To be truly honest I’d have to say yes and no. Are the Poconos a safer place to live then Philadelphia or New York? I’d have to say most definitely yes. What determines that though? Is it the area itself? Is it the number of people living in this area versus a major city? Who knows.
What I do know is that we have had our fair share of crime and issues that might turn some people off:
Gangs have become such an increasing issue that the Monroe County Gang Task Force was created last year. According to the Pocono Record the task force is tracking a family tree of New York and New Jersey gangs moving into the Poconos. One draw to the area is the increasing number of cheap foreclosures, the other is easy access to I-80 makes it very easy for transportation of drugs from the bigger cities into the Poconos. Many “original” Pocono-ers who have grown up in the area have a bad taste in their mouth when it comes to commuters or transplants moving into the area. This paragraph from the Pocono Record sums up most their fears “Families buy homes and move here hoping for a better life, but find low-paying jobs when they arrive. Unable to make the mortgage, they commute to better jobs, leaving kids to fend for themselves. Parents leaving kids alone for a week at a time is alarmingly common in the Poconos. No parents, no school €” truancy becomes a problem.”
“Parents leave $100 and the oldest in charge. Pretty soon there is a party, rape, drugs,” Ortiz said. “Kids have a wanting to feel affection. When there is none at home they turn to their friends.” These are the kids gangs prey on.
If you’re looking to buy a home in the Poconos and find a great house at a great price – make sure you do your homework on the area. Many of the gated communities although you might assume they are safer then ungated communities or even homes not in communities at all end up being quite the opposite. “In New York, gangs have territories. In the Poconos, conflicting gang members live next door. That creates tense neighborhoods in places such as A Pocono Country Place, where a mix of gang members live in close proximity. Other hot spots for gangs include Saw Creek, Pocono Farms East and Penn Estates. Weapons, fights and drugs are part of the landscape. Private communities, where municipal police don’t patrol, plus bargain-priced housing is an invitation to lawlessness. But the criminal element can be found everywhere, including drug dealers on Main Streetin Stroudsburg, Varkanis said.”
For more information on gangs in the Pocono area: http://www.poconorecord.com/apps/pbcs.dll/section?category=NEWS0924
Deanna Marie Null was murdered in January and her body was dismembered and placed in bags that were spread across I-380 and I-80. Its a disturbing story to say the least: http://www.poconorecord.com/apps/pbcs.dll/section?category=NEWS0947
Her murdered was convicted and sentenced to death
Lee Van Luvender was murdered in December ’07 and the murder was featured on America’s Most Wanted in April 2008. Billboards were put up offering a reward leading to his death being solved, although he was going hunting that day it has been determined that it was definitely not a hunting accident that ended his life. Again, its mentioned about how as the Poconos expands, so do the crimes. “From Sleepy Hollow to Bustling Metropolis – Cops say the Pocono Mountains region, once the best-kept vacation secret in Pennsylvania, known for its pristine beauty and resort feel, has exploded over the last few years. They say its growth, due in part to the introduction of a new casino in the area, has transformed the resort town from a sleepy hollow to a bustling metropolis, drawing gamblers from New York and New Jersey, but cops say it also draws transients as well.”
Robberies, shootings and more
The Poconos has had its fair share of crime, although recently it does seem escalated – In April 2008 the manager at the Arby’s in Stroudsburg was stabbed when he went back inside after closing up for the night and walked in on a robbery in progress. A fight at a McDonalds in April led to a handgun being fired into the ground(thank gosh).
There are plenty of accounts of recent crime activity in the Poconos. I think the biggest question people have to ask themselves when they are looking to move into the area is if the Poconos are really any worse off crime wise then other areas of the county. I definitely think that the crime rates have risen over the years, the only numbers I could find I’m not sure are even valid: http://www.disastercenter.com/pennsylv/crime/11478.htm and again, the number of people that move into the area each year is bound to increase crime – the question is if its proportional or not.
My advice is to do your homework and thoroughly investigate the area which you’re moving too. A great place for free advice is http://pocono.commuterclub.org contrary to its name its not a site for commuters and people are very willing to give their honest opinions whether you’re open to hear it or not. So if you post on their forums “hey I’m looking to purchase a home in this area/community, can I get some input from other people that live there or have” you’ll most likely get some kind of response that should help make your decision. I would check with your realtor as well as to any crime statistics they have, and trust your gut – if it feels odd and seems to good to be true it probably is. As a homeowner myself I had to convince myself “if we don’t get that house there is a reason for it”….months and many of potential houses and disappointments later we’re thoroughly satisfied with the home we finally purchased and looking back its the ideal home compared to what we were looking at. Don’t sacrifice safety for a better price on a home – make sure wherever you choose to live that you’re comfortable being there.
Although I feel strongly that the Poconos are definitely a step back from big city living, there is less crime, in general people are more laid back, less hostile, less stressed – it still comes with its own set of issues like any area. You will face new challenges – community living, deer eating your flowers, septic mounds and wells but in my opinion the pros far outweigh the cons and still make the Poconos one of the most beautiful relaxing areas to live in.