In case anyone missed it, here is a pretty serious (and scary) story from this weekend that has gone unaddressed on the site. Two people were shot in what was reported to be a drive-by shooting on Centre St. near the intersection with Wyman. The car was later recovered parked at Chestnut and Sheridan.
The Globe report does not indicate if the shooting was random, targeted, or mis-targeted; however, it seems safe to assume that the 15 year old girl who was hit was an innocent bystander.
And even that's not totally representative. You have to take into account the overall population (Boston ~600k, Cambridge ~100k) and figure out "what's the chance something like this will actually happen to me?" Oh and also figure out what the demographics are for a certain type of victim and where you fall in various socio-economic levels, or patterns (like if you lock your windows and hide laptops, avoid dark and scary shortcuts from the T, etc).
If you REALLY want to get into it, check out the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports, but even their own page cautions against using it to compare towns and rank them by safety. So many factors influence whether or not you're going to be a victim of some type of crime.
Bottom line: be smart and live wherever you want to call home.
I also appreciate a sober look at the stats, since (for better or worse) they allow for an unemotional look at the situation. Crime in America is generally lower than in most other countries. As major American cities go, Boston's crime rate is fairly low. As Boston neighborhoods go, JP falls somewhere in the middle. But that doesn't really make it feel better when shootings are happening up the street with a degree of regularity.
Furthermore, the sites you provided show one significant difference in crime rates between the cited cities: Cambridge's crime log is dominated by theft and vandalism, whereas Boston's is heavy with shootings, assaults, and robberies. As you said, the majority of violent crime is targeted, but that doesn't make it easier to live amongst.
(However, the stats provided by those sites - at least the "stats" version - are either inaccurate or I'm misreading them. I find it incredibly hard to believe that there were no burglaries in all of Boston in the last two weeks. Furthermore, stats are also dependent on reporting. A resident of Boston, given the prevelance of serious crime like shootings and robberies, may be less likely to report simple vandalism than a resident of cushier Cambridge. For a primer on how unscientific crime stats really are, I suggest watching The Wire.)
There are so many problems with crime stats! There are studies out there where "actual" crime gets compared to reported crime (I think they interview loads of people and ask about what crimes they've been victims of and then compare those numbers to police reports). One example would be how under reported sexual assault is on college campuses. No one wants to send their kid to a school where they might be assaulted, so they try to keep their reported numbers down.
But these numbers most certainly get used for funding or taking action in certain areas, by the police department. So when theft happens, be sure to report it!
Todd, after telling all of us what you would have done to improve your neighborhood in JP if you were a different person in a different time with different priorities you took some time to lecture those who remain there on what they should do to improve the neighborhood you were leaving.
As you note here with some celebratory flourish, you have moved. Yet you return to this discussion in an apparent attempt to settle some sort of argumentative score on the back of a drive-by shooting injuring 5 in Egleston Square, a neighborhood in which you did not live, but is also in JP.
Are you satisfied now? Do you feel as though you have made your point? I feel like I get it. You didn't have an enjoyable time here. Stop trying to get the rest of us to hate JP too.