A story in this morning's Ventura County Star boasts that, "Thousand Oaks has reclaimed its title as the safest city for its size in the country, according to preliminary 2005 crime statistics released Monday by the Federal Bureau of Investigation." Really? Always suspicious of a city with such a phony name– where are those thousand oak trees?– I wondered how that conclusion had been reached. Fortunately, the Star explained :
To tabulate the rankings, The Star compiled the number of reported violent crimes, such as murders and forcible rapes, and property crimes, such as auto thefts and burglaries, released by the FBI.
Among cities with a population of 100,000 or more, the one with the fewest incidents is considered the safest. Rankings are not calculated on a per capita basis.
So, I pulled up the new FBI stats (still only preliminary– any 2005 corpses discovered in shallow graves during the next few months can still be added to the totals) to check the Star's arithmetic.
What I found was that Thousand Oaks was the safest if you do what the Star did and lump both property crimes and violent crimes against persons together– but if you just look at violent crimes against persons (and I assume most of you reading this are persons), Irvine is actually safer. Irvine reported only 151 violent crimes last year (up from 135 in 2004), while in blood-soaked Thousand Oaks there were 174 violent crimes (up from 165). It's only Thousand Oaks very low property crime rate– 1,784 incidents reported, as opposed to the more robust 3,225 incidents perpetrated by Irvine's far more industrious criminals– that gives the city its good overall rating. In other words, a lifeless, soulless bit of property, like a watch, is safer in Thousand Oaks, but your grandmother is safer walking around Irvine. And who doesn't love his/her grandmother more than a cheap Timex? Obviously not the editors of the Ventura County Star.
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(As for the stats for the rest of OC, let's just say you should keep Granny in Irvine– maybe a day trip to Orange, if she's feeling restless.)