This post reminded me of living in Cambridge. When I was deciding where to go to law school, many people pointed out that the University of Chicago is in a high crime area. Nobody ever mentioned this about Cambridge. I looked up some maps showing reported crimes, though, and was surprised to find that crime in the immediate area of the campus was about the same for both schools.
Of course, once I moved to Cambridge people were better informed. They couldn't help but be; every week or two, a new crime report email would pop into our box, informing us of a mugging, burglary, or assault. Since I am female and very small, many well-meaning people told me I shouldn't walk alone at night, and that I especially should not take the relatively untrafficked shortcut through the divinity school to get back to my house. They were right to point out that very few people walked there at night and that it was less well-lit than the straight main street to the south that led directly to my home. But taking the latter route added 5-10 minutes to my trip, increasing the time I spent alone, and more crimes were reported in the area the law school than east of it, making my route safer.
So did I choose my route home out of fear? I still don't know.