New Jersey is known as the Jersey Shore State, the Garden State, and, to residents, perhaps the Greatest State. Of all of these things, though, one thing New Jersey has not been historically known for is its squeaky clean record or safety-but Movoto Real Estate is hoping to change this.
For the past several months, we've been on a trip across America to find the best places in country, and one thing that makes a place great is its safety record. After compiling data and sifting through our findings, we believe we've found the safest place in New Jersey: Chatham Township. Of course, Chatham didn't make it to the top of our list without overcoming stiff competition. Here are the 10 safest places in New Jersey:
1. Chatham Township
2. Mahwah Township (tie)
2. Sparta Township (tie)
4. Bernards Township
5. Borough of Hasbrouck Heights
6. Berkeley Heights Township
7. Borough of Florham Park
8. Borough of Ringwood
9. Borough of Tenafly
10. Borough of Lincoln Park
Why was Chatham Township the safest place in New Jersey? Which were the most dangerous? If you really want to know, keep reading and we'll talk about the method behind our study, why each of these places is so safe, and, in the end, which you might want to avoid.
How We Conducted Our Study
In order to create this list of the 10 safest places in New Jersey, we looked at the FBI's report of crime statistics from 2012. For our locations, we used the places in the state with a population of 10,000 or more, which left us with a total of 238 places. Then, we looked at each of these places in terms of three criteria:
- Violent crime (rape, murder, and assault)
- Property crime (theft, burglary, and motor vehicle thefts)
- The chance a resident will be a victim of crime
For violent crime and property crime, we calculated the number of transgressions per resident. In order to determine a resident's chances of being the victim of a crime, we used the total number of crimes in the city. Then, we ranked each city from one to 238 across the three criteria. The lower the number was, the better the city's score.
In order to account for the differing severity in the types of crime, we weighted each criteria differently, placing a greater emphasis on violent crime, followed by property crime, and then the chance a resident might be the victim of a crime. Violent crime made up 50 percent of our ranking, property crime made up 30 percent, and a resident's chances of being the victim of a crime made up 20 percent.
In total, there were 176,193 total crimes committed last year across all of the places in our study. Out of these, though, a vast majority were non-violent; 151,453 or about 86 percent were property crimes.
Now that you know the method behind this madness, let's take a look at our 10 safest places, starting with the winner, Chatham Township.
Source: Chatham Township
Located in Morris County, our safest city ranked well in nearly all of our criteria, most notably for its impressive total of zero violent crimes in 2012. It was the only place in our entire study with no violent crimes for the year, and as far as property crime goes, it only saw a total of 46. In other words, that's just a 1 in 223 chance for residents to be the victim of any crime, and that is pretty darn in impressive.
Source: Flickr user jiangkeren
The name "Mahwah" comes from the Lenape word mawewi, which means "Meeting Place," and, after conducting or study, we can't think of a better-or safer-place to meet. This township in Bergen County has a population of over 24,000 residents-that's over twice the population of our No. 1 place-and yet, it only saw a total of 109 crimes in 2012.
Only three of those crimes were violent (one robbery and one aggravated assault), and out of the remaining crimes, nearly all of them were property theft; 87 out of 106. Just like in our first place, residents here only had a 1 in 223 chance of being the victim of a crime.
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Source: Flickr user Anthony Quintano
Even though the name of this township may evoke a feeling of danger if you're a movie buff, this Sparta had only one violent crime in 2012, making it one of the least-violent places on our entire analysis.
While residents are strolling the Mohawk Boardwalk, they can have peace of mind knowing that aside from the one violent crime of 2012, there were only 132 property crimes for the year total, 116 of which were cases of larceny/theft. This means that residents in Sparta only have a 1 in 146 chance of being the victim of any crime.
Compare this number to that of Atlantic City, where residents have a 1 in 10 chance of being the victim of a crime, and it's easy to see why Sparta made our list.
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Source: Bernards Township
This historically affluent township in Somerset County has seen an increase in population over the years, and, after our analysis, we're pretty sure we know why. Bernards Township only had 149 reported crimes in 2012, out of a population of nearly 27,000.
To put that into perspective, compare it to Bridgeton, CT, which, with a population roughly the same (in fact, it's about 1,000 less), saw a total of 1,367 crimes that same year, 320 of which were violent. In contrast, Bernards Township had just three violent crimes. Overall, residents only have a 1 in 181 chance of being the victim of any crime.
Source: Hasbrouck Heights
This Bergen County borough has all of the benefits of being just 10 miles northwest of Midtown Manhattan without the drawbacks (namely, the crime). Hasbrouck Heights only had one violent crime during the entire year of 2012 for its population of almost 11,500 people.
Other than that, there were a total of 72 property crimes in Hasbrouck Heights, 60 of which were mere cases of property theft/larceny. Of course, property theft/larceny is still a crime, but it certainly isn't anything like violent crime.
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Source: Wikipedia user Tomwsulcer
Berkeley Heights Township was named No. 6 in Money Magazine's Best Places to Live ranking last year and earned a top spot on New Jersey Monthly's 2010 Best Places to Live list. After conducting our analysis, we can't say we're surprised.
With a population of over 13,500 people, Berkeley Heights saw only one violent crime in 2012 and just 102 property crimes. Out of these property crimes, 78 percent were cases of larceny/theft, about 19 percent were burglaries, and just 3 percent were motor vehicle thefts.
All told, residents only have a 1 in 131 chance of being the victim of a crime. This truly does seem to be one of the best places to live in the state, at least crime-wise.
Source: Wikipedia user Jim.henderson
With a total of just two violent crimes and 65 property crimes reported in 2012, it's no wonder the Borough of Florham Park made it onto our list. To break this down further, Florham Park only saw 56 cases of larceny/theft, seven cases of burglary, and just two cases of motor vehicle theft. Perhaps this was one reason the Borough of Florham Park beat out five other places to become the new headquarters for the Jets in 2008?
Source: Wikipedia user Mwanner
Ringwood only saw a total of three violent crimes in 2012: two cases of murder/non-negligible manslaughter and one case of aggravated assault. Sure, that doesn't exactly sound good, but when you compare this to, say, Somerville, with roughly the same size population and 14 murders and seven aggravated assaults, well. it makes Ringwood look pretty peachy.
Aside from this, Ringwood only saw 79 property crimes, 85 percent of which were simple cases of larceny/theft.
Source: Flickr user Dougtone
This borough scored well in our study for an impressive total of zero murders, zero forcible rapes, zero robberies, and just three cases of aggravated assault reported in 2012. Additionally, Tenafly only had 101 cases of property crime during the year. With a population of 14,864, this means residents only have a 1 in 143 chance of being the victim of a crime.
Source: Borough of Lincoln Park
The final spot on our list goes to the Borough of Lincoln Park for many reasons, namely just 93 total crimes in 2012 for a population of 10,663. Of these, only two were violent (both were aggravated assault) and the remaining property crimes were mostly cases of larceny/theft (63 out of 91).
With its close-knit community feel, some of the state's finest schools, and just a 1 in 115 chance of being the victim of a crime, Lincoln Park certainly seems to be one great place to live or start a family.
The Bottom Of The List
Now that we've explored some of Jersey's safest places, let's take a look at a couple of the spots that came in at the bottom of our list.
The least-safe place in our analysis was Asbury Park, NJ. This place of just 16,625 residents saw a total of 1,491 crimes in 2012, of which 344 were violent crimes. This means residents have a 1 in 11 chance of being the victim of any crime. Second place for New Jersey's most dangerous goes to Camden, NJ, with a total of 1,841 violent crimes (37 of which were murder), and 3,500 property crimes, for its population of just over 79,000.
All told, the most dangerous places in New Jersey, according to our numbers, were Asbury Park, Camden, Atlantic City, Irvington, and Bridgeton, each of which saw over 1,000 crimes in 2012.
(click to enlarge table)
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