How to Interpret Community Crime Statistics

Community crime statistics can be an important factor when determining where to move or take an extended vacation. While crime statistics can reveal a lot about the community, it is important to keep a few different variables in mind when learning how to interpret that data. Just because one area has a higher crime rate, doesn't necessarily mean it's a less safe place to live. On the flip side, even an area with a low crime rate may be more dangerous for someone who partakes in various activities or lifestyles. The following are some of the factors that may have the most impact on variation in community crime statistics.

Area populations

Large populations have a lot more people, and therefore are more likely to have more crime. While the overall numbers of crimes in that area may appear daunting at best, keep in mind, what the numbers mean in terms of the overall population. On the same token, areas that have seen very fast growth in a short period may not have the proper law enforcement to handle the population load -- or, in large areas with low crime statistics, there is always the possibility that crimes are unreported.

Community makeup

Take a look at the types of activities popular in a given community. Is there a lively night life? Do many people enjoy outdoor recreation in remote areas? These may contribute to a higher crime rate, while not necessarily affecting people in their homes. Areas with a higher transient population are also more likely to have higher crime rates.

Variations in crime reports

Depending on the reporting agency, crime statistics may be categorized between misdemeanors, felonies, violent crime, etc. -- or they may not. An area that experiences higher percentages of crimes such as shoplifting, or teenagers running around with illicit drugs, may or may not be differentiated from one that experiences higher incidences of homicide, rape, and assault. Most reporting agencies will provide explanations of how they gather their data, which should help clarify how much the numbers indicated might affect you and your family in that community.

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