Session 49 – Crime and Locations – Podcast

Session 49 – Crime and Locations

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Hello.  This Scott McDonald and welcome to the Perfect Place to Put a Practice Podcast.

Occasionally, we will get questions regarding crime statistics on a location.  It seems like a reasonable time to answer these questions.

First of all, crime statistics are usually kept on a county basis.  This means that most crime data published on a national level will have limited utility.  Even if Los Angeles County data is broken out into smaller units such as cities, these geographic units are often too large to be practice for a practice owner.  While there may be some data on the Zip Code level, they are highly suspect.  That is because crime fighting organizations like the FBI have a hard time getting data on a granular basis.  This really means that areas that are too small geographically can confuse things worse than they can clear them up.  Should we be tracking the location where a crime occurred?  Where an individual who committed the crime or the victim of the crime lives or works? And what do we do about unreported crime?

Second of all, not all crime statistics will tell you what you want to know. Crime data is divided into crime against people and crime against property.  To make things a little difficult, the differences are not always as clear as we would hope. Many police departments consider car-jacking a crime against people (in most jurisdictions) and auto theft of a parked vehicle a crime against property.  As a practice owner, knowing what type of crime was committed is important but there are some factors that can be confusing.  For example, crimes against people are carried out most often at night.  If you have a practice in an urban area, there are crimes going on when neither you nor your patients are present.  For this reason, crimes against people can seem to be a serious threat when they are not.  On the other hand, crimes against property (including window breaking and graffiti) may occur late at night but the damage done is most often visible during the day.  This extends the impact of a crime upon the success of a practice into all hours of the day and night while it also results in an increase in insurance premiums.  For most practice owners, crimes against people are dramatic but the results of crimes against property may have the greater impact on the practice.

This brings us to the point that some municipalities keep crime statistics on a “quintile rating” meaning that crime is rated by very low, low, average, high, and very high.  Unfortunately, the standard is somewhat artificial.  You could reasonably ask “compared to what?” Well, it is a moving target that is constantly being readjusted.  It is not a statistic that is static.  What is low today may be average tomorrow.

The perception of crime is also a problem.  Because you are an educated person, you know that the murder rate has been dropping around the U.S.  But if you were an average consumer of television, you would get the opposite impression.  Crimes by police against minority residents has been going down dramatically in the U.S.  But the discussion in the media is quite the opposite.  Unfortunately, this same normative belief in crime does not comfort business owners including those who operate practices.  It is also true that when it comes to crime, statics are not an adequate predictor that future crimes will not occur or even are likely.  That is why we have come to find the best crime measurements for a given location is to go back to the old-fashioned way of learning of a neighborhood: ask current business residents.  Their experience will indicate better than any other level of statistics what is happening in front of the office.  When have done this often and find that getting good data from local businesses is better than anything else we can find.  If a property has a good security system and security personnel, the differences in crime incidents from one building to another may be dramatically different.

Thank you for listening to our podcast.  You can get demographic and competition data from our web site at  If you would like the Demographic Whetherman to come to your meeting or conference, give us a call at (800) 424-6222 or contact us at  This is Scott McDonald.  Thanks again for listening.