By Leonard A. Sipes, Jr.
Thirty-five years of supervising public affairs for national and state criminal justice agencies. Former Senior Specialist for Crime Prevention for the Department of Justice’s clearinghouse. Former Director of Information Management for the National Crime Prevention Council. Post Master’s degree-Johns Hopkins University.
The list below offers the most dangerous places for violent crime in the United States in 2015. It’s presented by the FBI and their National Incident-Based Reporting System.The National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) is an effort on the part of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to collect better, higher quality data than the current Uniform Crime Reports (UCR), the report that tells us whether crime has increased or decreased.
Note that the data is based on crimes reported to police, not a measure of all crime. Approximately half of violent crimes are reported to police per the National Crime Victimization Survey.
Reasons for Criminal Activity
The list is both surprising and expected. The number one ranking for homes is an acknowledgment that most violent crime takes place among people who know each other. The other locations indicate the volume of people using that area or gathering points for younger people (i.e., schools) who traditionally have the highest rates of crime. The larger the number of people, the higher the risk for criminal activity.
People are always safer when they have control over an area, referred to by criminologists as, “informal social control.” When interacting with large numbers of strangers, your chances for stranger-related crime go up. This is especially true when people are preoccupied (i.e., looking for their cars in parking lots and garages). Anywhere alcohol is served, caution needs to be exercised.
Some of the locations make sense like the very low rates of crime for military installations and some don’t, like shopping malls which have been associated with criminal activity through other sources.
Within the crime prevention literature (see link below) much emphasis is placed on the opportunities people present. Victims inadvertently participate in their own victimizations. It’s up to us to be very aware of our surroundings and who we interact with and where we choose to go.
Most violent crimes can be prevented by traveling and being with others, and being very aware of your surroundings. If you see anything that makes you uncomfortable, leave and report the activity to police. As to non-stranger violent crimes, who you let in your home or who’s home you choose to go into can make a difference. Anyplace that serves alcohol needs extra vigilance.
For a complete overview of personal and family crime prevention, see Crime Prevention-Crime in America.
For a list of the most dangerous cities, see http://www.crimeinamerica.net/city-crime-rates-top-ten-cities/.
Where the Data Comes From
The FBI released details on more than 5.6 million criminal offenses reported via the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) for 2015. The report includes what the bureau calls “a diverse range of information about victims, known offenders, and relationships for 23 offense categories comprised of 49 offenses.” It also includes arrest data for those offense categories plus 10 more offenses for which only arrest data are collected. NIBRS currently is used by 36 percent of law enforcement agencies that take part in the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting program.
Because it offers a better picture of crime, NIBRS is supposed to replace the UCR (the current reporting program) by 2021. FBI.gov
The top ten locations for violent crime in America are:
- Residence/Home-Not surprising due to most violent crimes being committed by someone you know.
- Highway/Road/Alley/Street/Sidewalk-Where most people are beyond their homes. Strangers accepted as inevitable.
- Parking Lot/Garage-Always considered a place of risk due to lots of people and hiding places. People do not take stock of their surroundings when seeking their vehicles.
- School-Elementary/Secondary-Younger people have the highest risk of criminal victimization; locations where they gather will always be places of concern.
- Bar/Nightclub-Alcohol is strongly connected to violent crime. Traditionally, alcohol is more dangerous than drug use due to the volume of people consuming.
- Hotel/Motels-Like parking lots and garages, people are often preoccupied. Strangers are accepted as inevitable.
- Restaurants-A mix of alcohol, preoccupation, and lots of people.
- Drug Store/Doctor’s Office/Hospital-Massive numbers of people with other things on their mind than criminal activity.
- Jail/Prison-It’s interesting that correctional facilities are safer than being in your house or being on the street. Most criminal activity, however, is not reported.
- School-Colleges-Places where the demographic with the highest crime rates gather. Note that universities are not included; they are listed separately.
Rounding out the list with double-digit numbers are Convenience Stores (known to law enforcement as “stop and robs)” and Commercial Office Buildings. There is a category titled Government/Public Buildings which includes jail/prisons thus it’s not meaningful for comparison purposes.
See list below.
Crime in America at http://crimeinamerica.net
My book: “Amazon Hot New Release”- “A Must Have Book,” Success With The Media: Everything You Need To Survive Reporters and Your Organization available at Amazon