SimCity Strategy Guides
Crime is an inevitable byproduct of social problems within cities. Unlike the real world, a heavy police presence actually does work to reduce crime in SimCity, even in dreaded casino cities which seem to cause the most wealthy and snooty Sims to lose their heads and turn to armed robbery and murder for excitement.
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Crime will negatively impact on your cities in a number of ways. Homes and businesses that are targeted by criminals will develop considerable unhappiness for a number of days after the event, additionally neighbouring buildings will worry about the crime rate. High wealth zones are particularly sensitive to crime and are likely to move out if there is any sort of crime in the area.
Crime can have an economic impact. High crime areas will see commercial demand drop, shops that are stolen from will show reduced profits. Poor homes that are targeted for burglary may run out of money entirely and move out, so you can find some crime ridden areas are constantly collapsing. It can also take money out of the city budget, higher wealth level criminals can commit embezzlement at city buildings which takes money from the treasury. Crime also reduces land value within the local area, which can cause zone degradation.
Many of these factors will be self-perpetuating. The existence of crime will increase unhappiness in a variety of ways, the increased unhappiness makes it more likely that new criminals will be spawned, which makes the crime rate worse.
Gambling specialization buildings are notorious for generating crime, although much of the crime is commited by visitors (according to CSI, the main waste product generated by Las Vegas is skinny dead white girls, this appears to be the same in SimCity). Sadly there's just no way of dealing with that except to have a LOT of police, or possibly think about setting up a nice quiet mining industry instead...
Criminals are generally created in areas where there is significant unhappiness. Lack of education, sickness, low land value, inadequate zoning and unemployment are all factors that can conspire to create criminals. Once spawned criminals will go about committing crimes and whatever else criminals do, until they are arrested. Once individual criminal agents have been arrested often enough, they will disappear back into the 'normal' population.
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Much like other negative aspects of SimCity, pollution, fires, sickness etc, it's better not to have crime in the first place! However once you do, it's important to get it under control by providing sufficient police coverage.
The number of patrol cars is supposed to affect the size of the patrolled area and therefore the influence of the police. In practice the area covered by the small police station is laughably tiny, only the large precinct gives any real patrol radius, and even then it takes a lot of time and patrol vehicles to properly develop.
Criminal agents have 7 'levels', their criminal level reduces each time they are arrested. Once their level reaches 0, they become a normal Sim. Criminals who have a criminal level above 0, but who are not currently committing a crime will persist in your city, however the higher your police presence, the more likely it is they will stay home and not commit crimes - or possibly they're just sparking up a fat one whilst they plan their next bank heist? Who knows? One thing is clear, however, SimCity takes a 'guilty until proven innocent' approach to civil liberties.
"Why did the SimCity policeman cross the road?
The point being that the police patrols are subject to the same poor pathfinding decisions as other vehicles, both when patroling and when responding to emergencies.
Heavy traffic and other road network issues will reduce the spread of your police force's area of influence. Additionally they will often avoid areas of the road network that are somewhat isolated from the rest of the city (i.e. if there's a neighborhood with only one entrance / exit road). Either that or several cars will go into it and it'll become the most heavily patrolled section of the entire city.
Just like other emergency vehicles they can easily get stuck behind buses and garbage trucks leading to response failure. If police cars don't show up at a crime scene within a limited amount of time (I believe it's supposed to be about 2 hours), then the criminal will get away. Criminals who are not arrested after commiting a crime will gain a level if their current level is less than 7.
Once your police have arrested a criminal they need somewhere to put them. You need enough jail capacity but I recommend keeping an eye on your jail inmate numbers, as the jails are not cheap to maintain, and can quickly become surplus to requirement if the crime rate suddenly drops.
As noted above, criminals who are caught and arrested will lose a level on SimCity's scale of criminality. They will spend a number of days in jail before being released. Those who still have a criminal level will continue to commit new crimes after release, the nature of those crimes is dependant on their defined wealth level (only medium and high wealth criminals can commit tax fraud and embezzlement). Hopefully if you have enough police they'll continue to get arrested and eventually stop being a criminal.
If you've ever looked at the crime map you've probably noticed that the police don't arrest criminals who are simply wandering around the city. To reduce the number of inactive criminals you will either need to add detectives to your precinct, or tackle the fundamental causes of crime, whilst providing enough patrols to keep arresting active criminals.
Spending a lot of money on fighting crime tends to result in continuing to spend a lot of money just to keep up with the problem, especially if you have a large casino business. Adding parks, extra police stations and so on, to prop up higher wealth areas against the negative influence of crime can be done, but ultimately it never makes the problem go away.
Education, on the other hand, can make a big difference. A city which has an educational level of 1 (out of 5) has a reduced chance of residential buildings spawning low wealth criminals (burglary, mugging, shop lifting etc). An educational level of 3 (out of 5) will reduce the instances of higher wealth criminals spawning (tax evasion, embezzlement). A fully educated house will almost never spawn criminals (look for bright green buildings on your education data map).
Avoiding unemployment is very important. In general it's much easier in SimCity to run a city with unfilled jobs rather than unemployed Sims but if you do have more residents than jobs, you'll find Sims running out of money and turning to a life of crime! De-zone some residential in areas of financial hardship and zone more industrial or commercial.
Unhappiness tends to breed criminals. Parks can be a quick fix, but take care not to disrupt the balance of your wealth levels within zones as this can lead to RCI imbalance which can often lead to all sorts of problems. For more wide-ranging issues, check your happiness data map and look for areas with issues.
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I bought the special edition with the Heroes & Villians DLC - was it worth it? No. Although I did have about 5 minutes of entertainment watching the police in one of my casino cities attempting to lock up all of Dr Vue's henchmen. Dr Vue's tower does bring some reasonable benefits, providing freight shipping, encouraging tourists and such, but the puddle of crime it brings with it makes it a less than savoury option. Plus I got pretty sick and tired of bring prompted to accept the associated challenges, the only solution being to turn off all challenges!
I think it's utterly fitting that not only does 'superhero' (superzero) Maxis Man require YOU and your tax paying Simizens to fork out $900 /hr to keep him in the luxury of Maxis Manor, but he also expects to get PAID to go out and rescue people and catch criminals. Only EA would consider such a character a 'hero'. More to the point, until you've invested (heavily) in his upgrades, he doesn't actually do any crime fighting, the basic option is to save injured Sims, which he does less efficently than your city ambulances and for about 4 times the cost.
At time of writing this piece of DLC is not actually available to purchase (making it not DLC I guess...), but I'm sure it will be at some point, and judging by the exorbitant prices EA are demanding for the European buildings, I don't imagine that the Heroes & Villians will be a snip. My advice is unless you literally have money to burn, don't buy this. It's utterly, utterly banal and pointless.