Places to Avoid in the USA: Crime and Bad Neighborhoods

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Where are the bad neighborhoods in the USA? Here are a few high crime locations in American cities, plus some tips to recognize if you've wandered into a dodgy area.

Inner city streets of Camden, New Jersey Photo © Getty Images/peeterv

Places to avoid in America

The city of Camden in New Jersey consistently makes the news of the most unsafe cities, and is right across the river from Philadelphia, and houses its own major aquarium and concert venue.

St. Louis, a major city in Missouri, does carry redeeming qualities such as its Gateway Arch, Forest Park, Anheuser-Busch Brewery and live jazz venues, but you don't want to go into the wrong urban areas, day or night.

Trouble around the corner

But there's another aspect to bad areas of American locales. Even if you go into a relatively safer city, taking a wrong turn can quickly land you in a place from which you'll want to flee.

AOL's Walletpop has for two years listed the worst neighborhoods, not cities, in America using a mix of FBI data and information from More useful is that the site ranks the chances of you becoming a victim in a certain neighborhood over the course of the year.

In 2017, the No. 1 most dangerous neighborhood in the country, E EH Crump Blvd/S 4th Street in Memphis, Tennessee carries a 1 in 9 chance you'll befall some type of violence.

You put yourself at highest risk when traveling to Indianapolis, which at two, has the highest number of neighborhoods making the list.

Other specific areas listed as risky include Independence Ave/Prospect Ave in Kansas City, MO., Altgeld Gardens in Chicago, IL and McCullon Street/W. Preston Street in Baltimore, MD.

Keep in mind that areas can change very quickly, and what looks pleasant and tourist-friendly may be a mirage masking dangerous territory.

No warning

Cities and neighborhoods not on any warning lists can also bring an extra threat of robbery or assault.

Much of the French Quarter in New Orleans is generally safe for travelers but it is best not to wander too far outside the downtown city limits.

One resident says to avoid going north of Rampart St. into Treme and crossing into the industrial canal into the Lower Ninth Ward.

A Miami resident warns that while the city itself is no more dangerous than other major urban areas, it has definite pockets of rough hoods, and some are unsettlingly close to tourist spots. Examples given include Opa Locka, Overtown and Liberty City.

A user posting in the Lonely Planet Thorntree section says in Chicago, Garfield Park, Woodlawn to the south and Pullman are areas in which to keep extra aware.

The general rule when traveling in any major U.S. city is to know where you are going before you set out for the day. Do not wing it and risk getting lost in some of the unsafe sections.

Avoid taking out a map, which can attract unwanted attention. Local residents may approach you in a friendly way and offer to show you to your destination, then expect a cash tip or something more.

Safety in the suburbs

In general, America's suburbs rank among the safer places, but poverty, petty crime and alcohol-related incidents can still plague these spots. Even if staying in a town with one traffic light, keep alert and lock up your belongings.

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