Understand your own definition of safe
Not everyone has the safe definition of safe. Some folks may look at Car theft as an acceptable risk, while others may feel that it is not. So first off, understand your own definition of what's safe, what's acceptable from a safety perspective, and then you're likely to have a more positive dialog when answering those questions. Don't assume that the person you're talking to has the same definition that you do, it's a good idea to ask about the numbers that are likely tracked. Auto Theft, Non-violent Crime, Violent Crime are typical categories that you can talk about with any resident expert. You can usually find them at your local police department.
Find Experts to Talk about Crime Statistics in your New Neighborhood
A great resource for safety is the local precinct of the police department. Although most precincts have detailed crime statistics, I have found that talking with a local officer is a great way to establish whether or not an area meets with my expectations of safety and/or violent crime. Almost always, crime tends to be very localized, so sometimes very small distances can make big differences in personal safety. Also remember, even for local precincts there are relative differences. Safe in a major urban environment is usually not the same as safe in a rural town, so a "unsafe" area of a quiet town could be much "safer" than a quiet area in an urban area.
Local Prices may be an Indicator of a Safe Real Estate Purchase
Lastly, look at prices! If the prices in one neighborhood seem to be quite different from another, there's usually a reason, and crime could be an indicator. People who stay in an area for extended periods know where they want to be, and will pay a premium to be there.
Here's a link to a third party website that covered a lot of towns in Massachusetts. As always, a ranking isn't the clearest way to establish what is and isn't safe, but it's a starting point. Published in 2017.
Do Good Things Today! Matt Heisler
*All information is posted in good faith and is assumed to be reliable, but may rely on third party information sources.