Past research on fear of crime has focused on variables from the victimization/vulnerability, neighborhood disadvantage, and community control models. Recent theoretical work on fear of crime also suggests the importance of 'diffuse anxieties' in elevating personal fear of crime and creating a 'culture of fear' in American society. Diffuse anxieties include concern about the economy, big government, welfare, union-led inflation and affirmative action. To date, few studies have empirically tested the relationship between diffuse anxiety and fear of crime. This exploratory study, conducted during the recent economic recession in the USA, tests the role of economic insecurity in predicting crime fear, while controlling for measures of crime vulnerability, neighborhood disorder and community control. Results indicate that economic insecurity is an important predictor of fear of crime and the implications of this finding are discussed. Abstract published by arrangement with Taylor and Francis.