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Study shows fear of Seattle crime is mostly in your head

File photo (Tony Webster, Flickr)

The level of overnight crime in Seattle is generally fairly low. We’re usually talking about 20 car prowls and a dozen stolen vehicles citywide. The largest number of reports is typically that of suspicious people, which hover around 100 per day.

A report by The Seattle Times, citing a Seattle University study, tracked two things: neighborhood crime rates versus the perception of neighborhood crime rates.

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The conclusion they came up with is that many people are much more afraid of Seattle crime than they need to be.

The scale used in the Seattle U. study was 1-100, with 1 meaning no fear, and 100 meaning terrified. If you look at South Beacon Hill — the area where Beacon Avenue divides into a boulevard — it has the lowest rate of crime in the city, but residents gave it a 50.

The most chill neighborhood in the city is Fremont, with the lowest fear of crime in the city, even though the crime rate in that neighborhood is close to the city average, with 60 out of 1,000 residents touched by some sort of crime.

Similar for South Lake Union, where the crime rate is twice the city average, but the fear level is at 38.6.

Part of the gap may be due to local websites such as, which tend to be crime blotters. It’s pretty active there.

And, of course, people who immerse themselves in news coverage can also become paranoid.

The other neighborhoods listed in the Times as safer than residents believe are Magnolia, Bitter Lake, Highland Park, High Point, New Holly, Rainier View, Mid-Beacon Hill, North Ballard, and Fauntleroy in West Seattle.

The story sparked a debate in the newsroom about whether people were more fearful than they needed to be. Some admitted they were. Others were surprised at how low the crime rates are in some areas.

Listen to the conversation below and then tell us what you think in the comments section.

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