistics and even compare neighborhood safety ratings. Whether you’re about to move or are settled somewhere, becoming aware of neighborhood crime can help you protect yourself and loved ones better.
Spotcrime gathers information about crime incidents from law enforcement agencies, news reports, and user tips. Then, it plots those crimes on Google Maps so you can see exactly where they happened. Icons like “assault” or “DUI” are assigned to every crime, so with a quick glance you can get a clear picture of what’s happening in your community.
Spotcrime is free and anyone can go online to access crime maps. Users may sign up for crime alerts via text message, email, Facebook, or Twitter to stay up-to-the-minute with dangerous happenings near you. You can set crime watches for neighborhoods all over the United States too, so if you have a kid away at school or family in another area, you can keep tabs on their safety.
Over the years, Spotcrime has developed a number of helpful resources to enhance the safety of towns across America. A user-based reporting system has been put in place to allow community members to report suspicious activity and crimes they’ve witnessed. You can do so anonymously or by giving your name.
Another great safety resource is Spotcrime’s blog. It offers a wealth of information about how to get the most value out of the site and tips on safety. Plus, it will keep you updated about when new cities are added to the Spotcrime map.
As the name implies, Neighborhoodscout helps you find the neighborhood that’s best suited to your family’s needs. The web-based search engine uses local crime stats to build neighborhood profiles that allow you as the user to compare neighborhood crimes and trends.
The website also gives parents the chance to find just what they want in a neighborhood by selecting lifestyle keywords such as “first-time homebuyer” and “young professional.” So if you’re just starting out or are looking for luxury living, you can find areas of interest more easily.
No matter what you search, the website can retrieve detailed information about neighborhoods, crime data, school ratings, and even appreciation rates. All of this information is calculated by applying algorithms to municipal crime statistics from the FBI, so it’s up-to-date and accurate.
The best part about Neighborhoodscout hands down is not only that it offers a plethora of neighborhood crime information, but details about schools and homes. A really cool thing about Neighborhoodscout is that it also lets you specify a neighborhood that you like and is able to find similar neighborhoods in any state you choose. This could come in handy if you love where you live, but have plans to move somewhere new.
Whether you’re moving to a new neighborhood or plan on staying in your home for years, you’ll want to get familiar with this site. The National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW) is the only U.S. government site that identifies sex offender from state, territorial, and tribal registries together. You’ll only need to do one search to have all the information you need about sex offenders.
This is a free service and you can search the database by name, address, zip code, county or city to discover data about convicted sex offenders living, working and attending school near you. The site also offers valuable information about sexual abuse. Since The National Center for Victims of Crime stated that “1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys is a victim of child sexual abuse,” this is an important tool to use to keep your kids out of harm’s way.
Crimereports believes that education is the best defense against crime. It connects law enforcement agencies and the public by publishing crime data for everyone to see.
Search for crime reports in your area by entering your address. Advanced search options allow you to discover crime statistics from the past 3, 7, 14 or 30 days or by searching for exact dates. Users have the option of searching by a specific crime type too.
What’s truly great about Crimereports is that you can sign up for crime alerts (daily, weekly or monthly) and use the Crimereports app (iPhone and iPad) whenever you want to check in on what’s going on in your community. If you know about a crime, you can use this tool to submit a crime tip to alert others as well.
PublicEngines, the company behind Crimereports, was named one of the fastest growing companies in the U.S. by “Inc. Magazine” in 2013. In fact, the booming crime site has enjoyed a 613 percent growth over three years and its products are used by more than 2,000 law enforcement agencies and other organizations around the world.
This is very similar to Spotcrime and allows users to input their addresses to find a chronology of recent crimes in their area. Theft, shooting, burglary, assault, robbery, arrest, and “other” are all categories the site uses to show what’s happening nerby. If you click on any incident, you’ll be able to get a quick description of the crime. For instance, an arrest might say “drunk driving” or “drug possession: heroin.” These details are important to know.
Unlike Spotcrime where users can report crimes, this data is all pulled from police reports and news sources. Consider it a crime ticker that you can check in on to make sure your neighborhood is safe.
Developed by The Omega Group, this website reports on local crimes through original research. Priding itself on not “scraping” data from other websites, it uses an advanced mapping system, ESRI, and partnership with police departments to pull current crime data right from the source.
In order for crimes to be reported to CrimeMapping.com, police departments need to be subscribed to the website, so if they’re not, you won’t be able to read about it on the site.
However, one major upside to CrimeMapping.com is that you can sign up for crime alerts with your email and customize your settings. Choose an address and set up a perimeter to see crimes within one, two, or even 20 miles from home. Even select the types of crimes you’re interested in viewing like fraud, sex crimes, arson, vandalism, disturbing the peace, and more. There is a special category for sex offender information that will provide you with a list of ones in your area since this is a large safety concern that requires special attention.
Both the public and police contribute to this crime aggregator website, RAIDS Online. To see what’s going on nearby, you can select from a highly detailed list of crimes (like homicide, death investigation, vehicle theft, etc.). Users may view information on a computer or by downloading the app to your smart device. You can also sign up for crime alerts to your email so you’ll know right away of potential danger near you.
This crime map doesn’t have every city listed in its dropdown. For instance, if you’re looking for Salt Lake City, you can input the address, but you won’t be able to “jump to that city” in the dropdown or see events that are immediately close to you. It doesn’t seem to be as sensitive as other similar crime reporting websites, but it’s there for you to use nonetheless.
This is a really cool app. It not only reports on crime, but has a number of other safety features as well. First, it allows users to report crimes through video, image, or audio clips. It lets you call the police and send automatic help messages if you’re in danger too.
If you have kids, you can have them download this CitizenCOP app and set up a “safe zone” perimeter so you’ll be alerted if they travel outside of bounds. That way, you’ll know where they are and can protect them better.
CitizenCOP even has additional consumer protection features like its cab fare estimator and vehicle background check to keep you from being overcharged for fare or from buying a stolen vehicle. It really is a modern and comprehensive safety app that goes above and beyond the typical crime mapping website.
If you’re contemplating a move, these tools can really help, but they’re only going to be able to give you the “on-paper” information. It’s important that you get out on location and personally scout out the area yourself if you’re planning on buying a home in a new neighborhood. Check out the streets during the week, at night, early in the morning, and on weekends. See how you feel walking around. Once you’ve done that as well as compared your experience to crime data online, you’ll be in a better position to make a decision about where you rent or buy a home.
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. Learn more