10 Scariest Cities in the United States – Know Before You Go

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In light of the rise in nationwide violence and theft, some online discourse about the safety of American cities has been happening lately.  Whether it is brazen shoplifting, carjackings, or physical confrontations on public transport, there seems to be no end to the crime wave washing across the country. Recent data show the official top ten worst cities to watch over your shoulder, and here they are. 

1. Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis, TN
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With 7,913 crimes per 100,000 residents, Elvis Presley’s home state is now famous for more than rock and roll music. One resident puts it down to juveniles whose conduct has been exacerbated by the “lingering effects of pandemic-era boredom.” Over this period, gangs of youths who didn’t have the distraction of school took to stealing cars through social media lessons. 

2. St. Louis, Missouri

St. Louis
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A lifetime St. Louis resident says in an online forum how a gang of youths is terrorizing his neighborhood, explaining how the police are too busy to do anything. Adding that it is a “death sentence” trying to confront them, he has lost hope in what used to be quite a safe place. 

3. Oakland, California

Oakland, California
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2020 was a sad year for Oakland Raiders fans, who lost their franchise again — this time to Las Vegas. However, Oakland’s crime remained, with 2021 records showing 1,453 violent crimes per 100,000 people.  Crime statistics in the city show a huge rise over five years, with homicides and stolen vehicles almost doubling. 

4. Albuquerque, New Mexico

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The Duke City is now “171% more dangerous than the national average,” according to a recent report. With a crime rate of 6,356 per 100,000 residents, the chance of becoming a victim of crime is now one in 75 people.  One resident says the proximity of poor living close to richer areas is why: “We have poverty and middle-class folks living very close to each other all over the city.” 

5. Baltimore, Maryland

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Baltimore experienced 177 murders in the first half of 2022, giving it one of the highest violent crime levels in the country. Drugs and gangs are central to most of Baltimore’s violence.  “My opinion is that it is safe unless you engage in high-risk activities,” says a 15-year resident. He concludes, “High-risk activities center around the illegal drug trade in Baltimore, for the most part.”

6. New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans
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According to recent findings, New Orleans has several neighborhoods to avoid: “Lower 9th Ward, Wake Lake Forest, and Pines Village.”  No other city captures the region’s unique historical tapestry and vibrant culture. However, if you live there, home security is a worthwhile investment — there were 18,098 property crimes in a population of 376, 971. 

7. Detroit, Michigan

Detroit, Michigan
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As most Americans know, Detroit has fallen on hard times in recent years due to its once-thriving automobile industry going under. The result is a struggling city scattered with urban and industrial ruins. With “14,430 violent crimes reported in 2022,” there is no wonder Detroit is suffering. 

8. Lubbock, Texas

Lubbock, Texas
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Lubbock has a relatively low homicide rate, but with a population of only 260,993 people, there were 2,169 assaults in 2022. This means more than one percent of people reported being attacked last year.  That number may seem low, but considering the national average for assault is only 284 per 100,000 people, it is ten times higher than usual. 

9. Stockton, California

Stockton, California
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The Bay Area makes another appearance for a lesser-known city, Stockton, where common assault gets the majority of its violent crime stats.  “Downtown Stockton,” warns one member of an online forum, “lots of homeless and drug dealers, and I would not recommend leaving the house at night for a casual stroll.” 

10. Chicago, Illinois

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The Windy City is by far the biggest metropolitan area on this list. Therefore, the average of 3,926 violent crimes per 100,000 residents is no surprise, considering Chicago’s size.  However, with 26,620 violent incidents last year, including 774 homicides, the city is not doing so well. The source of this violence is gang warfare connected to drugs and turf wars across the city’s South and West Side. 

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Demi Michele is a seasoned traveler, turned freelance writer. Having explored most states and ventured internationally, her love for outdoor cafes, new cuisines, and cultural immersion shines through her wide range of articles. Based in Texas with her family and two Scottish Terriers, Demi turns her adventures into captivating travel narratives to share with readers.