Illinois : Safety by City
- Arlington Heights
- Crystal Lake
- Des Plaines
- East St Louis
- Fairview Heights
- Granite City
- Mount Prospect
- Oak Lawn
- Rock Island
- Tinley Park
Arlington Heights, Illinois, is a northwest suburb of Chicago that is the largest of the “villages” in the region.
It provides a dense urban environment and is just 25 miles from the Chicago Loop.
It’s nicknamed “Action Heights”, but that’s more tongue-in-cheek for a laid-back suburb that isn’t ripe with activity.
Even the tourism website for Arlington Heights has just six categories.
However, you can stay busy here, you’ve just got to explore a bit.
You’ll probably see a lot of talk about the racetrack in Arlington Heights.
Don’t blame the messenger, but it closed down in September 2021.
As of mid-2022, the Chicago Bears have purchased the property and are making plans to build a new NFL stadium there.
The hotels in or near Arlington Heights are only found at the boundaries of the city limits, with the greatest grouping to the southwest in Schaumburg.
Arlington Heights is less than 15 miles from O’Hare International Airport, so you might get some airport noise the closer you stay to the airport.
There is a website called “O’Hare Noise” where you can learn about noise mitigation efforts.
Warnings & Dangers in Arlington Heights
OVERALL RISK : LOW
There's a low overall risk here and Arlington Heights ranks in the Top 20 of the 2021 Safe Illinois City list. However, the safety ranking comes with a lack of big attractions, so no doubt you'll need to leave Arlington Heights to get the full vibe of the Chicago area.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
Getting around Arlington Heights and the metro area is easy. Two lines of the Metra train come through here and the PACE bus service is also available for the northwest suburbs. The city is also near a lot of major freeways, so if you're driving you'll be able to get around easily. Taxis and rideshares are readily available in a place this close to the airport. There's low risk with every option.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
The data provided by the police department doesn't show how many of the 273 thefts were related to pickpocketing. Unfortunately, Illinois isn't as transparent with its crime data as other states. However, the overall theft rate is less than half the national average, so there is a low risk. Just don't let your guard down, especially when riding public transportation.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : LOW
You'll face a risk of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes in the warmer months, and it's not unheard of for severe weather of that kind in the winter. Winter also brings snow and ice, sometimes even blizzards. There's low-risk day-to-day, but you should study the emergency management plan so you know how to handle the wide variety of events that can happen here.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
There's a one in 6270 chance of being mugged, and that's very low compared to a lot of cities in the Chicago area. You should still never let your guard down, as gun violence is on the rise across Illinois.
TERRORISM RISK : MEDIUM
Arlington Heights itself isn't considered a hard target, but the entire metro Chicago area is since nearly 10 million people live here. There's medium risk but that shouldn't cause concern because Homeland Security is actively pursuing any threats against Windy City.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
There are traditional community scams in Arlington Heights but are mostly targeting locals. The police department did warn of "Sextortion" scams that come via text and if you respond you could allow the scammer to access your personal devices. Don't engage in any text activity with someone you don't know and call the FBI if someone tries to reach you. That number is 1-800-CALL-FBI.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
Women should feel safe here. The sexual assault average is 1/4 of the national average. While you never want to let your guard down, you can relax a little when visiting Arlington Heights.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
2021 was another year the water utility in Arlington Heights met or exceeded all required standards for safe tap water. You can rest easy that it's a low risk.
Safest Places to Visit in Arlington Heights
There are four locations preserved by the Historial Society that are open for viewing, including an old-fashioned soda factory where the product is still on sale in a variety of flavors.
All of the historic locations are in the same city block, making it a safe and easy visit.
The options include:
- Arlington Room
- Old Soda Factory
- Banta House
- Coach House
- Log Cabin
- Muller House
In between the big box stores that fill every suburban city, you’ll also find unique shopping and dining in downtown Arlington Heights.
There are more than 200 restaurants to satisfy every palette.
You can see a restaurant guide on the Discover Arlington Heights website.
If the weather is nice during your visit, rent a bicycle and see the city on two wheels.
There is an extensive bike trail and bike lane system in Arlington Heights.
You can also visit Lake Arlington and rent a paddleboat or kayak to enjoy a day on the water.
Sailing lessons are also available in the summer.
Check the schedule for the Metropolis Performing Arts Center and take in a show at one of the finest venues in the village.
There are shows throughout the year and tickets are easy to come by.
Places to Avoid in Arlington Heights
The far southern edge of the city along I-90 and the northwestern corner have the highest crime rates, according to crime mapping technology.
However, those areas are certainly not too dangerous to visit and it’s quite common for crime rates to be higher along a major interstate.
We already talked about how the race track is closed here, yet it’s still on many travel websites.
This is a fine example of how you should just not assume a business is still open.
Always call ahead or visit the website of the destination, not just a travel and tourism page.
While interviewing a friend who is from Arlington Heights originally, I told him the race track was closed and he said “That was the only reason to visit there!”
One thing I need to punctuate is how to pronounce Illinois because you want to avoid saying it wrong.
It’s pronounced “Ill-in-noy,” not “Ill-in-noise.”
You’ll also notice Chicagoans have a pretty thick accent.
It’s hard to describe, but it’s definitely more of a nasally way of speaking than you might be used to.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Arlington Heights
- You can read the 2020 Annual Police Report, and perhaps by the time you get there, the police will have posted the 2021 Annual Report. This shows the success and challenges of Arlington Heights in the past year and gives crime data too. This is posted on the police department’s website.
- When walking around Arlington Heights, you should review the pedestrian rules from the police department. Only cross where there is a crosswalk and never assume a driver is going to stop for you. Look back and forth at least three times before crossing and even if you have the “go” from the crossing light, you should still pay attention to cars that might not be paying attention.
- There are two weather warning sirens you might hear in Arlington Heights. One is a tornado siren, which means a tornado has been spotted and you should seek safety immediately. The other is a lightning warning siren, which means there is lightning in the area. In both cases, you should immediately go indoors, but a tornado warning is much more urgent.
- The sirens are only meant to be heard outdoors. If you can hear them inside, that’s great, but you can’t rely on that. A good weather app with weather notifications is mandatory when visiting a place with so much fluctuation in severe weather.
- Sign up for Citizen Alert through the city website and you can get warnings about the weather there as well, in addition to road closures, criminal activity, or civil emergencies. This alert system covers Arlington Heights and five other nearby communities, so you can get warnings even as you travel in the northwest suburbs.
- For parking in official parking lots or garages in Arlington Heights, download the Passport Payment app and you can safely make payments for your parking time through a mobile device while in the vehicle.
- You cannot park overnight on the city and residential streets without getting express permission from the city. Between the hours of 2:00 am and 5:00 am, you could get ticketed or towed if you are parked on the street or in a lot. If more than two inches of snow have fallen or are expected to fall, all street parking will be banned until snowplows can get through. Not only could you get a ticket, but you could also get sideswiped by a snowplow.
- When there is a fresh snowfall, you can go sledding at one of several park hills. Most of the sledding hills do have lights for when the sun sets. You are sledding at your own risk and there is no guard on duty to watch out for dangers or injuries. Be sure you have your mobile device wrapped in something warm so the cold air doesn’t drain the battery.
- If you plan to fish while you’re here, you’ll need a fishing license from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. You can’t use the fishing license from your hometown. There are different rules at different lakes, but the respective park website will detail what you can and can’t do when you catch fish and how many you can take home.
- The Arlington Heights Police Department has license plate readers throughout the community. That means no car comes in or out of the city without having its plate read and recorded. This is only used for criminal investigations and you shouldn’t worry unless you stole someone’s car, but don’t do that.
So... How Safe Is Arlington Heights Really?
There’s a good reason Arlington Heights is one of the Top 20 Safest Illinois Cities.
The crime rates are very low, even for a city with 73,000 people.
Here’s the raw crime data as reported to the Illinois Bureau of Investigations:
- Violent Crime: 43 (1 in 1749 risk)
- Robbery: 12 (1 in 6270 risks)
- Theft: 473 (1 in 159 risks)
Thefts are generally going to have about 30% being shoplifting and another 30% being car break-ins.
In a safe community like this, residents become too comfortable and have been known to keep their car running and unlocked while waiting for it to warm up on a cold winter’s day.
Definitely don’t do that.
I worked in local news for the past 25+ years and the last three cities I’ve lived in had police saying the biggest call for crime investigations was related to people who left their cars unlocked or the keys in the car.
I never understood that, as I even lock my car when it’s in my garage because it’s too easy to hack into the garage door opener.
How Does Arlington Heights Compare?
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- Visas - You won't need to show your visa as you visit the area. That's only going to be needed at the airport when you arrive. Your passport will be your legal identification if you are coming from outside the U.S.
- Currency - You can only use the U.S. Dollar here and it's smart to keep all purchases limited to one credit card. This allows for better budget tracking and fraud surveillance. You really don't need to carry cash here.
- Weather - You'll get all four seasons, but the Midwest can have huge swings in temperatures day-to-day any time of year. Bringing a jacket or sweatshirt is always smart in the spring and summer for cooler nights. Winter is going to be cold, at times brutally cold. You should pack warm layers.
- Airports - O'Hare International Airport is the closest option, just 15-20 minutes away. Midway International is going to be just under an hour's drive.
- Travel Insurance - The airports here cater to hundreds of thousands of travelers each day, and there are going to be flight delays and cancellations, especially during extreme weather. Travel insurance will help you be protected during the unpredictable.
Arlington Heights Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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