by Susan Gulliford
Cities in Illinois vary dramatically with regards to safety. That is the major takeaway from the ValuePenguin team’s analysis of the latest FBI Crime Report for the Land of Lincoln. The 291 communities with populations of at least 5,000 had crime scores that ranged from 109 to 8,278. This score takes into account violent and property crime and adjusts it for population size.
Small suburbs of Chicago with high median household incomes, low levels of poverty and high rates of homeownership dominated the top five safest places. Chicago itself was not the least safest city; in fact, it was not in the bottom five. The least safest community in Illinois was a mid-sized city outside of St. Louis. You can review the report to see how all of the cities rank.
5 Safest Places in Illinois
These cities have an average crime score of 143, which is 88% lower than their typical peer in the state. With some of its lowest total violent crime rates, these five are the safest places in the state.
1. Hawthorn Woods
This village, located 40 miles northwest of downtown Chicago, touts the professionalism and dedication of its police department for good reason. It reported zero violent crimes, and Hawthorn Woods had the third-lowest rate of property crime of any community in this research. This community is very affluent; the median household income was 2.7 times the median household income for the state, and almost 99% of the residents were homeowners. Hawthorn Woods has a well-educated population; almost 64% of its residents (25 years and over) had at least bachelor’s degree.
2. Clarendon Hills
This village is small (population of 8,684), but it offers its residents close proximity to commercial centers. It is a 30-minute drive from downtown Chicago and approximately 26 minutes to Naperville. Clarendon Hills had the lowest rate of property crime of any community in this research, and it also has a low amount of violent crime. "The Volunteer Community" had a population of mostly well-educated professionals with a median household income of over $106,000 per year.
3. Campton Hills
This suburb of over 11,000 is on the western edge of the Chicago metro area in Kane County. The Campton Hills Police Department values having a partnership with its residents. Campton Hills had only two violent crimes for the year surveyed, and it had the fifth-lowest rate of property crime. It is another affluent community where the median household income is double that of the state’s median.
4. Western Springs
Western Springs has only 13,217 people, yet it is the largest community in the top five. It is 30-minute drive west of downtown Chicago in Cook County. Residents have a Neighborhood Watch program to keep crime low. This suburb reported only two violent crimes and had a low rate of property crime for 2014. Western Springs is another affluent community with high median household income, high per capita income, and a homeownership rate of nearly 95%.
The smallest community in the top five is located on the northwestern edge of the Chicago metro area in Kane County. Hampshire is a fast-growing village; the population increased 10% from 2010 to 2015. It had only two violent crimes reported and the sixth-lowest rate of property crimes for 2014. The median household income was approximately $25,000 above the state’s median, and Hampshire had a low level of poverty.
There was a great deal of consistency for 2015 and 2016. In both years, small suburbs of Chicago swept the top five. Hawthorn Woods was number one and Campton Hills was third for safety in 2015 and 2016. Last year’s fifth-safest community came in at number six in this year.
The large category demonstrated a great deal of stability too. The three safest big communities in 2016 -- Bartlett, Buffalo Grove and Wheaton -- were the three best large places in 2015. Overall, nine out of the ten safest communities in 2016 were repeats from 2015.
The mid-sized community showed some change. While Lake in the Hills was the safest place in this category for both years, only six of the top ten were repeats from 2015. Lake Forest, Frankfort, Geneva and Shorewood were new to the top ten this year.
Safest Places in Illinois
- Hawthorn Woods
- Campton Hills
- Hawthorn Woods
- Clarendon Hills
- Campton Hills
- Western Springs
To rank these places, we collected data from the 2014 FBI crime statistics by city, which provides the most recent crime data available. Not every town participates in this report and we also excluded towns with fewer than 5,000 residents because towns with small populations are more sensitive to crime score fluctuations for fewer crimes committed. The raw data report included property crimes (burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson), and violent crimes (murder/manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault) from all law enforcement agencies that chose to partake in the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting program.
We standardized the data to reflect violent and property crimes per 100,000, to account for population. Then, we aggregated a "crime score" by weighting violent crime at 80% and property crime at 20%. Though property crime is more prevalent, we figured that violent crime is more concerning to town residents. Then we adjusted the crime score for population size, giving more slack to larger cities. Finally, we ranked the cities based on their crime scores.
Full List of Places in Illinois
Below is the entire list of places that we included in our "Safest Places in Illinois" study. They are listed from the safest to the least safe, according to our analysis. The calculation for the crime scores can be found in the methodology section below. Take a look at the chart and see where your hometown ranks.
Violent Crime per 100K
Property Crime per 100K