Q. Can’t I get this data from the FBI’s website?
A. By going to the FBI's website, you can see crime data by individual agency, but not by locality. And you cannot get address-specific data from the FBI at all.
FBI shows agency data, not location data. Remember, there are many local law enforcement agencies that have law enforcement responsibility in any location.
For example, Boston has the Boston Police Dept., the MBTA (transit) police, and sizable police departments at some of the major universities, such as Northeastern University, Boston University, and so forth. In a recent year, the MBTA (transit) police logged some 288 violent crimes within Suffolk County (Suffolk County is almost entirely in Boston), including a murder and 197 armed robberies. The MBTA also logged 266 property crimes including 10 motor vehicle thefts. Boston University police logged 16 violent crimes including 3 forcible rapes, as well as 455 property crimes. UMass Boston logged 146 crimes. Emerson College police logged 45 crimes; and Northeastern University logged an additional 489 crimes.
This is only one city, and only an example of some of the agencies with enforcement responsibility within its borders. But multiple agencies are common for many cities, large and small, all around the nation. When you rely on data sourced only from a municipality’s police department, you’re missing hundreds – even thousands – of crime counts, skewing your analyses and presenting a false picture of true risk that hampers predicting crime risk by address.
So, you can go to the FBI to get reported crimes for individual law enforcement agencies, but not by locality.
As importantly, the crime counts from the FBI are not specific to any address, including not specific to your address. Since crime risk often varies more within cities than between cities, don’t jeopardize your business, customers, or clients on general city-wide, Zip Code, or census tract data that tell you little about the crime risks at your location.