First, a caveat

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Make sure any reports you make about safety or crime in your neighborhood are done with care and critical thought. Be wary of spreading disinformation, especially when it involves racially profiling or stereotyping individuals you may not recognize.

Creating safer neighborhoods means they have to be safer for everyone. With the wrong intentions, these tools can serve to divide rather than protect communities. When you identify issues, do your best to supply solutions as well.

1. AreaVibes

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At a glance

AreaVibes helps you find the best place to live based on a unique algorithm that assesses several factors that make a neighborhood desirable.

How it works

The site has a search bar where you can type in an address, city, state or ZIP code and it will instantly provide you with a score out of 100 on AreaVibes’ Livability Score.

In coming up with a neighborhood’s score, AreaVibes considers amenities, cost of living, crime, employment, housing, schools and input from residents.

Once the search is complete, the site will also provide a list of nearby neighborhoods and cities ranked by their Livability Scores. You can even further customize that list to include the metric that is most important to you — including crime.

Unique feature

The custom search function is AreaVibes’ unique feature. It allows you to sort potential locations by the livability factors that matter to you. Using this tool, you can quickly and easily compare the crime activity in several cities at once.

The site even breaks crime down by type, the number of reported incidents and the amount of crime per 100,000 people. And based on the area’s crime statistics, AreaVibes can tell you how the neighborhood stacks up against state and national crime rates.

Cost

AreaVibes is free for all users.

2. The Neighbors App

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At a glance

The Neighbors App by Ring was created by the company that produces Ring alarm home security system. This app serves as an online neighborhood watch program.

How it works

Even if you don’t have one of the company’s digital doorbells, you can download Ring’s free app to receive real-time crime and safety alerts from both your neighbors and public safety agencies.

The app draws on reports from people in your neighborhood as well as local law enforcement. You can also anonymously submit your own tips about everything from stolen packages to lost dogs.

Use with caution

Both the Neighbors App and Ring have controversial partnerships with police agencies. Parent company Amazon is alleged to have allowed hundreds of police forces to push out emergency information through the app, but also to collect user activity from it.

As with most products of this nature, you will give up a certain amount of privacy. But Ring has emphasized that police cannot access videos and information from the app without explicit permission from the user. It’s up to the user to determine what level of privacy they require from products like Ring.

Price

The app itself is free, but the Ring doorbell starts at $99.

3. NeighborhoodScout

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At a glance

NeighborhoodScout allows you to search for crime statistics by state, city, address or ZIP code to help decide if a neighborhood is right for you.

How it works

This site allows you to compare neighborhoods based on their overall crime rate as well as violent crime and property crime rates. You can then compare your neighborhood’s crime rate to the rates in other cities or at the state or national level.

This system can even tell you how likely you are to become a victim of crime in your neighborhood and compare it to the odds across your entire city and state.

Unique feature

With NeighborhoodScout, you can create a custom search to find a new neighborhood. All you’ll have to do is identify a community that meets your standards and the system will generate a list of comparable neighborhoods in your desired state.

Cost

You can use some of the site’s search functions for free, but it’ll cost you to generate a detailed report. NeighborhoodScout offers a flat fee of $29.99 per report or $39.99/month for a subscription.

4. Family Watchdog

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At a glance

Family Watchdog is a free service that helps locate registered sex offenders in your neigbhorhood.

How it works

Using the site’s search bar, you can look for registered sex offenders near certain locations or addresses. Based on its results, Family Watchdog will generate a map of all the nearby registered offenders.

The maps use color-coded icons to indicate which sex crime the offender has committed, including those against children, rape or sexual battery. Clicking on the icon will allow you to see a photo of the offender and learn personal details such as any aliases they use and the sex crimes they’ve been convicted of.

You can even search for specific individuals by name.

Unique feature

Family Watchdog also offers a subscription service that will provide you with either email or text alerts when a registered sex offender moves in or out of your neighborhood. Included in this online membership is a monthly newsletter with personal safety tips and facts about sexual abuse.

Cost

There’s no cost for a general search, but if you want detailed background reports on specific offenders, Family Watchdog will direct you to an off-site subscription service.

5. City Protect (formerly CrimeReports)

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At a glance

City Protect maps crime data provided by more than 1,000 participating law enforcement agencies.

How it works

The website automatically generates a map that you can search by region, address, ZIP code or law enforcement agency to see reports of recent police activity.

Searches can be limited to specific neighborhoods to find the crimes being committed in your area. Clicking on an icon will provide you with all the incident details, including what type of crime was committed and where, when and at what time it took place.

You can further filter your search to narrow down results to a date range, day of the week, time of day or incident type.

Unique feature

City Protect also allows you to sign up for periodic crime alerts, submit anonymous tips to its member police agencies or register your home security camera.

Cost

City Protect is a free site.

6. SpotCrime

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At a glance

SpotCrime is a public-facing crime map and crime alert service that delivers crime alerts by email or over social media platforms.

How it works

The website collects data from police agencies and validated sources to generate points on a Google map. Crimes are then represented by icons, which you can click on to view what crime took place, when and where and the source information (typically the law enforcement agency that handled the incident).

SpotCrime also provides crime trends analysis by neighborhood, allowing you to search for relevant crimes near any address.

Unique feature

SpotCrime’s search function is very user friendly and its icons are straightforward and highly visual. While it doesn’t have as many features as some of the other options, it’s still an excellent site to get a quick view of the crime in your neighborhood or anonymously report a crime tip.

Cost

There’s no charge to use SpotCrime.

How to make a safe home anywhere

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Whatever the crime statistics in your area, there are plenty of steps to make your neighborhood feel safe.

  • Get to know your neighbors. You can keep an eye out for each other and help spread the word when certain crimes are on the rise.
  • Get involved in local crime prevention organizations. Join your local neighborhood watch or patrol. Increased attention in neighborhoods is often enough of a deterrent for potential thieves.
  • There’s also Project Safe Neighborhoods, a nationwide initiative led by the United States Department of Justice bringing together federal, state and local law enforcement, prosecutors and community leaders to identify and address the most pressing violent crime problems in communities across the country.
  • Install a security system. If your safety concerns outweigh your privacy concerns, this is a great way of ensuring your home is safe even when you’re not there.
  • Watch the crime data. Using one or all of the above resources, you can track trends and figure out how to spot the signs of impending crime.

About the Author

Sigrid Forberg

Sigrid Forberg

Staff Writer

Sigrid is a staff writer with MoneyWise. Before joining the team, she worked for a B2B publication in the hardware and home improvement industry and ran an internal employee magazine for the federal government. As a graduate of the Carleton University Journalism program, she takes pride in telling informative, engaging and compelling stories.

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