Thornton named safest city, but rating is based on inaccurate stats

THORNTON, Colo. -- Twice this year the city of Thornton has been named the safest city in America.

The reports come from organizations that pulled crime statistics from the FBI.

FOX31 has learned the stats are not only misleading but also inaccurate.

For several years Thornton has been one of the fastest-growing Colorado cities.

It’s why the city is building a new police substation and adding 50 new officers by next year. But what people moving into Thornton might be surprised to learn is it’s not actually the safest city in America as several websites and organizations have stated.

Metro real estate agent Sara Garza knows what potential home buyers are looking for in a community.

“A safe community is very important to everybody,” said Garza, a broker associate realtor with Slifer Smith & Frampton Denver, Inc.

Safety however, can depend on where you’re getting your facts.

“I think just overall being careful where you're getting the information from.  Not only checking one source, checking a multitude of sources,” said Garza.

Earlier this year ApartmentList.com and Alarms.com named Thornton as the safest city in the U.S citing crime stats from the FBI.

“Which is hard because a lot of times you don’t know exactly where that information is getting pulled from, how recent it is, how detailed it is and how accurate overall,” said Garza.

Problem Solvers learned the stats the websites used aren’t accurate. Thornton police didn’t report the number of violent crimes committed in the city because of a new system they say had glitches.

While the websites cite only 325 violent crimes, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation shows close to 1,400 reported murders, rapes, robberies and assaults in Thornton last year.

“Quoting crime statistics is one of those things that we have to rely on the actual law enforcement entities to be able to quote them,” Garza said.

So for those looking to move into a new community Garza says research is key.

“It’s up to us as responsible citizens to do our own research and not rely on anyone else to put us in a situation where we don’t have control over,” she said.

Thornton police say they didn't correct the websites earlier reports of being the safest city in America because we didn’t reach out for comment.

But when asked to speak with a reporter on camera Wednesday, the department declined. ​

Editors note: The original version of this article incorrectly said Apartments.com was source of the report. We have since corrected the mistake. We're sorry for the error.