Figures don’t Lie, but Liars Figure

By JD Miller, CPA


If you live in Vallejo, you’re actually living in one of the safest cities in California.

A Mark Twain quotes goes like this: “Figures don’t Lie, but Liars Figure.”

What this means is that you should read anything using statistics very carefully. You can find statistics to prove almost anything. You should also pay careful attention to anything you read when statistics are used. They may not be telling you what the author may be telling you.

A good example is an article in the Times Herald on December 19, 2014 headlined New list puts Vallejo among the state’s most dangerous places.

The article was reporting on a report from Movoto Real Estate. Apparently, the FBI ranked Vallejo as the 6th most dangerous city (in California) based on crime statistics according to SFList.

However, the statistics quoted towards the end of the article support the fact that Vallejo is among the safest cities. Here are those statistics.

SFList says there are eight violent crimes per 61,000 residents in Vallejo, compared to Oakland’s 19 per 77,000 and Fairfield’s four for every 59,000. The state average is three violent crimes for every nearly 4,000 residents, according to the FBI.

Being a numbers guy (I’m a CPA.), these statistics struck me as very strange. Let me explain.

According to the FBI, the there are three violent crimes on average for every 4,000 residents in California. Said differently, there are 45 violent crimes for every 61,000 residents in California.

SFList reports that there are eight violent crimes per 61,000 residents in Vallejo.

The last time I checked, 8 is less than 45. As you know, it takes a lot of cities with more than 45 violent crimes to bring the average up to 45.

Vallejo must be among the safest cities in California because the number of violent crimes, 8 is far below the state average of 45.


Note: All opinions expressed in the “Primal Scream” column are those of the writer and not necessarily those of the Vallejo Independent Bulletin.

'Figures don’t Lie, but Liars Figure' have 3 comments

  1. December 30, 2014 @ 12:44 pm decentamerican

    Thank you for opening the public’s eye to facts and truth ….

    We need the same regarding cities budget, every month !!!

    May God Bless You & Your Family —- we are fortunate to have you here JD.


  2. December 31, 2014 @ 6:16 am Bong Hit

    JD, If you look at the FBI data that’s available you will find the following stats.

    Forcible Rape (this should get your attention JD and the attention of your clients)
    Vallejo: 59
    Fairfield: 18
    Vacaville: 27

    Vallejo: 458
    Fairfield: 185
    Vacaville: 71

    Property Crime
    Vallejo: 5101
    Fairfield: 3395
    Vacaville: 1866

    Vallejo: 2249
    Fairfield: 757
    Vacaville: 322

    Violent Crime
    Vallejo: 822
    Fairfield: 502
    Vacaville: 272


  3. January 1, 2015 @ 2:39 pm Anonymous

    Instead of letting us know that we can all rest easy because we live in such a safe place, what letter writer JD Miller has really done (“What the numbers on Vallejo really say”, Dec. 29) is point out the faulty reporting by the Vallejo Times-Herald when it comes to Vallejo’s crime statistics. According to a recent article (“New list puts Vallejo among the state’s most dangerous places”, Dec. 19) by Rachel Raskin-Zrihen, “… there are eight violent crimes per 61,000 residents in Vallejo, compared to Oakland’s 19 per 77,000 and Fairfield’s four for every 59,000. The state average is three violent crimes for every nearly 4,000 residents.” Not true. Sorry, no cigar this time.

    What the FBI report really says is that there are 3.93 violent crime incidents per 1000 residents for the entire state of California, not three for every 4,000. This is much different and it’s an important difference.

    The safest Bay Area cities have less than ONE violent crime per 1000 persons. Those were Hillsborough (with 0 crimes!), Clayton (0.18/1000) San Ramon (0.36/1000), Danville (.39/1000), Saratoga (0.45/1000), Foster City (.46/1000), Orinda (.54/1000), Moraga (.66/1000), Cupertino (.68/1000), and Los Altos (.76/1000). With 8.61 crimes per 1000 residents, we are more than 10 times the crime rate of some of these cities and rank amongst the most violent cities per capita in the entire state of California, period, done, end of discussion.

    The reality is that no matter how much you want to hide your head in the sand, be glad we aren’t some other city, pray it away or just pretend that things are rosy, they aren’t. We have more violent crime in Vallejo (murder and non-negligent manslaughter, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, property crime, burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson, according to the FBI) per person than almost all other cities in California. It’s unacceptable and it’s destroying Vallejo. Something must be done and to fix it will take the entire community and all it’s leaders.


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