9 Zip Codes: Crime Rates in Boca Raton

west-boca-zipsThis is the second in our series on crime rates. Part 1 compared arrest statistics in West Boca with East Boca and with the rest of Palm Beach County.
In this second part, we will look at arrests in West Boca and East Boca only, by individual zip code. We’ve figured out which zip codes have the most arrests and which have the fewest.
As discussed in Part 1 there’s no perfect way to break down east and west. We generally define West Boca as including zip codes 33428, 33498, 33496, 33434 and 33433.
East Boca includes zip codes 33431, 33432, 33486 and 33487. The division is a rough compromise between the city boundaries and using Congress, Military Trail and/or St. Andrews Blvd. as the break line. One East Boca friend tells us that I-95 should be the divider. Others think it should be the Turnpike or Jog Road. But zip codes are useful so that’s what we’re doing.
Let’s start with the zip codes that have the fewest arrests. To be clear, we are referring to the address listed for the person arrested. We do not have information on where the arrests or alleged crimes took place, so this is what we have to go on.
Three West Boca zips are in a virtual tie. With only 1.1 arrests per thousand residents, zip code 33434 generally runs from 441 to St. Andrews between Yamato and Glades. Just barely higher at 1.2 arrests per 1000 is zip code 33496, a rectangle from 441 to Military Trail north of Yamato. Tied with that number is zip code 33498, west of 441 and north of Glades. That is using arrests per population. If we go by counts, 33496 is actually the lowest with 2 counts per thousand, just below 33434 with 2.1 counts per thousand and 33498 is a bit higher at 2.4 counts per thousand.
Mostly south of the 33434 zip code between Lyons and St. Andrews/Military Trail south of Glades Road, 33433 had more arrests with 1.6 per thousand and more counts with 2.6 per thousand. The highest arrest rate in West Boca is 33428, the home zip code for West Boca News. We had 2.4 arrests per thousand residents and 4.5 counts per thousand. The number of counts for 33428 was inflated somewhat by one man arrested for 36 counts of sexual assault on a  child.
Our spreadsheet with the data is below, including some demographic statistics and numbers for East Boca as well.
While the numbers for 33428 might seem high, they’re actually in line with three of the East Boca zip codes, 33487, 33486 and 33431. The worst zip code in all of Boca Raton is 33432, with 4.2 arrests and 8.8 counts per thousand residents. Keep in mind that the rest of the county has an even higher crime rate with 12 counts per thousand. So even the worst zip code in all of Boca is significantly safer.
Demographics may play an interesting role in the numbers. Zip code 33434 has the lowest arrest rate and also has the oldest population with a median age over 62 years old. Approximately half the population of 33434 lives in either Century Village or Boca West, two very large developments filled with seniors. Meanwhile 33428 has the youngest population in West Boca with a median age of 41 years old.
Regular readers of West Boca News will have noticed a lot of arrests in the Sandalfoot area (and the Sandalfoot KKK guy). That area is mostly in 33428 but also includes the western edge of 33433. It may explain the higher arrest rates in those two zip codes, though on the other hand Sandalfoot may be unfairly stigmatized.
We’re not quite done with this project. In Part 3 we will be talking about the worst zip codes in the whole county. It’s going to take us a while to get through all the data so don’t expect that article for a couple weeks or longer.
To see Part 1 of the series, click this link: How bad is crime in West Boca?

How Bad is Crime in West Boca?

After hearing concerns that our arrest reports were making West Boca look bad, we decided to do some research. We have good news.
We’re doing a three-part series on crime statistics in West Boca, Boca Raton, and Palm Beach County. In this first part of the series, we compare West Boca to East Boca, and both to the county as a whole.

Update: In Part 2 we look at arrest rates by zip code in all of Boca Raton.

We requested data on every person booked by the Palm Beach County Sheriff in the first quarter of 2014. That data includes the zip code of the arrested person’s residence. Boca Raton has nine zip codes. There are various ways to break down east vs. west. For this exercise (and for other purposes) we define West Boca as being the following five zip codes: 33428, 33498, 33496, 33434 and 33433, with a total population of roughly 135,000 people.
west-boca-zipsEast Boca is then the remaining four zip codes, 33431, 33432, 33486 and 33487, with 75,000 people.
The breakdown isn’t perfect. The city’s own data shows the municipal population at 84,000.
Here’s what the city lines look like:
Boca Raton City Map
There is no perfect division of east and west, but the zip codes are very helpful here because each arrest has a zip code associated with it.
It’s also important to note here that the Sheriff’s data includes every count someone’s arrested for as a separate line. In other words, if someone is arrested for battery and for resisting, that’s two counts. In January a man in West Boca was arrested for 36 counts of sexual assault on a minor. That kind of data could really skew the numbers.
So does it make sense to compare crime by number of counts, or by number of arrests? Again there’s no perfect answer. However within Boca, both east and west were close to 1.8 counts per arrest so it shouldn’t matter within Boca. And for county-wide numbers, it would be a lot of work to reduce to just arrests so we’re just going with counts.
West Boca Has Low Crime
The two biggest results we have to report are first that West Boca has a lower crime rate than East Boca, and that Boca as a whole has a much lower crime rate than the county as a whole.
In West Boca there were 1.7 arrests and 2.9 counts per thousand people in the first quarter. East Boca had significantly higher numbers with 2.9 arrests and 5.4 counts per 1000 people. While this might make East Boca seem bad, their numbers are actually much better than the county as a whole.
Palm Beach County has a population of about 1.35 million, and there were almost 15,000 counts county-wide, which means the county crime rate of 11 counts per 1000 people. Taking Boca out of the data gets it to over 12 counts per 1000 people in the rest of the county (i.e. north of Boca). So crime rates in the rest of the county are twice as high as East Boca and almost four times as high as West Boca
We’re still working on the data. In the next part we will go through Boca Raton to see which zip codes have the most arrests and which have the least.

Please keep in mind that there are all kinds of potential problems with our analysis. We did not look at the type or severity of the crimes people were arrested for – at least not yet. Counts can be felonies, misdemeanors, non-criminal infractions, probation violations, recommits and others. We did not (and could not) look at crimes by where they happened, instead relying on the address of the person arrested. Of course, people are innocent until proven guilty and the numbers cannot account for guilt. And there are other problems we haven’t even thought of. Comparing and contrasting our analysis and data with Crime Statistics Australia might aid us in deepening our future analysis, increasing the data range that we can draw on to better judge the local crime trends.