Researching crime before you buy

Yesterday’s big news on Oahu was murder suspect Teddy Munet escaping from Circuit Court for the day, which made people think about the safety of their homes (should I go home?) and offices (should I leave the safety of my office?). And, as timing would have it, Tara-Nicholle Nelson of blogged about some crime questions you may want to ask before you buy a home.

Just because you’re buying into a “nice” building or neighborhood, doesn’t mean that super-nice guy next door isn’t running a drug ring. On the other hand, your agent may not be able to do much more than refer you to law-enforcement resources.

Here are a few online resources you can tap into to make smarter decisions on where you buy or how you live in your current home.

Was the home a drug lab? You usually can’t readily get this in a seller’s disclosure, because most of these types of homes are sold as foreclosures, or by landlords who aren’t aware of the activity, or don’t have a legal obligation to disclose it. If you are comfortable with asking the neighbors about the property’s past, you can try to do so, but if not, you can search the Federal Drug Enforcement Association’s Clandestine Laboratory Registry. Click here to access. 

What kinds of crimes happen here, and what time do they happen? I grew up in a very low-crime area, but the crimes that did happen (if ever) were breaking-and-entering cases, during the day. In other neighborhoods, you can see frequent car break-ins overnight, and still others might have violent crime after dark. Knowing what goes on in your current or potential neighborhood can give you a better idea of whether or not to buy a dog, get an alarm, park your car outside, etc. is an easy-to-use site with data for communities all over thecountry, breaking down crime types with recognizable icons.

Does a sex offender live nearby? Thanks to Megan’s Law, individuals with histories of criminal convictions must register their home addresses with local authorities, who in turn are required to make this information available to the public. Click here to get information on sex offenders in Hawaii, and then click here to search by name and/or address relative to your area.

What can I do to help prevent crime? Many neighborhoods have grassroots groups, usually associated with the Honolulu Police Department (HPD). To see more information on HPD’s community policing and other community programs, click here.