How to Research Crime in Neighborhoods Online - Indiana

8 Replies

I am an out of state buy and hold investor who buys in Indiana , and I just realized the Indiana Regional MLS has stopped listing crime statistics by city and neighborhood in the "community reports" section of the MLS listing. Is there another good way to research crime in different neighborhoods ? I always have a realtor check out the properties in person before I bid on anything, but I like to do online research as well. Zillow has some general information but it includes an entire zip code in one category. Any replies would be appreciated!

The websites listed by @Ernesto Hernandez and @Lydia S. are always where I start and I use and as well. You do have to know the difference between types of crime though. If you're looking at Indianapolis, look for the blog on "Grading Indianapolis Neighborhoods" as it has a color coded map that may help.

The "war zones" that I am hesitant of right now are:

  • Anywhere on N Sherman Dr and 3-4 blocks east and west... The gentrification along rural has pushed a lot of the problems out to Sherman and compressed issues from various areas. We see shootings, sexual assaults, home invasions, car thefts, etc. in this area.
  • Southern Lawrence Township. Locally, it's usually referred to as 42nd and Post Rd. There are several problematic apartments in the area that are rife with gang activities. Violent crimes, black market enterprise, etc. The actual area that I'm very hesitant to be in is the rectangle bounded by 42nd St, 38th St, Post Rd, and Mitthoefer Rd.

Being in the Downtown/Urban Core can be misleading though. The more urban the area, the more likely that there will be some kind of crime, but it doesn't make people stop living downtown. Just because a drunk throws a beer bottle at a car it doesn't make it a warzone.

There are also areas with lots of blighted homes and streets as well. These are really tough to get any tenants in right now, much less good ones. Many of these homes are held by the city because they can't even sell them at the tax auction. You can see the inventory here... Anywhere that there is a large amount of homes is still a heavily distressed area. There are some ongoing initiatives by the city that is trying to tackle some of these areas, but when a wholesaler says "up and coming" they really mean "give me your money and hope you get a return before you get tired of handling the headaches."

I am carefully watching the near west and near northwest side right now to see how the King Common Initiative, Riverside Park Project, and Waterside Project are going to impact those neighborhoods. There are some amazing homes near riverside in some areas, but you can't sell them or rent them right now. I've seen homes that rival the most amazing homes in Bates-Hendrick, Fountain Square, and St Clair Place, but they are located in "ghost towns" right now.

Other things to consider are:

  • Median Household Income
  • Education level
  • Median rent ranges for an area

You can also check the city permits and enforcement database to see how many enforcement citations are issued on particular blocks of streets and how many permits have been pulled. That can give you some insight to problematic or up and coming areas. The city database can be found here.

Lastly, walk the street on Google Earth (or physically if you're local.) Make sure that you're not across the street from the local trucking company, trailer park, landfill, water treatment center, etc. Flood zones, train tracks, industrial areas, etc. tend to suppress land values which means that the other residents are likely to be in a lower income and education demographic. We see this in Mars Hill, Ravenswood, and The Valley (West of Harding between Kentucky Ave and Morris St.) We have 2 large rivers, a big creek, and several reservoirs in Indianapolis and you may want to familiarize yourself with them and their flood plains. You will see that home values are lower and the areas usually have poorer reputations (nuisance crimes, poverty, distressed housing, etc.)

That should get you started.

I prefer to rely on local market experts for I'm-about-to-spend-money decisions, but Trulia crime maps are a great place to start and a decent way to back up what a market expert is telling you. Local market experts are realtors, property managers, police and fire departments. If one of them says an area is good but Trulia shows a high crime area, I'd want to dig deeper.

Originally posted by @Lydia S. :

@Tricia O'Brien

Does the local police department website have a crime stats link?  Or try neighborhoodScout dot com or citydata dot com.  Google crime stats for your location of interest and see what sites pop up.

 I haven't found NeighborhoodScout to be reliable at all. It drills down to the census tract level so it should be but I don't see it matching up with neighborhoods in Indianapolis that I know well. Here's a link to a good tool but it's raw data so it doesn't have context.

This can provide you with a lot of specific data directly from the police department and 911. You can also filter out certain types of crime, locate sex offenders in the areas, etc. You should be able use the same site for any city in Indiana I think. I think that it's national, but I'm not sure how may areas participate.

I usually use Trulia because it's easy, but the provides a lot more insight.

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