Every year we see lists and data come out that tell us which cities have the worst rates of crime in the country. Unfortunately, many of the same cities make these lists each year. Although you can’t base your judgment of these cities solely on statistics, it is still important to know what risks you might face in certain places around the country.
Detroit is one of those cities that lands at the top of high crime places every year. Unable to shake the No. 1 spot for the past few years, the communities of Detroit face an unfortunate growing reputation as dangerous and crime ridden. When the U.S. faced an economic downturn, Detroit was one of the hardest-hit areas in the country. Countless jobs and homes were lost, many communities dealt with social and economic devastation. This created a climate of high violent crime rates. However, while many areas of the city still face incredible hardship and the rate of violent crimes is still five times the national average, the city as a whole has taken a turn for the better. According to Forbes, Detroit’s finances and crime statistics have improved rapidly over the past few years and many neighborhoods and businesses are rebuilding.
Security Tip: Installing floodlights around your home is a low-cost solution to help prevent break-ins. However, leaving a light on outside all the time can be a cue to burglars that you are away, so install motion sensors or a timer to have your lights on only after dark.
A city known for its rich jazz and blues culture, Memphis also faces one of the biggest crime problems in the country. Unlike many cities that have seen an improvement in crime rates, Memphis has actually experienced a 5 percent increase in all types of violent crimes since 2014, according to Law Street Media. This includes the most murders the city has seen in eight years. As with many cities with high crime rates, Memphis communities deal with higher levels of poverty and unemployment and has seen economic hardships across the board.
Security Tip: Download personal security apps on your phone and encourage your children and family to do the same. Apps like bSafe let you send an alert to friends or family when you reach your destination or use GPS if your location changes. It can also set off a loud alarm if you are in a dangerous situation. Another app called SafeTrek is a good tool to use if you feel unsafe, such as walking alone at night. You keep your finger on the safe button and if you take it off you are asked for a 4-digit code, if you don’t enter it, police are notified of your location.
Many people think of cities such as Birmingham as being quiet southern communities, but the poor socioeconomic state in this city has created an unstable environment for criminal activity. Again, high unemployment rates and poverty levels have a major impact of Birmingham’s communities as well as a lack of quality education. According to 24/7 Wall Street, the poverty level for Birmingham was almost 31 percent in 2013, which is twice that of the national average.
Security Tip: Even if you have an alarm system, another good way to keep your home and neighborhood secure is by installing a home security system. Many models, such as some Lorex cameras, have an option to connect to your mobile device so you can check on your home from anywhere.
Oakland is almost always mentioned in lists of dangerous U.S. cities. However, this northern California metropolis has seen a recent decline in violent crime of almost 15 percent, according to MSN. It has also had a decrease in robberies of around 30 percent in 2014. This rapid improvement has moved Oakland down in the list of most dangerous cities, but it still has a long way to go to lower its crime rate to below the national average.
Security Tip: A common situation for crime victims is if their car breaks down or they are stranded somewhere unfamiliar. According to the U.S. Department of State, if your car breaks down, try to find a well-lit and populated area to pull over. Call for help immediately and raise your hood if you need assistance. However, don’t accept help from someone you don’t know.
Saint Louis, Missouri
St. Louis has been dealing with high crime for several years but, unlike Oakland and some other cities, has actually been dealing with an increase in violent crimes. According to Fox News in St. Louis, there were 88.1 violent crimes per 100,000 residents in 2015. Unfortunately, the poor socioeconomic pattern of unemployment spikes, rising poverty levels and dwindling education has a major impact on the rates of crime many neighborhoods face.
Security Tip: Never post personal information like your address, phone number, children’s school or dates you will be out of town online. According to Network World, even seemingly harmless information sharing can help a criminal learn about your daily habits and location over time. Be mindful of what you share and who you share it with.
While you should always stay informed of information like this, it is also important to remember that these cities and communities also have a lot to offer and can be wonderful places to visit and live. Whether you live in a city deemed “dangerous” or not, you should always protect your home with high-quality security cameras, locks, alarms and talk to your family about being responsible and staying safe.