Crime in South Dakota

South Dakota's crime rate

There were 18,821 crimes reported in South Dakota in 2018, the most recent year crime data is available. Adjusted for population, South Dakota's crime rate is 2,133 crimes per 100,000 residents.

How does South Dakota compare?

Crime is less common in South Dakota than it is on average nationwide. By comparison, the national crime rate of 2,580 per 100,000 people is 21% higher. Of the 50 states, 33 have a higher crime rate than South Dakota.

Crime rates nationwide range from 1,422 per 100,000 in New Hampshire to 4,276 per 100,000 in New Mexico, the states with the lowest and highest crime rates, respectively.

Here are the crime rates for all 50 states.

What types of crimes are being committed?

The FBI's crime rate includes seven crime categories: three property crimes -- larceny, burglary, and motor vehicle theft, and four violent crimes -- aggravated assault, robbery, rape, and murder.

Property crime

The vast majority of crimes in America are property crimes, accounting for 85% of total crimes in 2018. This share was slightly lower in South Dakota, with property crimes accounting for 81% of all crimes reported in the state.

There were 15,251 property crimes reported in South Dakota in 2018, or 1,729 per 100,000 residents. This is lower than the national rate of 2,200 property crimes per 100,000 people and is the 16th lowest rate of the 50 states.


Larceny is by far the most common type of property crime. The 5,217,055 reported incidents nationwide in 2018 accounted for 72% of all property crime. South Dakota's rate of 1,265 reported larceny incidents per 100,000 residents is lower than the nationwide rate of 1,595 per 100,000 and is the 15th lowest among states.


An estimated 2,571 break-ins were reported in South Dakota in 2018, or 291 per 100,000 state residents -- the 16th lowest rate among states. For reference, there were an estimated 1,230,149 break-ins nationwide, or 376 break-ins per 100,000 people.

Motor vehicle theft

Across the U.S., there were 748,841 reported motor vehicle thefts in 2018, a rate of 229 per 100,000 people. South Dakota's rate of 173 motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 residents was lower than this national rate and the 20th lowest rate compared to all states.

Violent crime

Violent crimes make up a small share of crimes nationwide. In South Dakota, violent crimes account for 19% of total crimes, versus 15% nationwide.

While South Dakota has the 17th lowest total crime rate of all states, it has the 33rd lowest violent crime rate. The state’s violent crime rate of 405 per 100,000 people is higher than the national rate of 381 per 100,000. There were 3,570 violent crimes reported to South Dakota law enforcement agencies in 2018.

Aggravated assault

Aggravated assault is by far the most common type of violent crime. Nationwide, there were 807,410 aggravated assaults in 2018, accounting for 65% of violent crimes across the country. In South Dakota, 2,682 aggravated assaults were reported in 2018. South Dakota's rate of aggravated assault of 304 per 100,000 people is higher than the national rate of 247 per 100,000 and is the 14th highest of all states.


Robbery is the second most common type of violent crime in America. There were 262 robberies reported in South Dakota in 2018, or 30 robberies for every 100,000 residents. This is roughly a third of the national rate of 86 robberies per 100,000 people, and the ninth lowest robbery rate among states.


There were 614 reported rapes in 2018 in South Dakota. The state's rate of rape of 69.6 per 100,000 residents is much higher than the national rate of 42.6 per 100,000 people. South Dakota has the sixth highest rate of rape.


In 2018, there were 12 murders reported to law enforcement in South Dakota. The state’s murder rate of 1.4 per 100,000 residents is a fraction of the national rate of 5.0 per 100,000. South Dakota's murder rate is the lowest in the country.

Where are these crimes being committed?

Because crime is influenced by local circumstances, crime levels vary considerably within each state. Often a state’s dense urban areas will have higher crime rates than its rural areas. Even in a state with an exceptionally low crime rate, there is often at least one area where crime rates exceed the nation.

City with the highest crime rate in South Dakota

The city with the highest total crime rate in South Dakota is Mitchell, with a crime rate of 4,178 per 100,000 residents. This excludes cities with a population below 5,000 and cities with incomplete FBI crime reports.

While the city may have the highest total crime rate in the state, the rate is driven by property crime. Therefore, Mitchell is likely less dangerous than other cities in the state where more violent crimes are committed.

The most dangerous city in the state is Rapid City. This city has the highest violent crime rate in South Dakota, at 653 per 100,000 residents, more than 60% higher than the statewide rate.

Crime over time

National historical trend

The FBI provides access to crime data by state dating back to 1960. This nearly 60-year span, can be divided into three periods. Crime skyrocketed between 1960 and 1980, with the crime rate more than tripling in just 20 years from 1,887 crimes per 100,000 Americans to 5,950 crimes per 100,000 Americans.

Crime remained high in the 1980s and reached its second highest peak in 1991. Since that year, crime has fallen steadily nationwide, reaching its current rate of 2,580 per 100,000, a 56% decline in 27 years.

South Dakota's historical trend

In 1960, South Dakota's crime rate was 1,164 crimes per 100,000 residents. Crime peaked in the state in 1997 at 3,245 per 100,000, an increase of 179%.

Crime changes 2013-2018

Over the five years since 2013, the nationwide total crime rate has decreased by 16.8%, but this change varied dramatically between states. In New Hampshire, for example, the crime rate decreased by 43.6%, the largest decline of any state. The largest increase was in Alaska, where crime rose by 19.0% between 2013 and 2018.

With a decrease of 5.1%, South Dakota's crime rate has fallen much slower than the country as a whole. The crime rate declined in 47 states over this time period, and almost all of them declined faster than in South Dakota.

How South Dakota has compared to other states historically

Since 1960, South Dakota has always had a lower crime rate than the majority of states. Over these 59 years, the state has been among the 10 states with the lowest crime rates in 54 of them, but never among the states with the highest crime rates. Notably, South Dakota has been the state with the lowest crime rate in the country in seven years since 1960.

All cities in South Dakota

Here are all South Dakota cities ranked by total crime rate. For a city to be included, it must have a complete 2018 FBI crime report and population of 5,000 or more. Click any bar or city name to see more about crime in that city.

Click here to see a list of all city crime pages.

Click here to see a list of all state crime pages.