Every so often, I’ll be showing property in an area that doesn’t look all that great. The buyers inevitably will ask “Is there much crime in this neighborhood?” Although I have friends in both the Sunnyvale and Mountain View police departments, I don’t have actual knowledge of crime stats for any of the neighborhoods that I sell. Rather then make something up (you’d be surprised how many agents blow off the question by stating “I’m not aware of any crime here”), I refer the potential buyer to the appropriate police department. At least for some of the areas I sell, this information can now be found online at CrimeReports.com.
According to their website:
“The CrimeReports.com service provides law enforcement agencies with an affordable and easy-to-use Web-based service for managing and controlling the sharing of crime data with the public, in near real-time. Community members can then access their neighborhood crime information for free, empowering them to make informed decisions to help improve the safety of their families, friends, property and the community at large.”
In California, currently only four police departments have provided information to be posted on CrimeReports.com. They are the Los Gatos/Monte Sereno police department, the Fremont police department, the Palo Alto police department and the San Jose police department. Since I once lived in West San Jose, I ran a search using the address of a home I owned in the Strawberry Park subdivision located near Saratoga Avenue and highway 280.
I first entered the type of crime I wanted to search for. The type of crimes one can search for range from quality of life crimes like drunken disorder and traffic stops to violent crimes like robbery, burglary and homicide. I chose to check and see if crimes like vehicle theft, burglary and homicide have occurred. I set the date parameters for my search at 14 days and came up with the following results:
According to the results, my old neighborhood had one “theft” crime reported within the last 14 days and it occurred on the 700th block of Saratoga Avenue. Within about 1 mile radius of the property, there were a dozen or so crimes reported and most of them were property thefts. I ran another search going back six months and the grid lit up like a Christmas tree. The good thing is that most of the crimes were against property not people. The bad thing is I had no idea whether my old neighborhood had a lot of crime.
I had no base line to differentiate between what was a high crime neighborhood and what was not. So I compared my search data with that of a neighborhood that I knew had a reputation as being a high crime neighborhood. The results of the search made me feel a lot better about my old neighborhood. Given that I lived in Strawberry Park for almost 10 years without any concerns, I knew first hand how safe it was and still is.
There is an interesting statistic bar above the map that tells how many total crimes occurred as compared with the parameters the user has set up. For example, I searched for violent crimes and came up with 15 violent crimes out of a total of 159 crimes (see below).
According to the stat bar, between 2/23/08 and 2/25/08, there were 159 crimes committed and of these, 15 were of the violent category.
In an effort to protect the victims, CrimeReports.com lists only the block on which the crime occurred, not the actual address. Although listed as a search category, CrimeReports.com currently does not post information about California sex offenders on its website. Yet other states do. I wonder why? Lastly, CrimeReports.com is only available in 15 states and only in a few cities within these states. There is an area on the website where you can invite your local police department to participate. If your city is not represented and you feel this service might be beneficial, you can contact your police department through CrimeReports.com and it might become a city that will post its data online.