Deceptions of city security


Welcome to Burlington, one of the most socially progressive places in the country.

Settled between the Adirondacks of New York and VermontÕs Green Mountains, this tiny city is just about what you would expect: peaceful, picturesque and welcoming. Just one warning: donÕt put your stuff down.

A little known fact is that Burlington has a high property crime rate, which consists of offenses like burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft and arson.

In 2010 alone, there were a total of 1,461 property crimes in Burlington. That equates to a rate of 3,444 crimes per 100,000 people.

In comparison, Boston had a property crime rate of 3,202 per 100k, and New York City had a far lower rate: 1,674 per 100k residents. Additionally, the state of Vermont as a whole had a property crime rate of 2,282 crimes per 100k people.

While not the highest by a long shot, BurlingtonÕs property crime is certainly much higher than one would expect, given the low population density.

At first glance, this observation seems really counter-intuitive. How could a city with so much social tolerance and environmental concern lack such basic morality? The answer is that only certain parts of the city actually embody this utopian image.

After dealing with so many exemplary people here, my natural instinct is to trust everybody. Unfortunately, like the rest of the world, Burlington has dishonest people, too.

After meeting more people, it becomes obvious that the stereotype of the morally alligned Vermonter falls short Ñ it certainly cannot be applied to everyone.

Away from the UVM campus, the Church Street Marketplace and the waterfront, things are not so picture perfect. There are many places that are not well kept and in others there are people who shout things at pedestrians.

Upon exploring the city, it becomes clear that not everyone is a friendly, eco-conscious Vermonter.

After research a little about Burlington, I discovered something shocking: a 2009 study found the city to have a poverty rate of 31.8 percent. The national rate for 2012 was 16 percent, about half of what it is here.

On top of that, poverty has increased nationwide over the past three years, so the current poverty rate in Burlington is likely higher than 31.8 percent.

As eye-opening as this seems, an analysis of the situation shows this to be less surprising. The poverty rate actually fits with the property crime rate.

While there is no cause-and-effect relationship between poverty and theft, there is a strong correlation between the two.

The poorest cities in the nation, such as Detroit or Cleveland, also have some of the highest crime rates. Property neglect is also correlated with poverty, explaining some of the poorly maintained buildings around the city.

But before you decide to buy a gun and shut yourself in at night, remember that Burlington is also one of the safest cites in the country.

Unlike Detroit, we have few violent crimes. There have been many years in Burlington without a single murder or manslaughter.

Violent crime here is much lower than in big cities. In my opinion, property crime is far less severe than violent crime. You should feel safe to roam about the Queen City.

The moral of the story is that you should think twice about where you leave your things.

Burlington is a wonderful place with plenty to do, but it can really ruin your day as it did mine a couple of times, when you find someone has stolen your stuff from a seemingly safe area.

With caution, you can enjoy everything good and avoid the bad.