There is a lot of unsolved crime in America. According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, more than one in three homicides in the U.S. went unsolved in 2013. But the rates vary depending on where you live; how many crimes remain unsolved in your city? Numbers for big cities are available in the FBI's year-end report, but they're a challenge to dig out. NPR has done us all the favor of putting the data into a visualizer tool so you can plug in a city and see just how often crimes happen there, and how good police are at catching the people responsible.
Because the Bay Area is our backyard, we plugged in the names of six cities here: Mountain View (Google's hometown), Cupertino (Apple's hometown), Menlo Park (Facebook's hometown), San Jose, Oakland (our hometown) and San Francisco. The tool shows the number of crimes committed in the city over the previous three years along with the total number and percentage of "cleared" crimes. The FBI defines a "cleared" offense as one that has resulted in an arrest or has been closed by "exceptional means," like when the alleged criminal has died, has been charged for a crime in another jurisdiction, or when the victim decides not to press charges.
(It should be noted that the data is not 100 percent reliable, as some precincts' information is rejected due to errors, and some precincts don't submit data at all, although 95 percent of precincts do. It should also be noted that "cleared" offenses, for the purposes of this data set, only includes crimes that were committed and solved within the same calendar year.)
Judging by the data, Google's hometown of Mountain View is a pretty safe place. The biggest problem facing it is property crime, which has increased over the charted three year period.
Just like Mountain View, the biggest problem in the city of Cupertino is property crime, which has risen from 2011 to 2013. The amount of unsolved violent crime in Apple's hometown also increased during that time period.
Menlo Park, home to Facebook, has similar crime rates to Cupertino and Mountain View, but solves a lower percentage of violent crimes than either city. (Apparently, having the world's best people-finder in your city doesn't help with sleuthing.)
The city of San Jose, the largest city in the South Bay, has the highest homicide count in the region, with dozens of murders and manslaughters reported each year since 2011. But more affluent cities, like Menlo Park, have a higher rate of solved crimes. (The good news is that San Jose is in line with the national average when it comes to solving homicides.)
It may not surprise anyone that the city of Oakland, a town that has landed on the list of most dangerous cities in America many times, has the hardest time solving crimes of any major Bay Area city. Only three percent of burglaries in Oakland were solved in 2013, and only 18 percent of violent crimes were cleared. Couple that with a homicide clearance rate that is far below the national average, and it becomes clear that Oakland has some work to do when it comes to crime-solving efficiency.
San Francisco has a major problem when it comes to issues of property crime. This is a bad sign for the city with one of the most expensive real estate markets in America. That, paired with only solving one out of every two homicides in 2013, isn't a good track record for a city considered to be one of the most desirable places to live in the world.
"I write about the future (Associate Producer at @ThisIsFusion).
I write about the past (publisher of #OGToldMe).
Oakland, CA raised me."