There are many factors to consider when buying a house. One of those is local crime statistics. This isn’t a factor that many people consider, but its one they should.
Speaking from past experience, living in an area where crime is common, is very uncomfortable. I came home from work one day to find my possessions strewn all over the house as though a tornado had been through it. A window was broken, we had lost money and jewelery and our dog was cowering in a corner with her tail between her legs.
As a husband and father, this was very stressful, because I was unable to protect my family. I took the next couple of days off work, bought and installed an alarm system. That was the easy part. The Police told me that the likelihood of catching the people who broke into our house was very slim and left me to clean the fingerprint dust off the window-sills and furniture.
We had insurance, but the toughest part is being afraid to leave the house in case it happened again, especially if we wanted to go somewhere for a weekend or longer. Your home is your castle and having it violated is stressful.
Of course crime happens in any area, but generally Police will tell you that a lot of the people who commit burglaries and home invasions live in the area where they commit the crimes. Obviously this means they have more opportunity to monitor their neighborhood if they are locals themselves.
In the USA there are a number of websites where you can go and see what crimes are occurring. In this map from Spot Crime, of Madison, WI, you can see that crimes appear in clusters. You can select any area you are interested in and see what is gong on. You can click on one of the icons to get more details. You can even subscribe to alerts for an area.
Chances are that there are similar maps for the part of the world you live in. A site in the UK for example allows you to get similar information. When I searched for Brighton, I was amazed to find that in June 2013 there were 1,465 crimes reported within 1 mile of the center of town!
This site also offers a free iPad app with location based elements. That means that if you are out and about looking at properties for sale, you can actually check on the crime statistics on a map nearby based on your current GPS location.
Australians aren’t left out either. This site provides heat maps for different types of crime in New South Wales. It also provides a ratio of the type of crime to the population. There were definitely some surprises there for me.
You will find these types of site all over the world. This one is in the Netherlands and the highlighted image shows an incident where a criminal knocked on an elderly woman’s apartment door and told her that someone had broken into an apartment downstairs, as a ruse to get into her apartment.
As with other elements of buying a house, an ounce of preparation can save a pound of anguish later. It’s not about being paranoid, its about being prepared.