Local News

WRAL Maps Crime In Raleigh

Posted February 12, 2002

— Comparatively speaking, Raleigh has a lower crime rate than most similar sized cities. But have you ever wondered whether some areas are


more dangerous than others? And if so, why? WRAL Investigative Reporter Cullen Browder maps crime in Raleigh to find out.

WRAL started the investigation by downloading three years' worth of data provided by the Raleigh Police Department on crimes reported from 1999-2001.


Raleigh crime locations

were then transferred into Microsoft mapping software.* All the reported incidents were color-coded: rapes and attempted rapes; personal robberies**; home burglaries***.

At first glance, the maps suggest crime occurs all over the city, but closer analysis shows certain areas with higher concentrations of reported crime.

Some areas that stuck out include:

  • Downtown

    -- south of the Capitol building reveals more dense clusters than anywhere else.

  • Between the U.S. 1 and 401 split in

    North Raleigh

    -- data indicates a lot of dots within just a few blocks.

  • Close to the N.C. State campus -- Maps for

    Hillsborough Street


    Gorman Street

    between Avent Ferry and Western turn multi-colored.

  • N.C. State graduate student Chea Hall lives off Gorman Street because of the cheap rent and convenient location. She was not surprised when WRAL showed her the crime map. It just confirmed her fears, even with a new police substation right down the road.

    "I don't think the streetlights are very good," Hall said. "I don't think people really look out for each other around here. It's not like a real community or residential area where people are watching for each other."

    To analyze the data, WRAL enlisted the help of former police officer Bill Booth, who runs Risk Management Associates of Raleigh.

    Booth's company does crime and security analysis to protect businesses.

    In general, he sees a direct correlation between high-density population and higher crime, which could explain the cluster of crimes near U.S. 1 and 401 and in the Gorman Street area.

    Both areas are home to apartment buildings and a transient population. Mix in a student lifestyle and that could be a recipe for trouble.

    "Whenever you couple alcohol use with pedestrians with higher densities of people, then you're going to have an increase in crime," Booth says.

    "There's that old adage of, 'When you're 20 years old, you're 10 feet tall and bulletproof,'" he says.

    On Hillsborough Street, Booth worries that a lack of parking could eventually force businesses to clear out, making way for a further increase in crime.

    "We don't have the people in those buildings that feel the responsibility and are watching what's going on in front of their buildings and around their buildings," he says.

    Plus, Booth says the natural beauty of Hillsborough Street offers a place for criminals to hide.

    "There's a lot of mature vegetation on Hillsborough Street," he says. "A lot of trees that have been here for many, many years ... are blocking some of the lighting."

    Booth says downtown has at least one positive going for it: good street lighting. But, a walking environment that takes people out of their cars and homes makes them more vulnerable to criminals.

    As for solutions, Booth says more permanent housing with long-time residents who care would be a strong start.

    Booth says the goal should be to "have people living here 24 hours a day who feel a sense of commitment to what's going on down here."

    Booth says crime has subsided somewhat in parts of downtown because of increased police work in the past year.

    In general, cul-de-sacs and dead end streets had fewer crimes, possibly because of limited escape routes for criminals.



    Not every incident transfered to the maps, and N.C. State University data is not included because the school has its own police force and those crimes are not reported to Raleigh Police. **


    is defined as a person-to-person attack. ***


    is defined as a residential break-in, typically with no one home, typically during the day.


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