By John Hubbuch
My oldest son Chris is like Copernicus was to Aristotle. You will recall that Copernicus was the Polish guy who figured out that the earth was not the center of the universe. Chris and Sarah recently sold their house in Oak Park, and are looking to buy another for themselves and their two little girls. They are looking in Oak Park, but to my initial consternation, they are also looking in Glen Elyn, Elmhurst and LaGrange. After several discussions Chris has begun to convince me that maybe, just maybe there are places to live in other than Oak Park--the center of my Aristotelian universe.
There are of course lots of variables to be considered in deciding where you live, and they have to be filtered through each family's preferences and prejudices. City-data.com is a very good tool for collecting data in lots of categories, permitting comparison between Illinois cities. Among the variables to be considered are crime statistics. Almost everyone wants to live in a place where their person and property are safe. So this morning I compared Oak Park's and our near western neighbor LaGrange's crime statistics. 2009 is the last year the stats were available for Oak Park, and 2008 for LaGrange. Rapes and murders were negligible. Oak Park had 275.9 robberies/100,000, and LaGrange had only 13/100,000. Oak Park had 5 times as many burglaries per 100,000 and 1.75 times as many thefts.
So it seems to me that your person is really safe in both communities, but you are more likely to get your stuff stolen in Oak Park. There are of course lots of places in Chicago that have much worse crime statistics than Oak Park, but I need to convince Chris that crime in Oak Park is not that a big deal. Any suggestions?