Follow-up article to Baltimore Violence Trends

Harm City Home Buyer: Checking Out a Potential Neighborhood for Signs of Crime

Baltimore Housing Remote Checking

When considering purchasing Baltimore housing or taking up residence in a rental, the first thing you need to do is ask any cops and other criminals you know about the area.

Check the “Next Door” social media app for that neighborhood for crime and police activity reports. Also check police blotters, if the local police and news organization have not discontinued their publication, such as in Baltimore City, concerning the area with the following understandings:

-Residents will only report a maximum of 25% of crimes.

-Crimes against residents returning from work or shopping indicate that the
neighborhood has been targeted as a hunting preserve by professional criminals.

-Read closely any reports of burglary. Take note if a resident was home and knew it was a home invasion, the category of crime most likely to be misreported by police.

-Read any assault at a retail store as a robbery.

-Check assaults for any indications that a weapon was used.

-Municipalities experiencing crime waves will often report home invasions as assaults and robberies as well. So check for indications that robbery and assault reports occurred at a person’s home.

If you have not ruled out the location, do some drive checks.

Baltimore Housing Drive Checks

Do these on a Sunday afternoon.

-The more parked cars you see, the better.

-The more people you see walking, working in their yards, and otherwise outside their residence, the better.

-For sale signs, more than one for 40 houses, is worrisome. More than 1 for 20 houses is disturbing. More than 1 for 10 houses is an evacuation.

-Vacant houses are a chilling sign of neighborhood decline unless the renovation is by an owner for his own habitation.

-Vacant businesses are a far worse sign than vacant Baltimore housing units. They indicate a failure to thrive, often related to an inability to secure inventory and attract customers. Fear of sidewalks in commercial districts is the death knell that predicts the urban food desert.

-Rental signs on houses, renovation signs by commercial house flippers, dedicated rental structures and poorly maintained properties are all signs that home buyers are giving up on their own neighborhood. If you are renting, you ideally want to be the only renter within parking distance.

-Neighborhood Watch and Citizens on Patrol signs indicate worry about crime in the community. Such signs tagged with graffiti are indications that they were correct.

-Bars on backdoors and windows [usually beginning at the end of rows of rowhomes] do not get installed until after daylight burglaries have become a feature of life in the area.

-Barred front doors indicate one of two things or both: the resident is afraid of the people they see walking on the sidewalk or home invasions have become a feature of life in the area.

-Bars on high windows indicate that teams of professional criminals have been hitting occupied houses.

-Every police car is an indication that armed aggression is ongoing in this area. This is true whether the police car is patrolling or parked. The heavier police presence is, the more dangerous a residential area is apt to be. Keep in mind that roughly a third of police in a given municipality will use their powers to commit violence against residents.

-Do a weekday drive as schools are letting out. This will allow you to look at the type of children attending the neighborhood elementary school. If these children represent those of the residents you observe on Sundays, that is a good sign. However, if the neighborhood demographics are not inclusive of the school demographics, there is about to be a major demographic shift in the next five years.

Walk Thru

-Do some of the residents have those little round cameras on their window sills observing the street and their property? If so, they are there for a reason. They are not free.

-Ground litter such as condoms, crack & heroin vials, syringes, liquor store bags, menthol cigarette wrappers, and shell casings are all bad signs.

-Broken car window glass looks somewhat like a bunch of squared marbles and bb’s, rather than shards. Look for that in the gutter, street or alley.

-Check bus stops within 5 blocks. If there is significantly more trash there than in the area in general than people working in this area are from a lower income area and will be seeking to relocate to this locale as soon as they can find a cheap enough rental.

-Military age men wearing backpacks and walking through the area in any
significant numbers indicate that local businesses are not paying people enough to afford them car transportation or local residency. This places the area at a demographic tipping point, with local businesses and politicians likely to agitate for more mass transit and subsidized housing. You can see these men from your car. On foot, however, you’ll find out if they are homeless or on their way to and from work.

-That your area is host to homeless men means that it is safe enough for them to be outside at night. It also indicates that nearby areas have become too hot for them.

Ironically, homeless men are a prime indicator of changing home viability for those who depend, for their safety, solely on the goodwill of the worst among us.