Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Can I get a Custom Crime Report for my business address?
+ Q. Can I license your crime data via an API?
+ Q. What do the blue colors on the State and City maps signify?
+ Q. How current is your crime data?
+ Q. Where do you get your crime statistics?
+ Q. What makes your methodology unique?
+ Q. How do you define a neighborhood?
+ Q. What is the Crime Index?
+ Q. How do you define crime rates in highly-touristed areas?
+ Q. How can I see the crime rates at the neighborhood level?
+ Q. What crime data will be available to me once I subscribe?
+ Q. How can a city have a high crime rating if all of its neighborhoods have very low crime ratings?
+ Q. The map on the city page looks like it covers a broader area than the city. Does this mean the crimes used for this report come from a broader area than the city limits?
+ Q. Why rank cities on safety even though the FBI cautions against it?
+ Q. Crime has been going down in a city, so how can it have a high crime rating?
+ Q. I see crime data on a city’s website or the FBI’s website that is different than the data here. Why is that?
+ Q. What are the definitions for each type of crime?
+ Q. An area I just reviewed had violent crime stats that were above average, property crime stats that were well above average, but then the Crimes Per Square Mile stats were below average. How can this be?
+ Q. Did You Know…?
Q. Can I get a Custom Crime Report for my business address?
A. Yes. You can generate an instant, objective Crime Risk Report for any address here: www.SecurityGauge.com. We have ground breaking address-specific crime data complete with detailed maps of crime risk around your address by crime type, and crime risk ratings specific to the exact address. All based on stunning 10-meter resolution crime data. Here is a sample report: www.securitygauge.com/sample/SecurityGaugeSampleReport.pdf
Q. Can I license your crime data via an API?
A. Yes. Please go to www.SecurityGauge.com to see our crime data products, including address-specific crime data that you can get via our API. We have hundreds of crime data elements that can be streamed to you via API. You can contact us right from the site to discuss your needs and have us open an API account for you.
Q. What do the blue colors on the State and City maps signify?
A. Every crime map on NeighborhoodScout shows the relative differences within a geographic area for crime risk – either within that state, or within that city. Dark blue colors indicate low crime risk relative to that city, while the lighter blue colors indicate high crime risk relative to that city.
*Because the maps are designed to illustrate the variation within the city or the state, the colors are not comparable between maps.*
To see the actual, absolute crime risks for a neighborhood, you must click on the map to open the neighborhood reports, where we reveal the detailed crime data (neighborhood crime data is reserved for subscribers).
Q. How current is your crime data?
A. NeighborhoodScout’s crime data are always the most recent 'Final, Non-Preliminary’ data available as classified by the FBI. It is the most up-to-date and fully-vetted data with complete national coverage that is available.
We insist on using Final, Non-Preliminary data for our analyses and analytics, rather than basing our research on preliminary data that may need to be updated or have errors in it.
Currently, the latest Final, Non-Preliminary crime data with complete national coverage available is the 2014 year total data, released in final form in November, 2015. At this time, the 2015 year total crime data is not complete. Because the FBI has to work through data and reporting issues, there is always an 8-10 month lag after the close of a calendar year before the data for that year can be released as Final, Non-Preliminary.
For instance, last year’s final, raw crime data will be released in the fall and processed, modeled and built into what you see on NeighborhoodScout within 60 days after its release.
The 2015 data will be considered Final, Non-Preliminary sometime in the fall of 2016.
As soon as fresh data is released, we re-run our analytics and update the crime reports for every neighborhood in the U.S. Until then, what we are using is the most recent Final Data with complete national coverage as per the FBI database.
Q. Where do you get your crime statistics?
A. To build our crime reports, we collect raw crime data from all 18,000 law enforcement agencies in the United States. We then assign these reported crimes from each of these law enforcement agencies to the specific local communities the agency covers, and hence in which community the crimes have occurred, using a custom built relational database built from the ground up.
This method provides a powerful, uniquely accurate accounting of the complete number and types of crimes that truly occur within any city or town, not just crimes reported by a single municipal agency.
Once we have this updated data set, we mine it and build upon it, producing sub-zip code crime hazard data and maps for violent crime, property crime, motor vehicle theft, crime density, and more.
We then research and develop mathematical algorithms to statistically estimate the incidences of both violent and property crimes for each neighborhood in America. The resultant formulae produce numbers of crimes and crime rates for neighborhoods with upwards of 90% accuracy in most cases. We deploy 80 proprietary formulas to increase the accuracy of our predictions, and apply them based on city or town characteristics, to produce the best crime risk information for every neighborhood in America. We also go extra lengths to produce address-specific crime risk data, available on www.SecurityGauge.com with custom heat maps at 10-meter resolution.
Q. What makes your methodology unique?
A. Thousands of cities nationwide - both large and small - have multiple agencies with law enforcement responsibility. These include municipal police, county sheriff, transit police, campus police, public school police, park and port police, tribal police, and more. Unlike other crime data providers, our exclusive analysis includes crimes reported by all of these agencies.
This method provides an accurate representation of the complete number and types of crimes that truly occur within any city or town, not just crimes reported by a single municipal agency.
Q. How do you define a neighborhood?
A. NeighborhoodScout uses census tracts as the basis for neighborhood boundaries and profile matches. Census tracts are small, relatively permanent subdivisions of a county that are defined by the U.S. Census Bureau. They usually have between 2,500 and 8,000 persons and are defined to contain areas with homogeneous population characteristics, including economic status, and living conditions. The extent of individual census tracts varies widely depending on the density of settlement.
Other sites tend to define neighborhood boundaries by zip codes, but zip code areas often include several census tracts, up to twenty different census tracts in some cases. When distinct census tracts are blended together into a larger zip code area, the data reflects their average conditions and often gives a false sense of the area. Using census tracts helps customers find the specific areas that are best for them and their families, and makes great matches possible.
Q. What is the Crime Index?
A. NeighborhoodScout’s Crime Index is a powerful, yet simple to understand crime rating on a 0-100 range where 100 is safest. The Index is based on the crime rate per 1,000 population for all crimes in the neighborhood or city. A Crime Index of 80 means a neighborhood is safer than 80% of the neighborhoods in America, and a 50 means the neighborhood is safer than 50% of the neighborhoods in America.
The data used for the NeighborhoodScout Crime Index are from the seven UCR crimes tracked by the FBI: Homicide, Rape, Armed Robbery, Aggravated Assault, Burglary, Larceny, and Motor Vehicle Theft. In order to compare statistical information on a national basis the FBI came up with a common definition for UCR crime comparison.
Q. How do you define crime rates in highly-touristed areas?
A. Crime rates can appear higher than expected if there are a lot of tourists (non-permanent residents) in your community, because the number of crimes (violent, property, or both) are divided by the permanent population, creating a crime rate per 1,000 residents. If there are a lot of visitors, these people can increase the number of crimes, but do not count in establishing the rate because they don't permanently reside there, thus increasing the crime rate per 1,000 residents. Therefore it is always valuable to look at both the crime rate, and the actual reported or estimated number of crime incidents in the neighborhood or community.
Q. How can I see the crime rates at the neighborhood level?
A. Click on the map to open the crime report for any neighborhood or city. Or, click on the name of a neighborhood in the list attached to the left side of the map. Crime ratings at the state and city level are free and open to the public, but neighborhood crime data is reserved for subscribers. Once you subscribe and sign in, all of the crime information at the neighborhood level will be unlocked. Go to www.neighborhoodscout.com/subscribe to subscribe.
Q. What crime data will be available to me once I subscribe?
A. All crime data at the neighborhood level will become available once you subscribe. For each neighborhood we provide the total crime index (nationally comparable), total crime rate per 1,000 neighborhood residents, violent crime rate per 1,000 neighborhood residents, property crime rate per 1,000 residents, crimes per square mile, a crime density index, and a resident's chance of becoming a victim of a violent or property crime if they live in the neighborhood for one year. We also have numbers of total crimes, violent crimes, and property crimes for each neighborhood in America. It is a very robust, unique set of data for every neighborhood in the United States. Here is a link to a sample: www.neighborhoodscout.com/popup/example-crime/
Q. How can a city have a high crime rating if all of its neighborhoods have very low crime ratings?
A. We rate every city based on a comparison to other cities nationwide. Likewise, we rate each neighborhood based on a comparison to other neighborhoods nationwide, of which there are an amazing 73,000 in the US.
So, even though a city may be rated higher for crime in comparison to every other city in the U.S., their respective neighborhoods may be significantly safer in comparison to other U.S. neighborhoods.
Note that you can always see the actual crime rates per 1,000 people who live in the city or neighborhood on the crime report tabs, for direct comparison.
Q. The map on the city page looks like it covers a broader area than the city. Does this mean the crimes used for this report come from a broader area than the city limits?
A. Our map may show census tracts (neighborhoods) assigned to a city for visual purposes, based on a spatial overlay of census tracts to municipal boundaries. Rest assured the data used for the development of these reports are the crimes that occurred within the city limits, along with the population of the city.
Q. Why rank cities on safety even though the FBI cautions against it?
A. This report and/or our data cannot and should not be used as a measure of the effectiveness of law enforcement due to the myriad factors that can contribute to crime in a community. Demographics, transience, household structure, education, poverty, and many other social and economic factors work in concert to create or mitigate criminal activity in any particular community. As such, NeighborhoodScout’s research on the safety of communities illuminates the relative crime risks of communities across America, but should not be used by public officials or members of the public or the media to evaluate or measure the effectiveness of local law enforcement.
NeighborhoodScout’s data and this research report is a fair and objective assessment of the crime risks and safety in a community, regardless of the variables that drive those risks. But these findings are silent on and should not be used to judge the effectiveness of local law enforcement. Regarding community safety from crime, the public has a right to know how dangerous or safe any city or community is, just like they have the right to know how safe a car is, regardless of what goes into making a car more or less safe. NeighborhoodScout supports public discourse on issues of crime and public safety, and we support the right of the public to know the true and objective facts that contribute to their safety from crime. We stand behind the accuracy of our data, and the findings of this report.
Q. Crime has been going down in a city, so how can it have a high crime rating?
A. Crime has recently been going down nationwide. If other areas have crime that is going down faster than another city, then that city will still show more crime. To put it simply, a city may be getting safer, but other cities may be getting safer – faster.
Q. I see crime data on a city’s website or the FBI’s website that is different than the data here. Why is that?
A. The data used here is the most recent ‘Final, non-preliminary’ data available at the time of the research. Sometimes a city law enforcement agency will post preliminary data to its website which would not match our data. Other times, cities only show year-to-date crimes, which by their nature, are only for a partial year. For example only January - September. Also, our data are for the city overall, not just for a single law enforcement agency in the city. FBI reporting is agency-focused and only shows crimes by agency. Similarly, individual city agencies will almost always show only the crimes from their single agency, not from all agencies that have law enforcement responsibility in the city. Our analysis includes all crimes reported by every agency in a city, and is therefore much more comprehensive.
Q. What are the definitions for each type of crime?
A. ARMED ROBBERY: The taking or attempting to take anything of value from a person(s) by force or threat of violence.
AGGRAVATED ASSAULT: An attack by one person upon another for the purpose of inflicting severe or aggravated bodily injury.
RAPE: All forms of non-consensual sexual penetration. This new expanded definition applies to data reported late 2014 and beyond.
HOMICIDE: The willful (nonnegligent) killing of one human being by another.
BURGLARY: The unlawful entry of a structure to commit a felony or theft.
THEFT (LARCENY-THEFT): The unlawful taking, carrying, leading, or riding away of property from the possession or constructive possession of another.
MOTOR VEHICLE THEFT: The theft or attempted theft of a motor vehicle. Does not include farm equipment, bulldozers, airplanes, construction equipment, or water craft.
Q. An area I just reviewed had violent crime stats that were above average, property crime stats that were well above average, but then the Crimes Per Square Mile stats were below average. How can this be?
A. Crime indices are based on anticipated crime rates per 1,000 population in a neighborhood. Crime density is based on anticipated number of crimes per square mile in the neighborhood. This is common in neighborhoods that have smaller populations, but quite a number of crimes per 1,000 neighborhood population. When those same crimes are looked at from a “crimes per square mile” perspective, the numbers are low because when computed, there are not many crimes per square mile, but many crimes per population.
Q. Did You Know…?
A. You can also search for the safest neighborhoods in any user-defined area by using the “Search” tab at the top of the page. Select “Crime Rates” from the drop-down menu and enter in a city, state and radius (or choose ‘nationwide’ or ‘statewide’). Narrow down your search by selecting your desired ‘Median House Value’ or ‘Setting’ from the Advanced Options below.