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Fact Check: Is Tukwila really the 2nd most dangerous city in America?

A city with a population under 20,000 is the second most dangerous city in the entire country? (AP file photo)

A provocatively titled article came across the Jason Rantz Show desk this week proclaiming Tukwila to be the “2nd most dangerous city in America.” Tukwila? Really? A city with a population under 20,000 is the second most dangerous city in the entire country? Color me suspicious.

Safewise is the company making the claim as part of a blog post that sought to rank the 30 most dangerous cities in the country. Safewise helps connect consumers with home alarm systems.

Safewise claims to base their list on the following:

To identify the 30 most dangerous cities in America, we looked at cities with a population of 10,000 or more in 2013 and analyzed the most recent FBI Crime Report statistics. Specifically, we evaluated the number of reported Violent Crimes (murder, robbery, aggravated assault, and forcible rape) and reported Property Crimes (burglary, arson, motor vehicle theft, and larceny-theft). Then, we determined the chance of each crime happening out of 1,000 people.

Based on this data, is it possible that Tukwila really is the second most dangerous in the country? The Jason Rantz Show fact checking machine says: nope.

At least, Safewise doesn’t make a compelling case because they don’t really provide you source material for the claims.

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First, they say there are 8.29 violent crimes per 1,000 (which is the third lowest on the list), but 167.42 property crimes per 1,000 residents (which is very high). Now, data I’ve seen does suggest Tukwila has high property crimes, but not data presented by Safewise.

They say that they’re looking at FBI statistics, but don’t provide any links directly to the violent crime and property crime stats. They twice link to 2014 January-June Crime in the U.S. report from the FBI, but it’s not broken down by city (it simply gives general stats on crime). Twice, they give us a breakdown of plain stats from 1960-2013, but nothing is broken down by city. Nowhere do they provide a city-by-city breakdown.

Next, I did a general Google search on this article and was taken to KOMO which, thankfully, links directly to a city breakdown of crime and it’s implied you can find the data to back up the Safewise article in this link. Success! Well, not so much. There are a lot of cities with data listed in alphabetical order. You’ve got Tucson, AZ, Tulsa, OK, and even Tuscaloosa, AL. Noticeable absent from the link that supposedly provides data breakdowns for the Top 30 most dangerous cities list? Tukwila. (You do have Seattle, Tacoma, Bellevue, Everett, Kent, Renton, Auburn, Lakewood, and Redmond. But no Tukwila.)

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So where are they pulling the data from? I’m not saying their data is wrong, I just can’t find what they’re using to make their claim. So, I called them. Their customer service line doesn’t work – it disconnects you. I tried back and was successfully able to connect with someone trying to sell me an alarm system. The representative doesn’t work directly for Safewise. He told me he was a third party employee who works off site and has no information on how I can contact the main Safewise administration offices. I asked to talk to his supervisor; maybe they can help? Nope. “He’s not on the floor.” I wasn’t given the option to wait until he returned.

We’ve sent an email to Safewise’s press team hoping they can get us the details to properly vet their claims. They do caution in their blog: “If there’s a city you think should be on our list but isn’t, it may be because the FBI did not receive complete crime data, which means we removed it from consideration.” Or it may be that they’re getting a bit creative in how they’re looking at the data? We’ll know once they get back to us.

Jason and Burns on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM

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