Why would a safe neighborhood have an above average crime risk?


faq Background: A client forwarded a concern that one of their users had about our Crime Statistics for a neighborhood in New Jersey. The neighborhood is considered to be safe yet we have shown the Crime Risk Index to be higher than the national average. The user questioned the accuracy of our data.

Question: Why would a safe neighborhood have an above average Crime Risk?

Answer: First, we should point out that Crime Risk is defined as the chance that a crime will be committed against your person or property when compared against every other ZIP code in the United States. This is not a count of the actual incidence of crime in an area. Risk indexes are useful in that they level the playing field in terms of the size of the location and the number of persons living in it.

There are several factors that might contribute to above average Crime Risk data for a relatively safe neighborhood:

  • Keep in mind that a crime risk of 150 does not indicate high crime and is very typical for cities - even in their safest neighborhoods.
  • ZIP codes often contain several disparate areas. Perhaps a family lives in a gated community, but there may be other areas included in the ZIP code. Some times, truck stops, highway corridors, commercial / industrial areas located in the ZIP code can have a negative effect on overall crime rates.
  • Neighborhoods are constantly changing. The risk indexes are based upon the most recent seven years of FBI crime reports. While the index is weighted more heavily toward the more recent reports, neighborhoods can change quickly with new development and population growth.
  • High income, affluent neighborhoods often demonstrate a high risk for property crimes such as motor vehicle theft and larceny.

While OBI uses a vast majority of resources available for this index, the primary historical source for this information is the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report (UCR). It is important to note that, as with most governmental sources, the UCR report lags present day by two to three years. There may have been significant increases or decreases in crime risk in the intervening period. We encourage our clients and their customers to consult with a knowledgeable local Real Estate agent or contact the local police department for additional information.

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