Crime doesn't pay... but apparently, monitoring crime for homeowners and home buyers does.
A new American website, Neighborhood Scout describes itself as a "patented search engine" that uses crime statistics to build neighbourhood profiles. The site charges users for "exclusive" neighbourhood estimates for violent crime, property crime, total crime, your chances of becoming a victim of violent or property crime, crime score index by neighborhood, and crimes per square mile for each neighborhood. (The site also sells subscriptions to information on school ratings and home appreciation rates.)
Be a Crime Reporter, Add to your Facebook
Another US-based site - this one including 9 major Canadian cities - offers the same concept, only for free. SpotCrime - Know your Neighborhood offers local maps you can view in Google Earth, Google Maps, add to your Facebook page, as well as daily crime e-mail or cell phone alerts, and the ability to become an online 'crime reporter' for your city.
The Canadian content of SpotCrime shows exact street locations in Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton, Hamilton, London, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, and Winnipeg where recent thefts, robberies, assaults, arson, shootings, vandalism, and arrests have occurred.
Safety on the "Must-Have" House Buying List
Personal safety is certainly a factor in the first-home hunt by YourHome.ca editor Jennifer Wilson-Speedy. She writes that she and her husband "found that our list of priorities was actually pretty small - basically, we wanted something with two or more bedrooms in a safe neighbourhood close to the subway" (everything else being on the 'nice-to-have' list).
Jennifer and her husband were looking in Toronto - where the violent crime severity index dropped 6% in 2008 and was about 30% lower than the national index, according to recent Statistics Canada data based on police-reported crime.
Crime severity was down in virtually all provinces last year, with the largest decline reported in Manitoba (14%). Other highlights from the data include:
- Winnipeg, St. John's, Regina, Saskatoon, Moncton and Saguenay all reported declines of at least 10% in crime severity.
- The only three areas to report an increase in crime severity were Trois-Rivières (+14%), Peterborough (+7%) and Sherbrooke (+3%).
- The highest police-reported crime severity indexes in 2008 were all found in western cities: Highest in Regina, followed by Abbotsford-Mission, Saskatoon, Kelowna, Winnipeg, Edmonton and Vancouver.
- Among central and eastern metropolitan areas, only Thunder Bay, Brantford, Saint John, Halifax and Montréal reported index values above the national average.
- Crime was least severe in Guelph, followed by Saguenay, Barrie, Québec and Toronto.
- The robbery rate in Canada has been gradually decreasing over the past decade, with a further 7% decline in 2008.
- About 15% of robberies involved a firearm. Robberies committed with a firearm remained stable in 2008 after reaching a 30-year low in 2007.
When you are buying a home in the city or area of your choice, do crime statistics enter into your decision making process?
Leave your thoughts below.