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
Cicero, Illinois is a crossroads of city life, suburban spirit, and a strong community less than 10 miles from the Chicago Loop.
This is a dense suburban area more defined by its community events than big attractions.
The word “community” is more than a noun, it’s a whole vibe here.
This is a primarily Hispanic community with eight neighborhoods each bringing unique traits to the proverbial table.
Cicero was once run by Al Capone as he chose this location as the headquarters for mob activity.
It’s hard to imagine less than 100 years ago this city was a center for illegal gambling, drinking, and prostitution.
Now there is a different kind of gang presence, but it is not felt as much as in other parts of the Chicago area.
By all accounts, Cicero is relatively safe in comparison.
If you were looking for a place to live, I could easily rattle off 10 reasons why Cicero is a great place.
Since we’re talking about visiting, the conversation gets a little more difficult.
There’s one small hotel in the Cicero city limits.
I can’t point you to the top five attractions of the city.
For the “big” stuff, you’ll need to visit the nearby surrounding suburban and city areas.
What you can get in Cicero is a real reflection of life with a big city on the horizon that still cherishes the small-town feel.
Warnings & Dangers in Cicero
OVERALL RISK : LOW
There's an average risk in Cicero. All crime statistics show rates at or just slightly above or below the national and state averages. While that could be considered low risk, that doesn't mean there isn't danger here as an urban suburb in an area otherwise dealing with high crime rates and increased gun violence.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
Metra and the Chicago Transit Authority "L" trains go through Cicero. In fact, the city is split by a large railyard that punctuates its moveability for residents and visitors. Taxis and rideshares are available too. You can also rent a car but be warned that traffic and parking in Chicago can be in demand and sometimes quite expensive. There's low risk with any option if you're practicing good safety standards.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
The theft rate risk here is one in 89, which is much lower than even some of the smaller Illinois cities. There's a low chance of it happening, but if someone does attempt to grab a wallet or snatch your purchase, it's a smart idea not to fight back.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : LOW
Chicago gets a lot of extreme weather potential in all seasons, especially in winter when heavy snow or ice can accumulate and temperatures can be bitterly cold. Spring brings a risk of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes that last until fall, and summer is hot and muggy with the potential for extreme heat warnings. Being tucked inside a city area doesn't help with the humidity at all. There's low risk on an average day, but when weather watches or warnings are issued you need to take action.
MUGGING RISK : MEDIUM
The robbery rate is the only crime category that soars here, with a risk twice the national average. While there are a lot of gang-on-gang or domestic-related robberies, it's not out of the question a tourist could be a victim. To be safe, we'll call it a medium risk.
TERRORISM RISK : MEDIUM
Being this close to Chicago puts Cicero at medium risk. There have been several terror plots thwarted by the FBI and Homeland Security in the Chicago area since the 9/11 attacks on our country. You can read the Cook County Emergency Management plan about how to be a good steward of homeland protection while visiting Cicero.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
More than 75 years after mob boss Al Capone died, there's still an element of mob-like activity that has haunted Cicero over the years. Most of the scams include taxpayer money scams or the standard spoofing scams. Since this isn't an area built for tourists, there aren't people actively trying to swindle them. Should anyone approach you with a get-rich-quick scheme, just say "No" or "No Gracias" and keep walking.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
There's a low risk for women but it's important here to stay off the streets at night if you don't know where you are going and walk confidently using direct eye contact with anyone you pass.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The latest annual water quality report shows no violations and that the city's water supply meets or exceeds requirements at the state and federal levels.
Safest Places to Visit in Cicero
No longer do you have to go to a speakeasy in Cicero to place a bet.
You can visit the Hawthorne casino and race track in the southeastern corner of the city.
The venue is undergoing major renovations as of mid-2022, but at some point in 2023, it is going to be a gambling and horse racing focal point of the Midwest.
St. Mary of Częstochowa is a beautiful sight no matter what religious beliefs you hold.
The neo-Gothic architecture is as stunning outside as it is inside.
Cicero Community Park is a gathering place for local festivals and events.
With spring comes a festival season in Cicero, and you’ll need to check local listings for any festival happening during your time of visit.
Cinco de Mayo is a huge event for this community.
Freddy’s Pizza has been a community favorite since the 1960s and looking at the promotional video, I could almost get in the car and drive to Cicero now.
There’s the hallmark deep-dish Chicago pizza, chicken piccata, pasta, gelato, Italian ice, and so much more.
This is like a fast-food restaurant mixed with a deli enhanced with a grocery section.
Placess to Avoid in Cicero
Crime maps show the northeast and southwest corners have the highest crime rates.
It’s important to remember this is a very residential area with homes built close to each other and the density gives a city feel without city chaos.
It doesn’t come without city crime like gang activities and drugs.
It will help in this community if you speak Spanish with such a large population of Hispanics and Latinos, which make up nearly 90% of the community.
82% of residents don’t use English at home.
Even studying some basic conversational Spanish is going to help here.
You want to avoid joking about or asking about gang activity here.
While the tales of Al Capone are exciting to hear, gang life still poses a real threat to the spirit of this community.
In the 1980s, there were around 65 gang shootings and eight homicides a year, but that has slowly gone down to 2020 when 9 gang shootings happened and two homicides were gang-related.
While the crime hold on the community has gone down, it’s not extinct and you should be careful of any situation that feels unsafe.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Cicero
- The Illinois State Police is just about the most transparent department I’ve researched (and I spent 25 years in local news, too) and they make the information really easy to find. On the website alone you can get a map of “move over” law violations, highway shootings in the Chicago area, full crime data going back to 1997, and so much more. They don’t make you work to find information, they just put it all upfront.
- If you have information about a crime that is non-urgent, you can fill out a form on the police department website or call (708)652-2130 to get a live person to speak with. The more people speak up, the better the police can keep crime rates going down.
- The city puts out a monthly magazine online called “The Cicero Town News.” This is a great way to find out about the local activities happening during your visit. You can print it out or download it.
- There are a bunch of rats in Cicero, and I’m not talking about people. There are actually rats. This is a problem Cicero just can’t seem to shake. It reminds me of the time I first went to Chicago with a friend and I saw a large animal run into a bush and I said, “Oh look! A cat!” and my friend rolled his eyes at me and said “That’s not a cat. It’s a rat.” Don’t think the city isn’t clean because of the rat problem. A lot of large cities deal with rat issues. If you see a rat, you can report it to the Rodent Abatement Hotline at (708)656-RATS(7287).
- If you see graffiti in the area, the city would really appreciate you letting them know. There’s a graffiti hotline, which is (708(873-3731 or you can email email@example.com. Graffiti is a sign of gang activity, so it gets cleaned up quickly.
- There’s a park in Cicero called “Safety Town.” This is where children can go to learn the basics of personal safety when it comes to crossing the street, stranger danger, train crossings, and so much more.
- Check with the Chicago Transit Authority for work that is being done on the “L” train tracks. Cicero is on the pink line. The website allows you to set up a trip and see the time it will take and the full costs. It also walks you through how to get a payment card for the ride. It’s safer to research this ahead of time than try to figure it out at a busy train station.
- Never try to “beat the train” at a train crossing. When the crossing arms go down, just wait it out. There have been several accidents involving vehicles that didn’t heed this advice in Cicero. It’s not worth the risk because a train is generally closer and moving faster than you think it is.
- Total Traffic and Weather Network is a great resource to keep updated on travel troubles throughout the Chicago area. You can follow them on Twitter @TotalTrafficCHI and even call in tips at (312) 977-1670.
- When interacting with people in Cicero, don’t think just because someone is a minor that means they aren’t a criminal. In April 2022, there were six gun arrests involving minors in just one week.
So... How Safe Is Cicero Really?
While there are a lot of special traits for Cicero, it’s just above average when it comes to crime rates.
Robberies and sexual assaults are the two crime rates that stick out higher than the national average.
Violent crime rates are lower than the state average, but the state of Illinois has a pretty high average violent crime rate.
The violent crime risk in Cicero is one in 262 as of 2020.
The risk of robbery is one in 676, which is a lot higher than the national average – almost twice as high.
While the data doesn’t explain which robberies were involved with strangers and which were victims known to the assailant, it’s worth taking extra precautions to not be a robbery target.
A story still developing in 2022 is a man who is accused of killing three people, including a Door Dash driver riding down the interstate and a man walking down the street.
I don’t bring that up to scare you, but to make it clear that an “average” community doesn’t mean safe.
What it does mean is that police are really making a dent in what was once a crime-ridden and gang-owned area.
“Average” is good when it’s a dense area near a big city.
It’s important to know the crime rates of surrounding cities because there is a good chance you’ll be heading outside of Cicero to see other attractions.
How Does Cicero Compare?
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- Visas - You'll need a Visa to enter the U.S. from other countries and that process can take up to five months or so. You should make sure to bring it with you on the flight as Homeland Security and Border Patrol will need to see it before you get to baggage claim.
- Currency - You can only use the U.S. Dollar here. You really don't need to carry cash around here and flashing a wallet full of money could make you a mark. It's a good idea to set up mobile pay because you don't have to enter a PIN. You just swipe your phone in front of the scanner to pay.
- Weather - Get ready for the full brunt of all four seasons here. Winters can be unpredictable, but you're going to get extremely cold and snowstorms at least once or twice each season. Summers are muggy and the Midwest humidity is nothing to mess with. Bring a water bottle so you can fill it up and stay hydrated.
- Airports - Midway International Airport is less than five miles south of Cicero, so that's definitely the closest option. O'Hare International Airport is 20 miles in the other direction.
- Travel Insurance - You'll want travel insurance for a trip to Chicago to avoid losing money on flight delays or cancellations. Chicago is the main transportation hub and can feel the ripple effects of weather that impacts flights across the country.
Cicero Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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