Overall, South Dakotans are less worried about safety than much of the country. With statewide crime rates decreasing year over year, it’s easy to see why The Mount Rushmore State may be more relaxed when it comes to security—especially in the state’s safest cities.
The violent crime rate in South Dakota is slightly higher than the national rate of 3.7 incidents per 1,000, although it decreased from 4.3 last year to 4.0. Surprisingly, the amount of people reporting a personal experience with violent crime increased year over year from 6% to 13%.
60% of people in South Dakota fear a break-in, but only 13% use a home security system.
Property crime happens less frequently in South Dakota, with 17.3 incidents happening per 1,000 people, compared to 22.0 across the US. That rate decreased from 19.0 last year, even though personal reports of property crime experience increased from 16% to 23%.
Violent Crime in South Dakota: Fear vs. Reality
Physical assault by a stranger is the most concerning violent crime in South Dakota, but people feel that it’s more likely they’d fall victim to a mass shooting.
33% reported highest concern about being physically assaulted by a stranger. That’s seven percentage points below the national average of 40%.
Aggravated assault is the most common violent crime in South Dakota, accounting for 67% of the incidents reported in the safest cities and 75% statewide.
20% named mass shootings as the violent crime they think is most likely to happen, versus 23% nationwide.
There hasn’t been a mass shooting in South Dakota since 2015.
Between 2014 and 2019, there were two mass shootings in South Dakota, resulting in 10 deaths and one injured. Across the US there were 2,087 mass shooting incidents between 2014 and 2019.
5% of South Dakota survey participants said they, or someone close to them, has been personally affected by a mass shooting at some point in their life. Nationwide, 7% said the same.
Property Crime in South Dakota: Fear vs. Reality
Having property stolen is the primary property crime concern in South Dakota; however, theft of digital property in particular is the crime they feel is most likely to occur.
60% said that property being stolen is the most concerning property crime, compared to the national average of 55%.
Burglary accounted for 13% of all property crime reported by the safest cities and 17% of all property crime in South Dakota.
42% indicated that the property crime that’s most likely to happen is theft of digital property (like photos or files). Across the country, 36% also named it the most likely property crime.
Last year digital security was the biggest safety concern in the Mount Rushmore State.
Larceny-theft is the most common property crime in South Dakota, totalling 73% of the state’s property crimes and 80% of the property crimes reported by the safest cities.
Despite high concern about having property stolen, only 13% of South Dakota respondents have a home security system (the national average is 24%).
Guard animals, like a dog, are the security method that South Dakotans use most for protection, with 33% using one. That’s the same as the national average.
37% use no security measures to protect their property, compared to 29% across the country.
A Closer Look at South Dakota’s Safest Cities of 2020
For the purposes of this report, the terms “safest” and “dangerous” refer explicitly to crime rates as calculated from FBI crime data—no other characterization of any community is implied or intended.
60% of the cities are brand new to the list this year.
Despite year-over-year increases in both property crime and violent crime rates, Brandon still kept its title as the safest city in South Dakota.
No city improved in rank this year. Brandon held on to the top spot for the third year in a row, and the three other repeat cities all dropped a bit: Madison, Tea, and Brookings.
All cities did better than state (4.0) and national (3.7) violent crime rates, with no city reporting more than 3.2 violent crimes per 1,000.
Summerset and North Sioux City tied for the lowest crime rate (0.4), but higher property crime rates impacted their overall rankings.
9 cities (90%) beat the state property crime rate (17.3) and every one did better than the national property crime rate (22.0).
Lead had the lowest property crime rate at 3.7, but a violent crime rate of 2.0 put it at number two on the list.
90% of the cities reported fewer than 100 total property crimes.
Mass Shooting Definition: SafeWise uses the GVA definition of a mass shooting: “If four or more people are shot or killed in a single incident, not involving the shooter, that incident is categorized as a mass shooting based purely on that numerical threshold.”
Written by Rebecca Edwards
Rebecca is the lead safety reporter and in-house expert for SafeWise.com. She has been a journalist and blogger for over 25 years, with a focus on home and community safety for the past six. Rebecca spends dozens of hours every month testing and evaluating security products and strategies. Her safety expertise is sought after by publications, broadcast journalists, non-profit organizations, podcasts, and more. You can find her work and contributions in places like TechCrunch, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, HGTV, MSN, and an ever-growing library of radio and TV clips. Learn more