Illinois : Safety by City
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It’s not every city on the side of a lonesome highway that gets a song named after it.
We’re talking about Effingham, Illinois.
Of course, Ben Folds didn’t even get the name right and called the song Effington and it certainly isn’t a tribute to the city.
Let’s start with, don’t make any jokes about the “Effing”, or “F’ing” as some people joke, because the people here have heard all the jokes and don’t find them funny.
This is small-town Illinois at its finest and, some would say, most boring. For most people, Effingham is a stop along the way to somewhere bigger, as two interstates cross here.
There’s also a giant cross that cost $1 million to put up by the Cross Foundation.
Being a road trip stop at such an interstate pivot point, and on a railroad line, you’ll get a lot more restaurant options here than in other cities with just 12,000 people.
This is a place where everyone knows everyone and strangers might be greeted with a little bit of skepticism.
For anyone who enjoys rural or farm life, you’ll feel right at home here.
While there isn’t an abundance of things to do, the things you can do might be surprising.
Warnings & Dangers in Effingham
OVERALL RISK : LOW
Effingham is such a small community that a few crime numbers, either way, can skew the actual "per 100,000 people" average, which is how the FBI ranks city crime rates. However, using that math, the city has higher crime rates than national and state averages. While there's a low risk, it's definitely a place where you need to watch your back.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
Central Illinois Public Transit goes through this community and the entire county. It's not the best way to explore the city. Taxis and rideshares are going to be harder to find here and having a car is almost essential.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
There's a low risk of being pickpocketed here unless you leave a bag lying around or a backpack in an unlocked car. However, I guess that technically wouldn't be a pickpocket. The overall theft risk is one in 42.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
You're going to have to consider the risk of severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, hail storms, blizzards, ice storms, and extreme heat and cold. There's a medium risk because there are a lot of things that can happen and not a lot of nearby resources to help. However, all of the risks come with a good amount of warning.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
The robbery risk is one crime category lower than the average. There were just four robberies here in 2020. There haven't been more than eight robberies here in a year since 2010. That's a low risk.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
When even a major pop star can't remember the name of the city, I doubt the terrorists can either. There's a low risk here, as there is nothing that makes Effingham a hard target.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
Effingham has experienced the typical utility, elderly, and IRS scams, but nothing that would target a tourist. The one thing I'd caution in a city that is designed to be a roadside stop for most people - check the gas tank payment pad before using your card. You need to make sure there isn't a card reader attached to it. Most gas stations now have a seal showing the device hasn't been tampered with.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
Effingham does have its own Convention & Visitors Bureau and there are a bunch of places listed as being good for nightlife here. Even if it's on a CVB website, you still need to use caution when enjoying the nightlife in any city, and always protect your drink from a stranger being able to add something to it. There's a low risk in the crime numbers with four sexual assaults reported in 2020, but you always want to be careful in a city that gets a lot of traffic from transient drivers on an interstate.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
According to the 2021 Annual Water Quality Report, the water samples taken had no violations and all water is in compliance with required standards.
Safest Places to Visit in Effingham
Downtown Effingham has some boutiques and restaurants in an old town setting.
It’s not going to fill up an entire day, but it’s worth walking around.
You can visit the historic courthouse on the square and the war memorial too.
You should probably go visit the Cross at the Crossroads, even if you aren’t religious as it’s the one truly unique part of this community.
There’s a small park around it with reminders of the 10 Commandments.
There is a website for the Cross but it’s pretty outdated.
The Wright Mansion is a beautiful historic home here, and if you can visit it you’ll be taken back to a different era.
Unfortunately, it’s only open from May through September for two hours on Sundays.
Harley Davidson lovers will be enamored with the Legacy Harley Davidson location in Effingham.
From there, you’ll want to head to the My Garage Museum, which is all about the history and advances in automobile technology.
There are several wineries in the area, but Effingham Winery is the closest.
This is a family-friendly winery, so the kids can come with you, but obviously can’t drink the wine.
You can also find a bunch of antique stores here throughout the city.
The Firefly Grill is a popular place to find products labeled “Made in Effingham.”
Effingham has a lot of outdoor activities.
The Anthony Acres Resort is a hotel and nature area with a lake for boating, fishing, and swimming.
The Ballard Nature Center has four trails with a kids’ fishing pond and an indoor learning area.
There’s also the popular Lake Sara with nearly 30 miles of shoreline for fishing, boating, and kayaking.
Places to Avoid in Effingham
The southwest side of the city has more crime according to the latest crime map, with the safest area on the east side as you get closer to Teutolpois.
A bit of a heads up about the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau website – there are a lot of dead links or businesses that have closed, like the Heartland Classics car display.
I tried to send several emails to let the webmaster know about some of the errors and corrections, and the email kept bouncing back.
If you see an attraction on the website you want to visit, please call to make sure it’s open.
You are in the heart of the bible belt here and this is a conservative area in every way it’s possible to be conservative.
Avoid getting into religious or political arguments here.
Respect the small community and its beliefs.
Enjoy what you can and keep your opinions to yourself.
I’m not trying to silence anyone, as I firmly believe in the right to free speech.
It’s just not a fun way to spend a vacation arguing with someone about politics.
Just know this isn’t a place where varying opinions are greeted with open arms.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Effingham
- Effingham uses a program called Hyper Reach to send emergency notifications. You will need to enter a local address, so use the address of your hotel. I wouldn’t rely on this for thorough weather notifications. Be sure to check your phone’s setting for WEA (Weather Emergency Alerts) and if you’re on a road trip a weather radio is a smart investment.
- Any vendor or product peddler in Effingham must have a license for the city. If you are approached by someone selling something, ask to see the license if you aren’t sure it is legit.
- You can report a crime tip to Effingham Police anytime by emailing email@example.com. Give as much information as you can and pictures or videos are helpful. You should also note if you want the report to be anonymous or if you’d like a follow-up call. You might be eligible for a cash reward if your tip leads to an arrest.
- There might be some spots around the Effingham area where you don’t get mobile phone coverage or you have a weaker signal. Each provider should have a map on its website showing coverage areas. Since this area is more remote, you should make sure you know where service is reliable and where it will become more challenging.
- You need a fishing license issued by the state of Illinois to take part in any fishing activities here. You can get that on the website of the Department of Natural Resources. Be sure to get a non-resident license.
- There is plenty of free parking in downtown Effingham parking lots and there are also spots where you can parallel park on the street. Some streets don’t allow parallel parking, so be sure to review the downtown parking map on the city website.
- There’s a website for Effingham Radio that lists a daily police blotter of crime. It is great to see the crimes occurring closer to your time of visit.
- The Cross is located at exit 159. Despite a few online reports, there is no stairway or elevator ride to the top. Your visit will be a self-guided tour and there is not a flock of Christians waiting to convert anyone. It’s just a cool roadside stop or a meditative place for those who practice Christianity.
- Do not text and drive or hold the phone while driving here. Illinois has a law against it although you can use the hands-free functions of a phone.
- Recreational marijuana is allowed in Illinois but there are a lot of rules about it. For example, you can only use it if you are over 21 and are in a private residence where the owner approved of the use.
So... How Safe Is Effingham Really?
Effingham is a small town dealing with the same challenges as other Illinois cities, like gun and gang violence on top of an opioid epidemic.
With a population of just over 12,000 that has stayed consistent for the past decade, this isn’t a fast-growing community or a dwindling area either.
People who are from here tend to stay here, leading to ingrained points of view and beliefs among the locals.
There were 72 violent crimes in 2020, which leads to one in 170 risks.
There haven’t been any homicides here since 2014.
The theft rate is one in 42, but the police information provided doesn’t break that down into which ones were shoplifting versus car break-ins or pickpockets.
Generally, about 30% of a city’s theft rate is related to car break-ins.
Just because you’re in a small town doesn’t mean you should let down any of your safety guards.
Keep the doors locked, the windows on the car rolled up, and never leave your personal belongings unattended unless locked in a hotel room.
How Does Effingham Compare?
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- Visas - You will need your Visa when you go through Customs at the airport, but after that, you can put it away until you travel back home. Your passport will be used for legal ID.
- Currency - You will use the U.S. Dollar here. I would venture a guess that some of the businesses here might be cash-only. There are just some really old mom-and-pop shops here, so it's a good idea to have some, but not too much cash.
- Weather - Prepare for extreme weather in all seasons. The winter winds can whip across the plains and make it incredibly cold. Bring gloves, hats, scarves, and warm socks in addition to boots in the winter. Summers are going to be humid and you'll sweat a lot, especially in the wilderness areas. Bring bug spray too, because the bugs can be intense in the summer.
- Airports - You'll be two hours from St. Louis Airport and two and a half hours to the Indianapolis Airport. Those are the biggest airports and two of the closest that are worth the drive time.
- Travel Insurance - You should get travel insurance for a trip here and make sure you know what road insurance you have as there are some wide empty places along the highway to get here.
Effingham Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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Illinois - Safety by City
|East St Louis||32|