Safer Than You Think… Probably

According to the FBI, violent crime in the U.S. has been on the decline since the early 1990s. Oregon’s violent crime rate is now as low as it’s been since the early 70s. With some slight bumps upward and downward from year-to-year, the violent crime rate continues to trend downward. While Albany and Philomath both had less violent crime than Corvallis – Philomath only had two violent crimes in 2016 – Corvallis is still a safe place to live.  

There were 75 violent crimes in Corvallis during 2016, including one homicide, 25 rapes, 11 robberies, and 38 aggravated assaults. For a city with a population of 56,061, that means the rate of violent victimization was 133.78 violent crimes per 100,000 residents, lower than Oregon’s overall violent crime rate of 264.6 per 100,000 residents. Portland, on the other hand, had a violent crime victimization rate of 492.58 per 100,000 residents in 2016.  

While this data is encouraging, especially when it comes to understanding your own risk of being victimized, it is useful to look at the distribution of crime.  

In Corvallis, violent crime tends to concentrate in a few areas. According to Crime Report, since the start of this year, violent crime has been concentrated in the downtown area and the areas immediately surrounding the north side of the Oregon State University campus.  In the last six months, violent crime was also concentrated south of town as well – though not to the extent that you see it downtown or near the university. 


Violent crime does occur elsewhere in Corvallis, but there’s much less risk you’re around NW53rd and NW Oak Creek – where no violent crime at all has been reported in the last six months – than you are downtown after 4 p.m., where 40-plus violent crimes have been reported during the same time period. 

Violent crime is unevenly distributed throughout this country, and most people are at a very low risk for violent victimization. Unfortunately, this is the opposite of what many people believe. In fact, according to 2016 research conducted by The PEW Research Center, most voters think crime has gotten worse.  

How is that possible?

Whether you are reading or viewing online or televised crime news, the impression left is that the U.S. is a violent and unsafe place. Taking their cue from the news, the public’s fear of crime is exploited in just about every crime show ever made. This dim view of the country – also ubiquitous on local social media sites – often translates into a feeling that one is at risk of being violently assaulted anywhere and everywhere. 

This portrayal isn’t accurate, and you can easily find up-to-date crime data on your own. Despite how you feel, you’ll learn that you’re much safer than you think you are – especially in Corvallis.

By Robert Swan