While stress has been linked to poor health outcomes, little is known about the impact of objective measures of neighborhood crime on stress in patients with chronic disease. Using the Kaiser Permanente Diabetes Study of Northern California (DISTANCE), we examined associations between police-recorded crime (2005-2007) and stress (Perceived Stress Scale-4) in four large Northern California cities (Oakland, Sacramento, San Francisco, and San Jose). We performed stratified analysis by gender and race/ethnicity using generalized linear regression models. In our study sample (n = 3188, mean age 59, range 30-77), 10 % reported high stress. In adjusted analyses, higher neighborhood all crimes rate was associated with modest increase in high stress for African-American (OR = 1.10; 95 % CI 1.02-1.22) and Latina women (OR = 1.36; 95 % CI 1.10-1.67) and property crime showed similar associations with stress for these groups of women. Visible crime was associated with stress only for Latina women (OR = 1.43; 95 % CI 1.14-1.78). We found no association between crime and stress among men or other racial/ethnic groups of women. High crime levels may disproportionately impact health among certain subpopulations. Studies using additional measures of stress are necessary to differentiate the health impact of crime-related stress from other forms of stressors among individuals living with diabetes.