Is Chicago Safe To Live In? An In-Depth Look At Crime Rates And Safety

Chicago is one of the largest and most famous cities in the United States, known for its iconic architecture, sports teams, deep dish pizza, and more. However, with its size and fame also comes questions about crime rates and overall safety for residents and visitors. If you’re wondering whether Chicago is safe, you’re not alone.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Chicago has higher violent crime rates than the national average, but crime is extremely localized with huge variations between neighborhoods. Many areas, especially downtown and North Side neighborhoods, are very safe with low crime while a handful of South and West Side neighborhoods have more issues. Overall, practicing basic safety precautions will greatly minimize risks.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive deep into Chicago crime rates, types of crime, which areas are the safest, precautions to take, and more to help you get a full picture of safety in the Windy City.

Chicago’s Crime Rates

When it comes to living in any city, safety is always a top concern. Chicago, the third-largest city in the United States, has garnered a reputation for its high crime rates. However, it is important to take a closer look at the data to get a better understanding of the situation.

Violent vs Property Crime Rates

Chicago has experienced higher crime rates compared to other cities, but it is crucial to differentiate between violent and property crime rates. Violent crimes include offenses such as homicide, assault, and robbery, while property crimes consist of burglary, theft, and motor vehicle theft.

While violent crimes tend to make headlines and evoke fear, property crimes are more common in Chicago.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2019, Chicago had a violent crime rate of 1,001 per 100,000 residents and a property crime rate of 2,891 per 100,000 residents. Although these numbers may seem high, it is worth noting that crime rates have been decreasing in recent years.

Crime Trends Over Time

Chicago has made significant progress in reducing crime over the past decade. According to data from the Chicago Police Department, both violent and property crime rates have seen a downward trend since 2010.

This decrease can be attributed to various factors, including community policing initiatives, improved law enforcement strategies, and investments in social programs aimed at reducing crime.

It is important to acknowledge that certain neighborhoods in Chicago still face higher crime rates than others. However, it is equally important to understand that crime is not evenly distributed throughout the city.

Many neighborhoods in Chicago are safe and offer a high quality of life for residents.

How Chicago Compares to Other Major Cities

While Chicago may have higher crime rates compared to some other cities, it is essential to consider the context. Chicago is a major urban center with a diverse population and complex socioeconomic factors that can contribute to crime.

When compared to other cities of similar size and demographics, Chicago’s crime rates are not significantly different.

According to the NeighborhoodScout, a website that provides comprehensive crime data, Chicago’s crime rate is comparable to cities like Los Angeles and New York City. It is important to note that crime rates can vary within different neighborhoods of a city, so it is crucial to research specific areas when considering moving to a new location.

Types of Crime in Chicago

Chicago, like any major city, experiences a range of criminal activities. Understanding the types of crime prevalent in the city is crucial for residents and potential residents to make informed decisions about their safety. Here are some of the main types of crime that occur in Chicago:

Murder/Non-Negligent Manslaughter

Unfortunately, Chicago has gained a reputation for its high murder rates. Statistics show that the city has experienced a significant number of homicides in recent years. However, it is important to note that the majority of these incidents are concentrated in specific neighborhoods, rather than being spread evenly throughout the city.

It is essential for residents to be aware of these areas and take necessary precautions.

Aggravated Assault

Aggravated assault, which involves the use of a deadly weapon or the intent to cause severe bodily harm, is another type of crime that occurs in Chicago. This type of crime can happen in various situations, such as altercations between individuals or during the commission of another crime.

It is important for residents to be aware of their surroundings and report any suspicious activities to the authorities.


Robbery is a crime that involves the use of force or threat of force to take someone’s property. In Chicago, there have been instances of both street robberies and home invasions. Residents should take precautions, such as avoiding walking alone in certain areas at night and ensuring their homes are secure.

It is also advisable to be cautious with personal belongings, especially in crowded places.


Burglary, the unlawful entry into a building with the intent to commit a crime, is another prevalent type of crime in Chicago. This crime can occur in residential, commercial, and other types of properties.

It is important for residents to take steps to secure their homes and report any suspicious activities to the police. Installing security systems and ensuring proper locks on doors and windows can help deter burglars.


Theft and larceny involve the unlawful taking of someone’s property without the use of force. These crimes can occur in various settings, including public places, parking lots, and even homes. Residents should be vigilant and take measures to protect their belongings, such as keeping valuable items out of sight and securely locking their vehicles.

Motor Vehicle Theft

Motor vehicle theft is a significant concern in Chicago, with many incidents reported each year. To prevent car theft, residents should lock their vehicles, park in well-lit areas, and use anti-theft devices. It is also advisable to avoid leaving valuables in plain sight, as this may attract thieves.


Arson, the deliberate act of setting fire to property, is a serious crime that can cause extensive damage and put lives at risk. While arson incidents may not be as frequent as other crimes, they can have severe consequences.

Residents should report any suspicious activities related to fire and take precautions to ensure fire safety in their homes.

It is important to note that while these types of crime occur in Chicago, the city has taken measures to address and reduce crime rates. The Chicago Police Department has implemented various initiatives to improve community safety and build trust between residents and law enforcement.

Additionally, there are numerous community organizations and resources available to support crime prevention efforts.

For more information on crime rates and safety in Chicago, visit the Chicago Police Department’s official website or the Criminal Defense Lawyer website.

Safest and Most Dangerous Chicago Neighborhoods


Downtown Chicago is generally considered to be one of the safest areas in the city. With a strong police presence and a high number of businesses, tourists, and residents, the downtown area has a lower crime rate compared to other neighborhoods.

However, it is important to exercise caution and be aware of your surroundings, especially in more crowded areas.

North Side

The North Side of Chicago is known for its diverse range of neighborhoods, each with its own unique character. While some areas, such as Lincoln Park and Lakeview, have lower crime rates and are considered safe, others may have higher crime rates.

It is recommended to research specific neighborhoods and consult local crime statistics before deciding to live in this area.

West Side

The West Side of Chicago has a reputation for higher crime rates compared to other parts of the city. However, it is important to note that crime rates can vary greatly within this area. Neighborhoods such as West Loop and Ukrainian Village have experienced revitalization efforts in recent years and are considered safer options.

It is advisable to research specific neighborhoods and consult local resources for accurate crime data.

South Side

The South Side of Chicago is often portrayed as a high-crime area, but it is important to recognize that this perception is not entirely accurate. Like any other part of the city, crime rates can vary significantly within different neighborhoods.

It is recommended to research specific areas, such as Hyde Park or Beverly, and consult local crime statistics before making a decision about living in the South Side.

For more detailed and up-to-date information on crime rates in specific Chicago neighborhoods, visit the Chicago Tribune or the Chicago Crime websites.

When considering where to live in Chicago, it is important to gather as much information as possible about crime rates and safety in different neighborhoods. While some areas may have higher crime rates, it is essential to remember that crime can happen anywhere.

Taking necessary precautions, such as being aware of your surroundings, securing your home, and getting involved in community initiatives, can help create a safer environment for everyone.

Crime Prevention Tips

Be Alert in Public

One of the most important crime prevention tips is to stay alert and aware of your surroundings, especially when you are in public places. This means avoiding distractions such as being engrossed in your phone or wearing headphones that can impair your ability to hear what’s happening around you.

By staying vigilant, you can spot any potential dangers or suspicious activities and take necessary precautions.

Keep Valuables Out of Sight

It’s always a good idea to keep your valuables out of sight when you are in public. This includes not displaying expensive jewelry, electronics, or large amounts of cash. By keeping your belongings concealed, you reduce the chances of becoming a target for thieves or pickpockets.

It’s also important to secure your belongings in locked compartments or bags when you are not using them.

Use Caution When Out at Night

While Chicago offers a vibrant nightlife, it’s important to exercise caution when you are out at night. Stick to well-lit and populated areas, and if possible, travel with a group of friends. It’s also a good idea to let someone know your plans and expected return time.

By taking these precautions, you can minimize the risk of becoming a victim of crime.

Consider Self-Defense Classes

Enrolling in self-defense classes can provide you with valuable skills and techniques to defend yourself in case of an emergency. Learning how to protect yourself can boost your confidence and help you feel more secure when you are out and about.

Many community centers and martial arts studios offer self-defense classes specifically designed for individuals of all ages and fitness levels.

Install Security Systems

Installing security systems in your home or apartment can greatly enhance your safety. These systems can include burglar alarms, surveillance cameras, and motion sensor lights. A visible security system can serve as a deterrent to potential criminals and provide you with peace of mind knowing that your residence is protected.

Additionally, consider joining a neighborhood watch program to collaborate with your neighbors in keeping the community safe.

Get to Know Your Neighborhood

Take the time to get to know your neighborhood and its residents. Building relationships with your neighbors can create a sense of community and increase overall safety. By looking out for one another and communicating about any suspicious activities, you can work together to prevent crime.

Stay informed about local crime trends and participate in community events and meetings to stay connected and engaged.

Remember, while crime can occur anywhere, being proactive about your safety can significantly reduce your risk. By following these crime prevention tips and staying informed about the safety measures in your area, you can enjoy your life in Chicago with greater peace of mind.


While no major city is without any crime, Chicago remains a vibrant, exciting, and livable city for residents and visitors alike. By being aware of crime rates, types, locations, and using basic precautions, you can comfortably live in or visit many Chicago neighborhoods. When in doubt, stick to busy, well-lit areas, especially at night.

We hope this guide gave you a comprehensive understanding of Chicago crime rates, dangerous areas to avoid, and tips to stay safe. With its unique culture, food, sports, events, and more, Chicago has so much to offer. By practicing good situational awareness and common sense, you can comfortably call Chicago home.

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