Michael's Great House Hunt: Taking A Bite Out of Crime
Topic: Indianapolis Living
I'm not about to write a guide on the subject of how to buy a house. I've already skimmed through plenty of those, and trust me – other people can do it better. However, there are definitely a few points to consider. Aside from the money aspect, you're going to have to decide where you want to buy a house. As with any other city, finding that perfect neighborhood in Indianapolis, like rocking a rhyme, can be tricky.
South Broad Ripple (SoBro if you want to be overtly trendy), Herron Morton, Fletcher Place, Butler Tarkington, Rocky Ripple – It seems like every two or three square blocks within I-465 has an affectionate moniker designed to give a cluster of streets an identity. Outside of I-465 you're more likely to find sprawling sub-division so aptly named after the trees they've destroyed, as the cliché goes. The names are all well and good, but what does it say about the areas character? Not diddly!
To really figure out how a neighborhood stacks up in ways that a simple drive through cannot tell you, you have to look at the facts. What facts matter to me? Property taxes? Average income per household? Location to schools, shopping, or public transportation? Property value trends over the past ten years? You know… none of those things really matter to me.
What does matter to me is my stuff. My stuff is very important to me because, for the longest time, I had no stuff. I worked pretty hard for my stuff – and yes, it's only stuff, but replacing stuff can be a huge pain. Especially when its stuff like a car. Being without a car in Indy is like … well… it's just very bad. And much more than stuff, I like me. Not having me around is just as bad as not having stuff.
So, crime matters to me.
I've lived all over. In Chicago, I lived in Wicker Park before the Yuppies moved in. My car was broken into 3 times within a nine month span. I had to run the gauntlet of neighborhood gangs on my way to the subway (I think my mohawk may have saved me some trouble at that point). In Indy I have lived blocks from the Women's Prison, where a gun battle almost broke out between parents over how to properly discipline a child. I've lived over by 56th and Georgetown, where, in order to gain access to the apartment above me to buy drugs, customers would climb up the back air-conditioning unit to the balcony overhead. I've lived over by 86th & Ditch, where home invasions were known to occur and any clothing left in the laundry room was free game.
I really hate dealing with crime. And I don't want to live in a neighborhood that is known for crime. Of course I don't believe anyone really does. Unless you're Batman. But even he lives in the suburbs. What a jerk.
Two things got me thinking about crime and neighborhoods. The first was when Brent and Steph pointed out the numerous large dogs being kept by the neighbors of a house that I had my eye on. Coupled with the posted "Beware of Dog" signs on the other houses that did not sport a canine protector outside, this had the underlying implication that the dogs were there for a reason.
Also, a recent news story aired on Channel 6 regarding the large number of dispatched calls to the area south of 38th Street and east of Meridian put my mind even less at ease. This was an area that I was considering, because of its historic homes with interesting lines and convenience to the downtown and far north-side area. The story reported that one apartment building in the neighborhood received police dispatches once every three days (I really wish I could find a link to the story on The Indy Channel's website, but alas, I cannot).
I have no idea if this is excessive, but it sure does seem regular enough to make you stop and think. And of course we all know that one way the media can induce ratings is to instill some sort of fear into the general public – especially with tags lines like "Does your household pet have it in for you? You'll be amazed what we discovered! Find out at 11". So really – what's this all about? Are these violent crimes? Is it for noise disturbances? There's a huge difference in my book.
The Indianapolis Police Department has a handy dandy little tool called the Law Enforcement Incident Viewer. It's essentially a java based application which marks, on a city map, the different types of incidents reported to IPD over a given span of time. You'll have to bear with the IPD – the interface leaves a lot to be desired. But if you want to know about crime in your neighborhood, it's not a bad way to spend a lunch hour.
From what I can tell, in the last two weeks – the area south of 38th, east of Meridian and north of Fall Creek Parkway had five offenses against another person – one being a homicide. Yikes! There are plenty of property offenses (theft, vandalism, etc), and even more "other" offenses (disturbances, arrests on warrants, etc) but the one that matters to me is the one that stops me from being me.
So let's contrast this to … say… Broad Ripple. This area is a popular section of town for a diverse group of people. Surely this area has a lot more in the way of disorderly conduct and less in the way of the murder. The intersection of College and Kessler shouldn't be a bad place to start. It's a little south of the commerce district and more residential.
And it looks like the IPD confirms my suspicions – some burglary, a hit and run… But look at that – plenty of violence against persons right along Broad Ripple Avenue to the north. Fights, pedestrian hit and run, aggravated assault… wow. The same amount of violent incidents were reported in Broad Ripple as were reported down by 38th street. Darn those drunks on Broad Ripple Avenue!
What does this prove? Well – nothing really. It's just a nice exercise for ones self when looking at a potential home in a neighborhood. The association for the aforementioned Meridian and 38th street neighborhood (I want to say Fall creek Place but I am not sure) is working with the police to reduce the crime in their area and it is still on my list of areas to shop for that one historic gem that just needs a little TLC.
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