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Americans afraid to walk alone at night hits three-decade high, nearly 30 percent fear being murdered: Poll

Spiking crime rates have left four in ten Americans weary of nighttime walks in their neighborhood, according to recent polling. 

Forty percent of Americans are afraid to walk alone at night within a mile of their home, which is the highest number in three decades according to recent Gallup polling. The statistic hit a 29% low in October 2020, but has edged up to the current number as the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing policies subsided. 

Over 30% of respondents said fear of crime has prevented them from taking walks, jogging or running alone in their area, while 17% said it keeps them from going to local parks, according to Gallup. In addition, 28% of Americans have avoided concerts, other crowded events and talking to strangers because of crime. 

“Whether because of sharp increases in violent crime during the pandemic or media coverage of other crimes, Americans’ sense of security from crime has been rattled in recent years,” Gallup said in its release of the results. “That carries over into their attitudes today, reflected in a rise in Americans’ fear of walking alone at night in their own area to a three-decade high, and their fear of being the victim of several violent crimes being the highest in trends since 2000.”

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The Gallup poll, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points, surveyed 1,009 adults between Oct. 2 and Oct. 23 who rated America’s crime problem as serious, believing it has worsened. 

Fear of crime is also higher among adults living in households earning less than $40,000 per year at 49%, compared to 39% of those earning $40,000 to $99,999 and 32% earning $100,000 or more, according to the poll. In addition, 50% of residents in cities, 39% of residents living in suburbs and 30% of towns or rural areas report being scared of crime. 

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Nearly 30% of Americans also worry frequently or occasionally that they will be murdered, which is up from 17% in 2020. 

In addition, 72% percent of U.S. adults say they frequently or occasionally worry about being the victim of identity theft, which is the most common crime concern, which is followed by having their car stolen or broken into, home burglarized when they aren’t there and getting mugged at 50%, 44%, and 37%, respectively. Other crime concerns include being attacked while driving your car, being a victim of a hate crime or being sexually assaulted. 

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Gallup also looked at how fear of crime affects individuals’ behaviors and found that 34% of Americans have avoided driving into certain areas of the town or city where they live, 31% say they avoid visiting central areas of nearby cities and 17% avoid going to shopping malls.

Woman walking

The heightened fear of crime might cause Americans to change their behaviors in a way that would affect the economy and social fabric of the nation, or influence their candidate or party preferences in the 2024 elections, Gallup said. 

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In March, “crime ranked third among 15 issues in the amount Americans say they worry about each,” Gallup said in its release. Crime “was also the third-highest-scoring issue in importance to registered voters in the 2022 elections. As such, crime seems to be a sleeper issue, but one that Americans care about when it’s raised.”

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