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
Skokie, Illinois, is a cultural melting pot of Chicago’s northside and the state as a whole.
38% of the city’s residents were born outside of the United States.
The culture is as rich as its economic base, with most of the services here getting an AAA bond rating for efficient and vibrant economic leadership.
Skokie has come a long way from its namesake meaning “marsh” and is now home to nearly 70,000 people.
One of the wetlands controversies was spurred by the second of two cases in Skokie that made it all the way to the Supreme Court of the nation.
The first case involving freedom of speech was turned into a movie in the 1980s aptly named “Skokie.”
The diversity of Skokie shows in every part of the community, from the unique festivals held throughout the year to the thriving restaurant scene to the unique shopping opportunities.
It also has a wide variety of tourist attractions, including one named the “Top Rainy Day Destination” in the entire Chicago area.
The transparency of the local government and police force is refreshing as I can give you great insight into not only the crime rates but what’s driving those rates.
There is always more of a story to a city’s crime numbers than can be seen at first glance.
Warnings & Dangers in Skokie
OVERALL RISK : LOW
There's a low overall risk in Skokie. The violent crime rate is lower than the state and national average, and while the property crime rate is higher, I've found some great information that explains that. We'll talk about that shortly.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
There are many communities in Chicago that don't have access to the coveted "L" train, but Skokie does. You can also use the PACE bus service for travel and taxis or rideshares will be there within minutes of being summoned. All options come with low risk, but with any public transportation in a big city, use common sense safety.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
There's a low risk, even though the theft rate is higher than the national average. Shoplifting accounts for 35% of the thefts here, according to the 2021 Annual Police Report from Skokie Police.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
You've got a severe weather risk here any time of the year, but there's always plenty of warning before a storm comes and it's up to you to stay informed and take action. Severe thunderstorms, flooding, and tornadoes can happen when the weather is warm, but it is particularly active in spring. Winters can come with snowstorms or even blizzards and temperatures can get a wind chill below zero. There's low risk on an average day, but when there's a weather watch out, that risk is medium.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
There were 35 robberies in Skokie in 2021, and police want to punctuate that a robbery doesn't always mean a stranger being attacked. Nearly 15% of the robberies in 2021 were among people who knew each other and two of those were drug-related crimes. While the robbery risk is still below the national average, it's important to remember if you are a victim, don't fight back. Just be as good of a witness as you can be so you can escape alive.
TERRORISM RISK : MEDIUM
Any city in Chicagoland, unfortunately, is at medium risk. With a population nearing 10 million, that's a definite attractive quality for terrorists. However, Homeland Security is well at work in ways you'll never see protecting the city. Skokie wouldn't be a hard target itself.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
The Better Business Bureau in Skokie lists a bunch of scams happening, but none are targeted at tourists and they are the common scams happening across the nation. There's a low risk here, but it's wise to avoid trying to buy scalped tickets to a baseball game or other event. Never buy gift cards in exchange for a service or prize, and if someone asks you to wire money for anything - run.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
Women are safe but should be cautious, in Skokie. There's nothing in the crime data that suggests a woman is at greater risk, but there are some sketchy parts of this community. Don't wander around at night, stay on main roads, and drive with your car doors locked. The Skokie Police Department has a whole page on its website dedicated to learning how to avoid being carjacked, which tells me this is a very common problem.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
I've read more Consumer Confidence Water Quality Reports than the average human, and generally, it will have a throwaway line of "the water is safe." Skokie went a little more specific on theirs, so I want to share it with you: "Skokie residents can be confident that every gallon, every glass of their drinking water exceeds the federal standards set by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA)."
Safest Places to Visit in Skokie
Skokie is a place where indoor and outdoor people can all find something to do.
One of the top attractions is the Exploratorium, which is the place I mentioned earlier as being a top rainy day destination.
This is a place where children and adults can explore waterworks, a locomotive room, a massive Light Bright wall, and a system of tubes and tunnels that go up nearly three stories tall.
Westfield Old Orchard is an open-air mall with plenty of shopping and dining options.
There are more than 100 stores here and the kids won’t be bored with the play area designed just for them.
There’s also a movie theater there.
If you look at the website for the mall, you’ll see a list of all the sales going on during a particular day or week.
Downtown Skokie has several venues to keep you busy, including the Heritage Museum, and you’ll find more unique shopping here than at a traditional mall.
This area has undergone mass improvements in the past decade or so, giving it a more modern vibe.
Emily Oaks Nature Center covers 13 acres of woods with wildflower gardens, a pond, and some incredible bird sightings if you’re into that.
The park service here has you covered during any season, with an ice rink and a water park.
To get a great sense of the culture here, check out the schedule at the Devonshire Cultural Center before you visit.
Art lovers will want to see the Sculpture Park with four sections hosting dozens of unique displays from all cultures and locally creative minds.
If you are visiting May, you shouldn’t miss the Festival of Cultures, one of the top events in the city.
Places to Avoid in Skokie
Looking at crime maps, the west side and northwest side have the highest numbers of crimes.
With so much to do in Skokie, you really shouldn’t find yourself driving around looking for fun.
However, it’s smart to stay on the main streets, especially on the west side of the city.
Some of the neighborhoods can be hit or miss.
If you are ever in an area and your intuition kicks in with some anxiety, trust that feeling and go to another part of the community.
You should never leave your car unlocked or worse – unlocked while it’s running.
I know many people like to warm their cars up before driving, but even the police are baffled at how many cars continue to get stolen this way.
In 2021, 63% of the cars stolen here were either unlocked or unlocked and turned on when they were taken.
Speaking a second language is only going to benefit you here with such a diverse community.
Even the city documents are now printed in eight different languages.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Skokie
- I’ve seen several Chicago communities send this warning about the “Bump & Run” method of carjacking. This is when someone bumps you from behind. Once you pull over, the person lures you out of the car and then steals it. Always go to the nearest police station if you have any suspicion a fender bender could be a carjacking lure.
- There are many ways to contact the Skokie Police. You can call the non-emergency number at (847)982-5900. You can text a crime tip to the number 847411. You can also email email@example.com.
- As with many big cities, you might come across a rat in Skokie or neighboring communities. While it’s not unusual to see one, you should still report it. The city website has a rat reporting form on its website or you can call (847)933-8484.
- You can receive Nixle.com emergency alerts from the local emergency management agencies by texting your zip code to 888777. This covers severe weather, crime, bad traffic, or missing people. Both Skokie Police and Cook County authorities are there. If you need to use a zip code to get access, use 60076.
- There are tornado emergency sirens in Skokie. These are meant to be heard by people outside, and there’s a good chance you won’t hear them indoors. When the siren goes off, that means there is a tornado that has been spotted by a specialist or is radar indicated and you should seek shelter immediately.
- Skokie does have some bicycle lanes, which not a lot of Illinois communities have, so that’s a bonus. There are also 45 miles of bike paths in the city. When riding with other traffic on the road, you still have to obey all the stoplights and stop signs as if you were a vehicle. When riding at night, wear reflective clothing.
- The street parking rules of Skokie change when there are more than two inches of snow on the ground. You can call (847)675-SNOW(7669) to find out if a snow emergency has been declared. The street parking changes are done so snowplows can get through and make the roads safer for everyone. Skokie does enforce parking regulations with almost 11,000 vehicles cited for violating parking ordinances in 2021.
- You can’t do any fishing here without an Illinois fishing license, which is available at some local retailers and online at the state’s Department of Natural Resources website.
- I bet you wouldn’t have guessed we’d be talking about snowboarding in Illinois, eh? There are some designated snow sledding hills in Skokie and throughout Cook County when more than three inches of snow are on the ground. You can go to Dan Ryan Woods Visitor Center in Chicago, where there’s an entire hill dedicated to snowboarders. You cannot do any sledding on this hill, however.
- The city of Skokie and the popular Skokie Lagoons outdoor area are not in the city place. The lagoons are about 20 minutes north, but we get how the name could be confusing. This is a great place to visit, so it’s worth the trip to do some kayaking, fishing, hiking, or nature walks.
So... How Safe Is Skokie Really?
Skokie is a relatively safe place for a tourist who wants to get a feel for Chicago but doesn’t want to stay in the actual city.
The violent crime rate is half the Illinois and national average, with a one in 543 chance of being a victim.
The assault numbers seem high with a total of 773 assaults.
A change this year put all battery charges in the same classification as assaults, which is why that number is so much higher than the 67 aggravated assaults reported in 2020.
Note that the 773 assaults does not include simple assault, battery, or aggravated assault.
Even with the lower crime rates here, the onus is partially on residents and visitors to keep it safe by practicing basic personal safety and reporting anything suspicious to the police.
How Does Skokie Compare?
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- Visas - You'll need about four months to complete the Visa process if you're visiting from outside the United States. The Visa will be shown to Customs agents when you arrive in the country. You won't' need it for your venture between the cities of Chicago.
- Currency - You can only use the U.S. Dollar here and everything down to the parking meters can take credit cards, so you really don't need to carry cash with you. If you do, make sure you don't carry a large sum that can easily be seen when you open your wallet.
- Weather - The weather here can be unpredictable even from the morning until night, so dressing in layers is helpful thorough the year. Winters can get dangerously cold so pack plenty of warm clothing from head to toe. Summers will be humid, and you'll want to have bug spray to keep away the mosquitos.
- Airports - Skokie is about 10 miles from O'Hare International Airport, which is at least a 30-minute drive through the surface streets. Midway International is about 25 miles south through a heavy traffic corridor, so plan for an hour to that airport.
- Travel Insurance - Travel insurance is great peace of mind when visiting a city with so many variables in the weather.
Skokie Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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