With crime through the roof, Baltimore doesn’t have the best safety track record in the US. But is it really as dangerous as people say it is? Locals and travelers share their opinions.
Note: Some quotes in this piece have been lightly edited for grammar.
How It Started
A solo-traveling 22-year-old man shared with an online forum that he’s planning an East Coast excursion and hoped to add a concert in Baltimore to his itinerary. The problem? Relatives have warned him it’s too sketchy to visit.
Apologies in Advance
As a Minneapolis resident, he prefaced his question to apologize if East Coasters are tired of the “Baltimore is dangerous” discourse. “I get it.” He says his father witnessed his friend get mugged and is extra cautious.
To help plan, he asked people in an online forum if Baltimore poses as much threat as people say it does. Locals and visitors alike chimed in with their opinions.
1: Get Lost Quick
A frequent Baltimore visitor says the problem with the city is how easy it is to go from somewhere nice to dangerous if you’re unfamiliar with it. “Wrong turn out of Little Italy, you’re in Perkins projects. Wrong turn out of Camden Yards, and you’re in the wrong part of Pigtown,” they said. “Much of the city is like this.”
2: Follow Directions
“It’s block by block,” says someone who worked frequently in Baltimore. It was described to them by a lifelong resident: “You don’t really have to make a ‘wrong turn’; just don’t make the right turn, and the street you’re on runs into sketchy-ville.”
3: Delivering Realness
One lifelong Baltimore resident delivered pizzas across the city in their teens, so they know their way around the city like the back of their hand. “You’re not necessarily going to get robbed just by going anywhere, but you do make yourself a target going where you don’t belong, and it’s very easy to end up somewhere you don’t belong in Baltimore.”
4: Stay Alert
A Maryland native says they’ve only been to Baltimore a handful of times, but they’ve been around enough to know the gist. “Bottom line, there are undesirables everywhere! Don’t let that stop you from enjoying a city that has many, many great things. Many people take that for granted and don’t trust their gut – probably why your dad and his work buddies got jumped.”
5: Girl Power
“I’ve been living here, in a couple of different central areas, for about 14 years now,” one woman says. “I think there is a little more random street crime in Baltimore currently, but it’s absolutely fine beyond how you treat any city.”
6: No Problems
Another solo-traveling woman and native New Yorker says Baltimore isn’t as bad as they say. “I have traveled to the city many times for business. It always gets a bad rap, but as a woman traveling alone, I never encountered any problems.”
7: Trust Your Gut
“[Baltimore is] no worse or better than Chicago or Detroit,” one local says. “Use your judgment, don’t look or act lost, and don’t wander too far off the beaten path. Baltimore has some wonderful and safe neighborhoods and some that are, well, not as nice.”
8: Words To Live By
Another Baltimore resident seconds the previous commenters’ advice. “It isn’t bad as long as you stay in safe areas at safe hours; just don’t risk it.” They add some advice: “Around midnight-2 am, don’t walk by yourself even around these places, and maybe don’t park around Little Italy or beyond just to save $10-$15.”
9: Media Lies
One Baltimore resident apologized for the awful perception of their city they’re getting. “It’s enhanced by media that doesn’t seem to care. Yes, Baltimore can be dangerous in some areas, but there wouldn’t be half a million people living here if you risked getting mugged walking down the street.”
10: Safety Tips
“It definitely depends on which part you are in,” one local said. They’ve witnessed family members’ cars stolen, risky road rage incidents, and more in the city. “I always walk with my head on a swivel and don’t carry my phone or purse out in the open. Maybe I am being extra, but it’s what makes me feel safer.”
11: Street Smarts
One rideshare driver says they see how the rundown look of Baltimore can make people uneasy, but it’s not as bad as you think. “Like any place you go, stay calm, vigilant, and use your senses. It’s always better to be with a group. If you don’t feel that it’s a safe place to be, get out of that area as quickly and safely as possible.”
12: Follow the Law
“From a long-time Baltimore resident, don’t do stupid stuff, and you’ll be fine.” So, what does not doing stupid stuff entail? Don’t try to get into anything illegal and start drama. “You’ll get the smackdown like in any other city.”
13: You’ll Be Fine
After living in Baltimore for six years, one resident says that if you keep your head on a swivel and mind your business, you won’t have any issues.
“Like all other cities, we have a lot of crime,” says a Baltimore transplant who’s lived in the city by choice since 1996. “Just use common sense. Our nickname is Charm City. While some bad people are here, just as in any city, people are very friendly. As I said, I live here by choice.”
According to U.S. News & World Report, nearly 500 violent crimes in Baltimore occur per 100,000 people. In contrast, New York City has a violent crime rate of 354.7, and Chicago has a violent crime rate of 252.8.
The Good News
Baltimore’s property crime rate is lower than the national average. Residents experience 1,174 property crimes per 100,000 people. Compare that to Los Angeles, where nearly 2,385 property crimes per capita occur.
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