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If you asked a resident of Los Angeles whether or not they felt safe in their home or in their neighborhood, what kind of responses do you think you would get?
By sheer coincidence, I recently saw the movie “Hollywood Homicide,” which opened with the brutal slaying of several members of an up and coming rap group and includes several gunfire exchanges in crowded public areas, including the subway and during a car chase through the Los Angeles city streets.
With all the films in town that run along the same lines, L.A. must be a very violent place. It might even be as violent as New York City, for example, which must be the most commonly named crime-riddled city in the country.
Now what if I told you that neither answers A or B were accurate. In point of fact, Los Angeles is not among the top 100 most crime-plagued cities in the country and that New York City isn’t in the top 100, either.
Yes, this makes little sense if you get all your crime statistics at the cineplex. It turns out that, while production studios churn out movies left and right in Los Angeles and New York out of sheer convenience, there are hardly any movies filmed in the violent crime capital of the country, which happens to be Camden, New Jersey.
In fact, says the Web site NeighborhoodScout, when it comes to violent crime per ca pita – which means the number of murders, forcible rapes, armed robberies and aggravated assaults reported to the FBI per 1,000 residents of each location–there were many surprises. Neither Boston or Chicago made the top 100, either. Instead, cities in the country’s heartland, which are rumored to be steady and affluent, did make the list, including Kansas City, Buffalo, Indianapolis, Oklahoma City and Minneapolis.
The top 10: Camden, N.J., followed by Chester, PA, Detroit, MI, Saginaw, MI, Oakland, CA, Bessemer, AL, Flint, MI, Atlantic City, NJ, Wilmington, DE, and Memphis, TN.
Does this mean you can leave your homes unlocked in LA or New York?
That doesn’t seem likely.
It still pays to be safe. Of the utmost concern remains the socio-economic status of the neighborhood where you live. Big cities still have high crime districts and low or lower crime districts. And, of course, even small cities have areas with better statistics than others.
This leads us to the No. 1 crime-prevention or crime-fighting tool in the United States and probably the world and the simple truth is that you probably already own one.
To be cute about it, the No. 1 most universal piece of crime-prevention equipment is probably your front door – one with a lock. But the new gadget that is also widespread is simply the computer.
A computer or a smart phone may be your best ally simply because you can run to the Internet and actually look at neighborhood to neighborhood statistics on crime. There are variables related to income and family needs, of course, but the truth is, you can find crime data online that simply tells you where not to move.
NeighborhoodScout is just one of the tools online, one that happens to track crime data, provide information on schools and give simple descriptions of each city. Where I live, for example, it is 82.2 percent hip and trendy, 68 percent urban sophisticates. It rates 44.7 percent on the walkable scale (which judges if you can walk to work) and 26.6 percent on quiet.
That sounds like we’re loud and young. And that is true. Only 9.8 percent of the Ithacan are 65 or older (I’m getting close) and 39.9 percent are single, never married.
If staying away from crime is the No. 1 strategy, let’s call the locked front door No. 2. After that are a wide variety of crime prevention strategies that also revolve around modern technology.
Just for comparison reasons, let’s just admit that 30 to 50 years ago and back through the ages until the dawn of man, the third most valuable bit of crime prevention equipment had a wet nose, four feet and a tail. But now we’re a little more sophisticated than that.
Nowadays, with a smart-phone in your hand, you can turn your home’s thermostat up and down, cranking up the heat from long distances if a weather report says temperatures are dropping in your home town. You can also lock electronic doors, open or close the garage door and you can even turn the lights on and take a look around the place.
Full security operations can provide some very slick options. Full information is readily available at http://www.securitychoice.net/home-security-systems/California/Los-Angeles/ and other Web sites dealing with a wide range of security options.
The Internet, of course, is the new data highway, through which information on motion detectors or footage from security cameras can travel around the world. If your home is in Be Air – or anywhere else – and you happen to be on a cruise in the Caribbean, you can still keep an eye on your home. You can turn down the heat, activate motion sensors, lock and unlock doors.
The old adage is that nothing is fool-proof or burglar-proof. But the new truth is that insurance companies often have homeowner policies that give discounts if you add security measures, so that electronic security can pay for itself. The hardware and installation are relatively cheap and the ongoing service worth the price if you would have otherwise been paying a higher insurance premium, anyway.