Last week I posted a summary of the Chicago neighborhoods with the highest incidence of murder over the last 12 months. However, what people really want to know is which are Chicago's safest and most dangerous neighborhoods and knowing where the murders are taking place really doesn't help you answer that question. Although Chicago has an especially large number of murders each year people are much more likely to be the victims of some kind of violent crime and that's what everyone is really worried about.
Unfortunately, it's not easy to definitively identify a Chicago neighborhood as either dangerous or safe. Every neighborhood has some level of crime so what's the cutoff? And even within a single neighborhood there are areas that have a higher level of crime than others. And, generally speaking, higher population neighborhoods are going to tend to have more crime than lower population areas.
So what I do is try to provide some relevant data that people can use to make their own determinations on which neighborhoods they believe are safe or dangerous. Every year around this time I take a look at aggravated assault and battery incidents across the city over a 12 month period ending on June 30 and summarize the data by neighborhood and also map it out.
I focus on "aggravated" assault and battery because it indicates such things as a more serious level of intent, the use of a weapon, the status of the victim, or the injury caused. But this definition does leave out violent crimes such as rape, robbery, and theft but including all that stuff would produce an overwhelming mountain of data. Also, note that I have left out domestic incidents, which account for around 29% of all cases of aggravated assault and battery. When people are trying to determine if a neighborhood is safe or dangerous they are not thinking about domestic incidents so it doesn't make sense to include them for this purpose.
Once again the number of these violent crimes is surprisingly consistent with previous years. I pulled a total of 10,569 incidents for the last 12 months compared to 10,650 last year and last year was pretty consistent with previous years. In the graph below I summarize the number of these crimes by neighborhood (more precisely community area) in terms of incidents per 100,000 residents and the pattern is generally similar to what we've seen in previous years. You'll want to click on the graph inside the window in order to see a more legible version.
Compared to last year the following community areas saw a 20% or greater reduction in their rate of aggravated assault and battery:
- Norwood Park
- North Center
- West Town
- South Chicago
- Fuller Park
- Portage Park
And the following community areas saw a 20% or greater increase in their rates:
- South Deering
- Irving Park
- McKinley Park
- Morgan Park
- Forest Glen
In fact, Burnside had a 125% increase in incidents from last year but with an extremely small population it's extremely sensitive to changes in the number of incidents.
Map Of Aggravated Assaults & Batteries In Chicago
Of course, when you aggregate data like that you lose a lot of information. Knowing the incidence of violent crime in a particular neighborhood doesn't tell you where in the neighborhood the crime tends to happen. That's why I like to map all the incidents.
The map below is interactive. You can pan and zoom, share it, expand it to a full screen, and if you click on an individual balloon it will give you a few more pieces of information about the specific incidence. There's a ton of data on that map so give it time to respond to your commands.
Certain patterns are always apparent. For instance busy streets/ high traffic areas tend to have more crime than side streets. More targets? More random interactions that lead to altercations? Hard to say. But one thing is clear. The concentrations change block by block.
Gary Lucido is the President of Lucid Realty, the Chicago area's full service real estate brokerage that offers home buyer rebates and discount commissions. If you want to keep up to date on the Chicago real estate market or get an insider's view of the seamy underbelly of the real estate industry you can Subscribe to Getting Real by Email using the form below. Please be sure to verify your email address when you receive the verification notice.