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Published: Apr 18, 2024 7 min read

Being aware of the crime trends where you live can mean the difference between successfully or unsuccessfully preventing or managing incidents if they happen in your home, as well as deciding on moving into a community or not. It can also help you determine if you need a security system and the type that would be most appropriate for your home.

Read our guide to learn how to check crime rates in your area, as well as the different types of resources you can access to help you get a sense of how safe your community is. And if it turns out the area has concerning levels of criminal activity and you feel like you need an added layer of protection, check out our picks for best home security systems, including providers such as ADT, Ring and more.

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Government resources

Law enforcement agencies across the country, whether at the national, state or local level, must provide the public and each other with data regarding the crimes reported to and addressed by them. Some agencies, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation and many police departments, compile this data and feature it on their websites for easy access from the public and other law enforcement authorities. We list some of these websites below.

FBI Crime Data Explorer (CDE)

The FBI features a crime data explorer on its website. This tool contains crime and law enforcement statistics based on data collected as part of the agency’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program (UCR). With it, users can research crime statistics nationally, federally or at state level by year.

Users can also input the agency from which they want to obtain data, which can range from a specific county’s police department to a federal agency. This allows you to search for data from your local authorities if they have submitted reports to the UCR. Moreover, users can choose the type of crime they want information about, which are classified under violent crime, individual offenses or property crimes. Some filterable categories within the crime explorer that might interest prospective homebuyers and seasoned homeowners include:

  • Hate crimes
  • Homicide
  • Arson
  • Burglary
  • Motor vehicle theft
  • Robbery
  • Larceny
  • Stolen property offenses
  • Assault
  • Animal cruelty
  • Human trafficking
  • Weapon law violations
  • Drug/narcotics violations

The crime explorer also presents a great deal of information pertaining to each type of crime, including offender and victim demographics, the crime’s location, specific offense characteristics, and more.

Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW)

The Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender website includes registries for all U.S. states and territories, as well as federally recognized Native American tribes. It was established in 2005 under another name — the National Sex Offender Public Registry (NSOPR) — and is the only government website that currently features all registries (public, state, territorial and tribal) in the same place.

Though it doesn’t provide users with a summary of the sexual crimes committed in a certain area, it does list all registered sex offenders in that area. And because most offenders go back to their communities after they’ve been convicted of a sex crime, it’s worth looking into before buying a home and thereafter.

State and city police departments

Another official resource you can check out are the websites for your state and city police departments. However, in contrast with the data you would access with the FBI’s crime explorer tool, the available information will not be as thorough because it won’t be coming from multiple agencies.

Community and independent resources

Crime data provided by law enforcement agencies can be complex and sometimes difficult to navigate. Because of this, some people prefer to consult more straight-to-the-point, local sources. Below we list some of the crime rate resources that are operated and maintained by members of certain communities and independent agents.

Neighborhood Watch

The role of the National Neighborhood Watch organization is to foster safer neighborhoods by providing communities with information and resources to help prevent crime. Individual Neighborhood Watch groups are established and run by members of a community that wish to contribute to making it safer. These groups report all suspicious activity they identify in their neighborhoods to local law enforcement agencies and work to deter crime within their communities.

Neighborhood Watch groups also often collaborate with local police departments for things like training, patrolling, discussing specific community safety concerns, and more. And since these groups are meant to report crime within their communities and are more familiarized with issues law enforcement might not concern themselves with, your neighborhood’s group might be a good source to consult regarding the crime trends closest to you.

Online crime maps

Online crime maps like CityProtect, SpotCrime and CrimeMapping function as data aggregators. These platforms take crime data from sources such as verified news, reports from police departments and other law enforcement agencies, home security system alarms and more, and then present it using Google maps or other mapping platforms. Although they’re not meant to be an official statistical measure of crime, they can still provide useful information about the trends in your area or an area close to you.

Social media neighborhood groups

Many neighborhoods all over the country have active social media accounts with the purpose of keeping their residents informed. They might not offer crime statistics, but residents will often post about neighborhood crimes and incidents to let others know they should be careful. These can include popular platforms like Facebook and Reddit to niche ones such as Nextdoor.

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How to find crime rates in an area FAQs

Are crime maps reliable?

How reliable a crime map is will depend on how the platform presents its data and on the reliability of its sources. The most trustworthy crime maps rely on official and verified sources such as police reports.

How can I check crime rates in my community?

If you wish to learn more about crime rates and trends in your specific area, you have a couple of options. You can consult official government and law enforcement agency websites, online crime maps, and your community’s social media accounts.

What is the best resource to check crime incidents?

That will depend on what you’re looking for. If you want to know the explicit details of a crime within your community, you will need to consult an official law enforcement or government agency. If you just want to know which areas within your neighborhood you should avoid while strolling, social media groups and crime maps should do.

Summary of Money’s Guide on How To Check Crime Rates in an Area

  • Potential homebuyers and homeowners alike should regularly consult crime statistics and trends in their communities.
  • There are many crime rate and statistics resources available to the public, including official government and law enforcement websites, as well as community-led and managed initiatives.
  • Agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation provide extensive amounts of crime data to the public.
  • Local police departments can provide data specific to your state, city and even your county.
  • Neighborhood social media accounts, neighborhood watch groups and online crime maps are also good sources to consult information about crimes in a specific area.