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
On the northwest side of the Chicago area, just before the landscape turns to flat roads in farmland, is Elgin, Illinois, with a rich history and a bright future.
Nearly 115,000 people call Elgin home and it’s a highly residential area with a bunch of cool attractions to suit any lifestyle.
You’ll find the hotels in this community are all along I-90 on the north side of the city, making for easy access to the rest of Chicagoland.
The western side of the city has city limits that kind of jump all over the place, but it’s also more rural in that area, so it won’t impact the crime data we’re going to talk through.
The TV series Roseanna was set in a fictional place that mirrored Elgin, but the actual name of the city in the show was Lanford.
The series and the city focused on working-class people dealing with the trials and tribulations of family life in a comical manner.
That’s about the only thing it has in common with Elgin.
The Elgin of 2022 is a highly diverse community with 47% of its residents being Hispanic/Latino, and both African Americans and Asians making up 5% in their respective census origin data.
Another 7% are of mixed race in Elgin.
46% of people speak a language other than English in their homes.
This diversity is celebrated in the festivals and food of Elgin and it’s a great place to get culture in the suburbs.
Warnings & Dangers in Elgin
OVERALL RISK : LOW
There's a low risk in Elgin and the police department there released the 2021 crime statistics, which in some categories show a dramatic change from the previous year. Some for the better, some for the worse. The police chief of Elgin says crime is at a 50-year low. However, there's still some crime we need to talk about because even a record low rate of crime doesn't mean it's an all-around safe community.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
There are three Metra rail line train stops in Elgin, and the PACE bus service also serves the city. You can get taxis and rideshares as well. All of the options are a low risk, but you should always use personal safety protocol when using public transportation.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
There's a low risk of being pickpocketed. Thefts dropped 31% in 2021. The theft rates have been pretty static for the past decade, so the decrease is encouraging, but we'll need to have a few more years of lower rates here for it to be the new trend.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
You're going to have risks throughout the year from severe thunderstorms and tornado potential when it's warm, and winter storms, blizzards, and ice storms in the winter. Both summer and winter also have the potential for extreme temperatures. There's a medium risk when there's any kind of weather watch issued.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
The robbery rate is slightly lower than the national average, and there's a low risk of the average person getting mugged. However, many Illinois communities are dealing with an increase in gun violence and Elgin is in that category, so you should never fight back against a robber trying to take a purse or a wallet. Protect your life first.
TERRORISM RISK : MEDIUM
There's a medium risk in any Chicago area city because of the large population base here. Homeland Security has already thwarted previous attacks on Chicago. Elgin is not considered a hard target by itself.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
The police department has a website page being built about common scams in the area, but right now the information is just a warning about general crime categories. There is nothing in the information that suggests a tourist would be targeted.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
There's a low risk for women who travel here, but the sexual assault rate is slightly higher than the national rate. Some high-profile rape stories have made headlines here over the past few years, including one woman who was forced into her car at the mall. Just because there's a low risk doesn't mean you should ever let your guard down.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The city of Elgin could not make their Water Quality Report harder to read if they tried. There's no summary or detailed information like most cities provide or a list of if a category was in compliance. However, after looking through it, none of the contaminants were above the maximum acceptable level. There's a low risk, but it takes a sleuth to figure that out. If you have questions when reading the report, call (847)931-6753 for clarification.
Safest Places to Visit in Elgin
The Grand Victoria Casino is a hot spot on the Fox River in Elgin.
If you’re a fan of the show Ozark, the boat looks almost just like the one the Byrds built.
This casino has tables and slot games, with several restaurants and a sportsbook.
The Lords Park Zoo is open June through August, though the animals can be seen from the outside throughout the year.
It’s not the exotic animal zoo you might traditionally think of.
This is a zoo that’s more like a farm and wilderness area.
Bison, elk, deer, pigs, donkeys, and turkeys are just a few of the animals at the zoo.
There are many forest preserves to explore in or near Elgin.
There are simply too many to even be able to go into detail here.
Some are along the Fox River and others are more focused on the wildlife in the woods.
You can review the full list on the Explore Elgin Area website.
If you want to enjoy the outdoors without going into the wild, the Bartlett Nature Center might be a perfect mix of both.
This is also a great place to do some cross country skiing after a snowfall.
Firefighters Memorial Plaza is right in front of the Elgin Barn No. 5 Museum, a historical marker about the history of firefighting in Elgin.
You’ll have to plan this as a Sunday activity as that’s the only day the website shows it is open for tours, but it’s worth the effort and it only costs $2 for adults and $1 for children.
You can also visit the Elgin History Museum for a wider view of historical events in Elgin.
Walton Island Park is a great spot in the center of the Fox River and you can easily walk to it.
While it’s not a park with a lot of activities, it’s a great place for a picnic.
It’s worth taking a look at all the locally owned and operated restaurants in Elgin on the tourism website, as there is food from every culture you can think of and some of the sweetest treats from a variety of bakeries, too.
Places to Avoid in Elgin
Crime maps show the area between Dundee Avenue and McLean Boulevard has the highest crime rates and that stretches all the way between I-90 and Highway 20.
Generally, the west side of the river is considered the safest part of the city.
It’s also the part of the city with newer home construction.
You’ll be able to tell visually when you are in a sketchy neighborhood, but it’s always smart to stick to main roads and not cut through neighborhoods.
You won’t even be able to look for the Roseanne house because the home used for the exterior shots is in Indiana.
There’s no one area of Elgin that is too dangerous to visit, but there are places where you might feel uncomfortable.
Use your gut as guidance if you aren’t sure of the crime numbers in that area.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Elgin
- You can easily find crime data closer to your time of visit on the Elgin Police website. There are several choices of maps and you can search for a certain date range. This is parent of the police department’s mission to be more transparent with data and it’s very helpful if you’re trying to learn about specific crimes like gun violence or calls for service.
- “Like It, Lock It” is the call to action from Elgin police when it comes to car break-ins. You should never leave a car unlocked or car windows rolled down when you are away from the vehicle. Don’t leave a car running to warm up on a cool day. Police do ask that you call them if you are the victim of a break-in, even if very little or nothing is stolen. This is so they can track break-in trends in different neighborhoods.
- You can download the Elgin 311 mobile app to stay on top of events planned and other information from the city that might be important during your stay. You can also ask questions through the app or report things like potholes directly to the city.
- If more than two inches of snow falls during your visit, you should avoid parking on the street until 24 hours after the snow stops. This is so snow plows can get through and safely clean the streets. This law is pretty common in most Chicago area cities.
- You can get email updates from the city before and during your visit through the “Notify Me” section of the city’s website. There are more than a dozen options for the type of information you want to receive.
- The parking downtown is free, but you have to follow the time constraints on a given spot. The city has installed sensors that time how long a vehicle has been there. You don’t want to ruin a good thing like free parking by getting a ticket.
- There are dozens of parks in Elgin and it’s hard to keep them all straight. There is an app for Elgin Parks that allows you to search by location or activity. You can also read any park safety rules while you’re there.
- For anyone who plans to fish while you’re visiting Elgin, you’ll need an Illinois non-resident fishing license. You can easily get this at the website of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
- To look for hyper-local events happening during your visit that are open to the whole community, follow Elgin Community Network on Facebook. You can ask the moderators questions there too about any safety questions you might have.
- Search for Historic Districts on the city’s website so you can see where the best neighborhoods are for the most stately homes. There are five historic districts and you can easily get a driving or walking tour map on each sub-section of the website.
So... How Safe Is Elgin Really?
Elgin is a relatively safe community, though not among the safest (or most dangerous) in the Chicago area.
It’s slightly below average in many crime categories, but with a surge of gun activity in 2021.
Elgin also had six homicides in 2021, which is the highest number since at least 2010.
Police Chief Ana Lalley partially explained it this way in the 2021 Annual Crime Report, “However, even with this historic crime rate, we did see gunfire incidents increase and experienced what other cities have also experienced with the increase in this crime category.
As we enter 2022, we will continue to focus on and prioritize reducing these incidents and continue our response to address these incidents by working with our law enforcement partners, utilizing data, intelligence, and other investigative methods to ensure arrests are made.”
You can read the full report on the police department’s website.
The risk of being a victim of a crime here is as follows, according to 2021 data:
- Violent Crime: 1 in 292
- Robbery: 1 in 1,551
- Theft: 1 in 177
If you’re staying in Elgin to be close to Chicago, it’s about as far away as you can get while still being in the Chicago area.
There are places closer and safer, but Elgin isn’t a bad place to stay either.
You get a lot of diversity with the suburban feel of a working-class community.
You just won’t see any of the Conners walking around.
How Does Elgin Compare?
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- Visas - You will need to start your Visa process about four months ahead of time to make sure you complete all the tasks. Customs will check your Visa when you arrive in the country, but you won't need it throughout your visit to Chicagoland.
- Currency - You can only use the U.S. Dollar here. Currency exchanges are available at both major airports serving the region. There's not a huge need for cash here, as credit cards are widely accepted.
- Weather - Winter weather can be dangerously cold, so please pack warm clothing and don't forget gloves/mittens, hats, scarves, and warm socks in addition to a thick coat. Snow boots are great too because even if it doesn't snow while you're there, the sidewalks and trails could still be snowy from the last storm. Summers are going to be humid, but you'll also want a jacket just in case of a cool night or morning.
- Airports - Chicago's O'Hare airport is the closest one to Elgin, and it's about 35 minutes away. Midway International is less than 90 minutes, maybe a little longer if you're in rush hour traffic.
- Travel Insurance - Travel insurance is a great idea in a place where the weather can fluctuate so much and flight cancellations can happen even from the ripple effects of weather in other cities.
Elgin Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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