Crime hotspots across Toronto neighbourhoods

(October 29, 2012 Update: CBC release of police crime data by type and neighbourhood)

Today, Stats Can released a hot product: a report on crime in Toronto.  Even though we are one of the safer metropolitan areas on the continent, Neighbourhood Characteristics and the Distribution of Police-reported Crime in the City of Toronto is sure to draw some attention.

Produced by Mathieu Charron at the Canadian Centre for Crime Statistics, the report looks at the location of reported crimes and the characteristics of the neighbourhoods in which they occurred.

The data, drawn from Statistic Canada’s Uniform Crime Reporting Survey (UCR)  “reflect reported crime that has been substantiated by police.” 106,175 incidents were clustered and mapped across the city.

The reports differentiates between violent crime and property crime, finding different correlations. The pattern shows that low-income and nearby neighbourhoods are more likely to suffer spillover effects.

Dividing crimes into violent and property ones, the report found:

  • Neighbourhoods with higher violent crime rates tend to have less access to resources. Education level of residents was one of the best predictors of such access.These neighbourhoods also tended to be “densely populated and have a higher percentage of residents living in multi-unit dwellings” (the tall towers which are the focus of the Mayor’s renewal efforts.) These neighbourhoods are also more likely to have more children, more single-parent families, more renters, and more people of colour.
  • Property crime (theft, break & enter) is concentrated around shopping centres, both large and small, in commercial districts, and in neighbourhoods around these places. Areas with high levels of education or a high portion of manufacturing and office jobs were less likely to report property crime.

Criminologists recognize the spatial patterns of crime. Crime comes in hot spots around the city. Mapping out various criminal activities, the report’s spatial crime patterns follow the same deprivation “U” which marks less privileged areas of the city. Densely populated cores, transportation and shopping hubs, which all draw large numbers of people, tended to report higher crime rates.

The report does not rank or rate specific neighbourhoods, however it did describe “some hot spots…Danforth, downtown east side, and the intersections of Lawrence and Morningside, Jane and Finch, and Jane and Eglinton.”

Here, for those who like the gory details, is what I could see on the maps. The highest levels of crime clustered in the following places:

  • Breaking & Entering: Downsview, Bridle Path, Lawrence Park,Don Mills
  • Drug offense: Jane-Finch, York, Dufferin Grove, Parkdale, New Toronto/Mimico, Trinity-Bellwoods, Regent Park, Greenwood- Woodbine, Crescent Town, Birchcliff, Cliffcrest, Scarborough Village, Kingston-Gallow, Woburn.
  • Major Assault: Jane-Finch, Jane-401, York, Downtown west & east, Lawrence-Kingston Road.
  • Minor Assault: Rexdale, Jane-FinchDownsview, Jane-401, Dufferin-Bloor, Parkdale, Don River-Gerrard, Danforth, Kingston Road, Woburn, Malvern
  • Mischief:  Riverdale, Cabbage Town, York, Morningside/Highland Creek.
  • Motor Vehicle Theft: Etobicoke, Scarborough (where car ownership rates are higher)
  • Robbery: Rexdale, Jane-Finch, Jane-Sheperd, York, Danforth, Woburn
  • Sexual Assault: Rexdale, Jane-Finch, Jane-401, High Park, Bloor-Danforth, Kingston Road
  • Theft: Dispersed along waterfront and main roads
  • Theft from Motor Vehicle: Pearson Airport, Willowdale, High Park, Downtown (west & east), Riverdale, University of Toronto, Scarborough

In contrast, the city’s financial district and the north end of Yonge Street were identified as areas with lower rates of violence. In essence, the central neighbourhoods of the city are higher-income and safer areas, while neighbourhoods with poor physical infrastructure and social resources were more likely to have higher levels of police involvement.

So, the final word probably best belongs to Canadian housing activist Michael Shapcott who wryly noted in his Twitter feed about the study, “Plenty of crime in rich, white neighbourhoods (fraud, tax cheating, ‘white collar’), it just doesn’t get policed/reported.”

The City of Toronto’s website Wellbeing Toronto is a good source of neighbourhood-level data for seven major crime categories among a range of other demographic data..

The National Post has a static map of murders in Toronto from 2006-2012. (Bizarrely it’s sideways so makes the city look like Chicago.)

The Toronto Star has a mapped out a range of crimes by FSA (Forward Sortation Area: the first three digits of a postal code).

Violent Crime


Breaking and entering

The Toronto Police Services also maps the location of recent incidences.

See also other posts:

New Stats Can Study: Youth Crime Patterns in Toronto Neighbourhoods

Wellbeing Toronto

Mapping Jail and University Admissions

Crime and Social Cohesion in Toronto Neighbourhoods

6 Responses to “Crime hotspots across Toronto neighbourhoods”

  1. Toronto is a good place to be in but crime all across has made it look ugly. Measures should be taken to prevent crime.


  2. SpotCrime has been mapping crime in Toronto for a year now.


  3. Statistics are a powerful tool in crime prevention.

    This report can help city planners, police and residents make tough decisions.

    Being a locksmith in Toronto I know well that some areas of the city have more break and enters than others. Usually this is because of low income housing overwhelming that area.

    I often use Toronto Police Services Statistical reports to help new home owners choose what security devices to install.

    The Toronto Star crime maps are a great resource for home owners.

    My hope is that Toronto’s decision makers will use this information to reduce crime in the city.


  4. I like your blog. Here’s my latest Twitter post: Rules of on-street parking in Toronto: An amusing look at local culture in downtown neighbourhoods.” I included a link to your blog.

    I’ve been reading your postings off and on for some time. but I’m going to be a regular now.

    Chris Leo

    Research-based blog:



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