A survey of crime statistics nationwide shows New York is the second safest state in the country for people living alone.
That is according to a survey of FBI and census data compiled by the security website asecurelife.com.
The survey looked at data from all 50 states to determine the safest and most dangerous states for people living on their own.
The No. 1 safest state in the nation is New Jersey, according to the survey, followed by New York, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
The state with the highest crime statistics for people living alone was Alaska, followed by Maryland, New Mexico, Tennessee and Arkansas.
The survey included data on property crime rates, violent crime rates, local law enforcement presence and percentage of singles in the state.
“More and more Americans are opting to live alone nowadays,” according to the report. “The number of people living alone in the United States has grown from 5% in the 1920s to 27% in the latest census data.”
Coxsackie Police Chief Sam Mento said the lower crime rates could, in part, reflect stricter gun laws.
“We have a lot more laws here than they do in the Midwest. We are more regulated, and the ‘nanny state’ comes with the good and the bad — it is more regulated here and it is more difficult to get firearms. Things are very heavily scrutinized in New York and also in New Jersey. We also have a lot of social programs, so motivation for crime is lessened because of that.”
Mento cautioned that access to weapons “doesn’t necessarily mean you will be safer or less safe.” But stricter regulations do make for better control over who has access to guns, and could impact crime rates, Mento said.
“Guns are more scrutinized here in our state with regard to doing background checks, so the availability is not there,” Mento said. “It’s not necessarily that there are more or fewer guns, it’s the way they are regulated and how we scrutinize the individuals who have access to guns.”
Chatham Police Chief Peter Volkmann said he found the survey results eye-opening, particularly because of the population density in New York state.
“The list is quite surprising — to see that we are among the safest, yet we have New York City and other huge cities,” Volkmann said. “I would probably attribute it to law enforcement in New York state being very proactive on community needs. That has been my experience in the Capital District area and from being a police officer in Westchester County.”
Policing in New York has changed since he first joined the police force downstate, Volkmann said, and he thinks that could have a lot to do with it.
“Starting in the 1980s, policing became very community-oriented,” Volkmann said. “So this surprises me, but it also doesn’t — we are always looking to better ourselves, and we are working a lot on crime-prevention programs.”
But home safety — particularly for those living alone — does not come without risks.
Lt. David Miller of the Hudson Police Department said one of the things he suggests to people looking to beef up their home security is to install a security system, such as cameras or an alarm system.
“One of the things we suggest is having a security system — these days, you can buy really inexpensive home security,” Miller said. “Because technology has become so affordable now compared to, say, 15 years ago, now it is really inexpensive, especially if you live alone.”
Locking doors and keeping an eye on your neighbors is also important, Volkmann said.
“In Chatham, we are very community-oriented in looking out for your neighbor,” he said. “If someone sees something out of the ordinary, they will call the police so that nips things in the bud. Individuals need to have awareness — that is important in crime prevention.”
Mento offered additional tips for keeping your home safe.
“Have sensor lights around your home, and keep bushes and hedges trimmed. Doorbell cameras have also proven to be helpful,” Mento said. “Just about anyone now can put in home-security systems and with the sticker on your door, that is a deterrent. Having a dog is also a big deterrent — they are unpredictable, you don’t know what they are going to do, and they alert people.”
Leaving lights and the television on when you are not home can also be valuable in making the home look occupied. And don’t get lax in home security, Mento said.
“People think it’s safe here and they leave doors open — the front door, the back door, the garage,” Mento said. “But locking your doors is the No. 1 thing.”
For more information on the survey, visit https://www.asecurelife.com/safest-states-to-live-alone/