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NJ Safest Towns Rankings


Banana Tree News will be hosting a series of investigation reports on the different rankings.

Our first report is looking at the safest towns rankings.  There are 4 rankings out there with 4 different results. We have included the rankings of 3 towns that made the majority of the lists and the companies methodology to determine their ranking.

Movoto’s top safest towns in New Jersey 2015
Real Estate Website

  •  Glen Rock is 38th
  •  Wyckoff is 46th
  • Ridgewood is 17th.
Methodology:  Movoto looked at the FBI’s report of crime statistics from 2012. For our locations, we used the places in the state with a population of 10,000 or more, which left us with a total of 238 places. Then, we looked at each of these places in terms of three criteria:
  • Violent crime (rape, murder, and assault)
    • calculated the number of transgressions per resident.
  • Property crime (theft, burglary, and  motor vehicle thefts)
    • calculated the number of transgressions per resident.
  • The chance a resident will be a victim of crime
  • total number of crimes…
    • Then, we ranked each city from one to 238 across the three criteria. The lower the number was, the better the city’s score.

In order to account for the differing severity in the types of crime, Movoto weighted each criteria differently, placing a greater emphasis on violent crime, followed by property crime, and then the chance a resident might be the victim of a crime. Violent crime made up 50 percent of our ranking, property crime made up 30 percent, and a resident’s chances of being the victim of a crime made up 20 percent.


Safewise’s top Safest  Cities in New Jersey 2015
Home security Website

  •  Glen Rock is 35th
  •  Wyckoff is 5th
  •  Ridgewood is not on this list.

Methodology: To create this list, Safewise identified communities with a population of more than 10,000 people in 2013 and reported complete crime data to the FBI. Then we reviewed the latest FBI Crime Report statistics, comparing the number of reported violent crimes (murder, robbery, rape, and aggravated assault) and property crimes (burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson) in each city. To compare small and large cities fairly, we calculated the chance of both types of crime happening out of 1,000 people

Niche’s Safest Towns in New Jeresy 2015
Ranking website

  • Glen Rock is 19th
  • Ridgewood is 54th
  • Wyckoff is not on this list

Methodology: The Safest Suburbs ranking provides a comprehensive assessment of the overall safety at the suburb level. This grade takes into account key indicators of a location’s safety, including a variety of violent and property crime data, in an attempt to measure an area’s well-being and security.

At the time of analysis, our database contained records for 11,372 suburbs. Of the suburbs that met the required qualifications, we were able to grade 3,873 and rank 3,651.

Factors Considered:

  1. Murder:   30%
  2. Assault:   20%
  3. Robberies:    20%
  4. Burglaries:   10%
  5. LarceniesL   10%
  6. Vehicle thefts: 10%

All of the factors above are based on the rate per 100,000 residents.

Source: FBI Uniform Crime Report

Value Penguin’s Safest towns in New Jeresy 2015
Multi services website

  • Glen Rock is 52nd
  • Ridgewood is 91st
  • Wyckoff is 8th

Methodology: Value Penguin sourced their data from 2013 FBI crime statistics by city, which provides the most recent data available. We excluded towns with populations less than 5,000 because many of these towns experience serious fluctuations in population during the summer months and have population sizes too small to fairly compare to larger cities on the list. We attempted to account for seasonal population statistics, as many of the shore cities listed have much larger summer populations. However, there is little data detailing this change in population, and the crime rates reported by the FBI are not broken out by month. The raw data report included violent crimes (murder/manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault) and property crimes (burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson) from all law enforcement agencies that participate in the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting program.

We standardized the data to reflect violent and property crimes per 100k, to account for population. We then aggregated a “crime score”. In order to calculate this, we weighted violent crime at 90% and property crime at 10%; though property crime is far more prevalent, we figured that the violent crime data points are more relevant when calculating the relative safety of these cities. To account for the fact that smaller cities with slightly higher numbers of crime are penalized more severely, we applied a logarithm to the population and multiplied it by the “crime score” to arrive at an “adjusted crime score.” We then ranked the cities relative to each other based on their adjusted crime scores.


In reviewing these companies,  Niche, Value Penguin  and Safewise use the 2013 results from the FBI Uniform Crime reports. Movoto uses 2012. All of them use the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report. What seems to be different is how they calculate the results. Value Penguin weighs violent crime at 90% / 100,000 residents and Niche weighs the same information at 30%. The others do not publish the percentage that they weigh each factor at.

The question becomes, which report is the “best” and most accurate. Our responce: Niche.

This is based on the information above and the fact that most of these rankings are done by companies that have an ulterior motive.  The only one that seems not to have something to gain is Niche.

What are your thoughts?

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