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Crime and personal safety: You should not have a problem with crime in Bloomington-Normal, Illinois -- as the crime rate in this city is among the lowest for U.S. cities of 100,000 - 500,000 population.
However, there are instances of crime against the person, occasionally violent. Almost every area of the city, including the extensive Constutution Trail system, is safe to walk, bicycle, or run in during daylight hours. After dark, there are neighborhoods, especially just west of downtown Bloomington, that are riskier. The downtown itself is generally safe because of the crowds that frequent the restaurant and nightlife districts around North Main street and Front Street, and events at the U.S. Cellular Coliseum and the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts. There are occasional reports of panhandlers in the downtown area, but those instances tend to be unpleasant, not confrontational. Also, things get wilder, with a lot of noise, as hundreds of revelers, mostly young, pour into the streets of downtown at bar closing time (1 a.m. Mo-Fr mornings, 2 a.m. Sa & Su mornings; the city does not allow 4 a.m. licenses), especailly on weekends. Although there is a low risk of physical altercation, it's more comfortable to avoid the downtown parking garages around bar closing times. In general, there should be no concern downtown during normal business and nightlife hours.
Other areas that are frequented by travelers are similarly safe. Major hotel/restaurant districts on West Market Street and the eight-mile stretch of Veterans' Parkway on the east side are very safe, and customers frequent 24-hour restaurants without concern. However, it is not advisable to make the 2-mile walk from the hotels along West Market Street to downtown after dark. Also, a large truck stop at I-55/74 and West Market Street has been the location of some reports of prositution and drug activity.
There are four colleges and universities in the Bloomington area, with 30,000 students plus their visitors from other areas. There have been some instances of drunkeness, fights and even an occasional mugging around Illinois State University and Illinois Wesleyan University, but these are rare and usually involve students and their visitors. In 2005, a female college student was abducted from Illinois State University by a casual acquaintance, taken to Mississippi, and murdered. The perpetrator was apprehended.
Murders (or other serious crimes against the person), especially those involving strangers, are very rare, and there have been no such incidents involving travelers/visitors in recent memory. Reported rapes, especially by acquaintances, are more common. Armed robberies of banks and convenience stores have occurred (especially near major highways), but it is rare for an individual to be robbed at gun or knifepoint on the street.
Pickpockets are almost unheard of, but there have been cases where unattended purses in stores have been stolen or rifled. It is not wise to leave valuables visible in a vehicle while parked overnight in a hotel parking lot, as there have been some break-ins
On the good side, there are occasional letters to city officials or a newspaper from people who have lost a wallet, only to have it returned intact, by an honest resident. In some ways, there is still a small-town feel to Bloomington.
Of course, general advice always applies:
Always be aware of your surroundings and keep an eye on your belongings. When walking through the city at night, it is always safer to travel in groups. When parking, choose a spot underneath or close to a light source. If you have a bad vibe about a certain area, trust your intuition and head the other way. Pickpockets can quickly pick you clean of your money or passport, quickly turning a dream vacation into a nightmare. Make use of your hotel's safe to protect items such as any jewelry you might have brought with you (which, in reality, is best left at home), extra monies, and credit cards. Keep your eyes and a hand on bags at all times, and do not leave your items unattended.
Traveling with traveler’s checques may make good sense if you are traveling for a while and don’t want to have to deal with huge wads of cash. Otherwise, consider using a credit or debit card while traveling; be sure to keep a listing of traveler checque serial numbers and any relevant airline tickets, credit card numbers, and the like separate from the originals. This will make your life much easier if the worst happens and your wallet or purse is stolen.
With just a little common sense, however, you shouldn’t have to face any such unfortunate incidents. Remember, if you get into an emergency situation, call 911. If you need to contact the police regarding a non-emergency situation, call (309) 820-8888.
Healthcare: There are two major hospitals in the Bloomington-Normal that operate 24-hour emergency rooms, and there are numerous medical specialists on call (for emergency care, the area has excellent care in cardiology and is nationally regarded in neurology). Bloomington and its sister city, Normal, operate paramedic (ALS) ambulance services from eight locations through 9-1-1 dispatch. During extended business hours, there are walk-in (no appointment needed) doctors offices, and there are multiple pharmacies that are open 24 hours a day.