Robbery and assault as a side effect of real estate development
As property in Manhattan has grown more expensive, development has moved to the outer boroughs, a pattern that we see wherever population densities increase. A side effect of this population expansion can be a temporary increase in robbery and assault.
This was brought to our attention recently when large developers moved into a residential area in Brooklyn, turning single-family homes into apartment buildings. Someone with relatives living there remarked that they had lived through a similar expansion in California, and had seen that there was, in fact, an increase in assaults and robberies. it was an interesting thought. And, once we checked into it, we discovered that it appeared to be a fairly common pattern.
We don’t think that this increase in assault and robbery was a deliberate tool used by unscrupulous real estate developers. We think it is merely a natural side effect, with bad people gravitating to an area in transition, However, on a practical level we don’t really care whether it is deliberate or not. We merely want to make sure that whatever the cause, the effect is minimized.
It is clear that if you live in a neighborhood that is going through a transition from single-family residences to multi-family residences, there is a potential for increased violent crime. Independent of the cause, it is a problem of which you must be aware, and with which you must deal.
You must start by making the mental adjustment from the suburban view of safety (even within a large city you can have a suburban view) to a more urban view. If you do not normally lock your doors, then you should start. If you don’t have an alarm system, then you should consider it during the transition period. (You may not need it later.) You should speak with your local police department to see if they have noted an increase in crime. If there has been an increase in reported crime, you should find out what, if anything, they are doing about it, and what their recommendations are. Then follow those recommendations.
Keep in mind that the increase in crime is generally temporary, and is likely to drop again as the neighborhood re-stabilizes. It is rare that the crime levels become extreme as a neighborhood enlarges. But if you are the victim of a crime, that is about as extreme as you need. And it is certain that the long-term economic benefits will do good things for your property value. All you have to do is last through the transition.