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Chicago is a great city—just ask anyone who lives here. And that’s why it has the most number of residents next to New York City and Los Angeles. But when you have 2.7 million people living in one place, it’s inevitable that the crime statistics will be quite high as well.

In recent years the crime stats have painted a rosy picture for Chicago. But the problem is that these crime statistics may not be quite as accurate in how they portray real crime rates. By listening to the chatter using a Chicago police radio scanner, you may have a very different view of just how common criminal acts are in the city on any given day.

Crime Rates in Chicago

Since 1993, Chicago has demonstrated a steady decrease in the numbers of index crimes committed every year. The “index crimes” include murders, homicides, rapes and other forms of sexual assault, robberies and other forms of theft such as carjacking, assaults and batteries, and arson. In 1993 the number of these index crimes approached nearly 300,000, however in 2010 there were only 150,000 cases.

But the crime rates suddenly took a deep plunge in 2011 by hovering around the 80,000 level. The number of index crimes after that year has been on a steady decline.

So basing on the stats, it would seem like Chicago is a lot safer than what most people thought, right? Well, not exactly and you will likely feel the same way if you listen to a Chicago police scanner.

Cooking the Crime Rate Books

According to one article published by Chicago Magazine on April of 2014, the trick to the lower crime rates was simple. The police were simply not classifying some acts as crimes at all.

Case in point, one victim was found dead inside an air mattress, but because the police had no suspects the death was not ruled a homicide.

Another female victim was discovered naked and wired to a chair. The medical examiner ruled it a suicide, although the report also admitted about not being able to pinpoint the actual cause of death. The police then reclassified the case as a non-homicide.

People who died in a fire that was ruled as arson by investigators were later on classified as non-homicides as well.

Listening to Police Scanners

As a Chicago resident, you may really want to know just what’s happening to your neighborhood. Weekends where dozens of people die from shootouts are not rare in Chicago. Listening to the police scanner Chicago law enforcement officials use can give you a better idea of when not to enter a particular area.

Just monitor the Chicago police scanner files found in Broadcastify or Radio Reference online. You can also download a free Chicago police scanner app (from either Google lay or iTunes on your mobile. These apps can help you monitor Chicago police frequencies so that a fun night out with friends will likely not turn ugly.