Imagine you are walking alone at night after dinner in a neighborhood that is known as much for its crime as its great restaurants. You hear footsteps behind you. Your stomach churns. The hairs on the back of your neck stand up. You pick up your pace and desperately wish you had made dinner plans somewhere else. That tactic — avoiding certain neighborhoods or places — is the approach more Americans say they take than any other to deal with their concerns about crime.
According to Gallup’s annual survey on crime*, one in six Americans report being the victim of a non-Internet-related crime in the last year. Theft and vandalism topped the list of crimes Americans say they experienced, and 3% say they were the victims of violent crimes. The survey delved into actions that people take because of their concerns about crime. Nearly half of Americans, 47%, say they simply avoid going to areas or neighborhoods they might otherwise want to go to as a means of staying safe. Fewer Americans say they keep a dog for protection, installed a burglar alarm, bought a gun, or carry Mace, a gun, or a knife for personal defense.