Robberies, burglaries drove uptick in Sioux Falls crime rate in 2022

Violent crime rate was flat last year and lower than the 2020 spike. The police chief says he’s “pleased,” but not happy with the overall state of public safety in the city.

Sioux Falls Police Chief Jon Thum presents the city's 2022 crime statistics at the Sioux Falls Law Enforcement Center on Tuesday, March 7, 2023.
Hunter Dunteman / Sioux Falls Live

SIOUX FALLS — A small uptick in Sioux Falls’ crime rate in 2022 was primarily driven by a stark increase in robberies and burglaries, a trend the city’s police department said they’ll be keeping a close eye on in 2023.

While detailing the department’s crime statistics for the year, Sioux Falls Police Chief Jon Thum said the number of person-on-person robberies is a point of concern for law enforcement.

Police in Sioux Falls received 169 reports of robberies last year — a 50% increase from 2021 and the highest number of reports since at least 2014.

The increase comes as a result of more person-to-person robberies, and not necessarily robberies of businesses.

“This number is alarming,” Thum said. “What we’re seeing more and more is people taking stuff from each other. A lot of time when people hear the word ‘robbery,’ they think of a casino robbery or a gas station robbery — but we’re seeing more person-to-person issues.”


Beyond the robberies, Thum said the department has noticed a concerning trend involving juveniles burglarizing gas stations and smoke shops in search of vape products.

“One of the main drivers of burglaries we saw this year was break-ins overnight at gas stations and vape stores or tobacco stores. They seem to be a new nuance this year where they became targets, so much so we saw repeat hits on some of these locations, kind of driving the number of burglaries up,” Thum said. “It seems to be a crime that young people and juveniles are involved in to get some of the vape products from either smoke shops or gas stations.”

Across both residential and commercial burglaries, police fielded 858 reports in 2022, up 4.8% from 2021 and up 28.6% from 2017.

Property crimes as a whole — which includes robberies, burglaries, stolen vehicles, larcenies and vandalisms — rose just over 3% from 2021, accounting in part for a 23.5% increase since 2017.

Rape reports fall as violent crime rises

The Sioux Falls Police Department received 25% fewer reports of rape in 2022, a year that was otherwise marked by an increase in violent crime.

While reports of rape fell from 119 to 90 year-over-year, aggravated assaults jumped by 8% while domestic aggravated assaults increased 6%. Seven homicides were recorded in 2022 — two more than the year prior — with one remaining unsolved as of Tuesday morning, which bothers Thum.

“We take great pride in solving every case, especially when it comes to homicides,” he said. We take great pride in that, and I don’t want to be the community that accepts unsolved homicides, and we’re gonna keep that up as long as we can, that’s who we are.”

Crimes committed against police officers, regardless of severity, are also on the rise, Thum said.


“The amount of situations where officers have their patrol cars rammed or assaulted have definitely gone up over the past several years, especially since 2020,” Thum said.

Since Thum became chief in June 2021, the Sioux Falls Police Department has been involved in nine officer-involved shootings — more than double the amount that occurred under the two previous chiefs, combined.

“Our officers are at an increased risk based on some of these actions, and we know they’re experiencing similar things in Rapid City as well,” Thum said. “People are just more willing to use violence against officers.”

All of the officer-involved shootings have been deemed justified by the state’s Office of the Attorney General, but Thum called the increase in violence toward police “alarming.”

Mayor Paul TenHaken 030723.jpg
Mayor Paul TenHaken talks about the crime in Sioux Falls in 2022 during a press conference in the Law Enforcement Center on Tuesday, March 7, 2023.
Patrick Lalley / Sioux Falls Live

Are city leaders concerned about the uptick?

The crime rate for 2022 saw an average of 84.9 crimes committed for every 1,000 residents, a less-than 1% increase from 2021. Though that number is down from a surge of crime in 2020, it's 12% higher than the 75.6 per capita crime rate the city saw in 2014.

When city leaders were asked Tuesday by members of the media if they are happy with where the city’s crime rate sits compared to other comparably-sized Midwestern cities, Thum and Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken agreed that “pleased” is a better term.

“I’m pleased with where we’re at — but again we’re always recognizing there’s a lot of work to do. This is not a rest on your laurels situation, this is a double down situation,” Thum said. “People say Sioux Falls is changing, and yeah it's a changing community, it’s not the Sioux Falls you remember from 1960.”


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“Per capita, we’re good, but we’re adding more people. We’re 50,000 more people than we were 10 years ago. For some of our legacy residents who’ve been here for a long time, there is more crime in our city because our city has grown,” TenHaken said. “But, is it manageable and is it realistic with the city that's growing at the rate it is? Yeah, in some ways it’s actually better than you can hope for at the rate its growing.”

TenHaken added the statistic he watches the closest is the violent crime rate per 1,000 residents. Though trending upward over the past decade, it’s actually decreased since 2020 to 6.21 per capita.

“To me, that’s a very important number to watch. As soon as that gets to 7, 8 or 9 (percent), then we do have a crime growth problem,” he said. “I think what we historically don’t do a real good job about in Sioux Falls is telling the positive stories around how safe the community remains as far as the growth.”

Ultimately, Thum and TenHaken said that through cooperation between law enforcement agencies and the courts is the most important part of continuing to keep crime rates manageable in Sioux Falls.

“Crime in a community is not the responsibility solely of the police. Crime is the responsibility of the Unified Judicial System, the Department of Corrections, the sheriff’s office, the police department and of the policies and procedures a city puts in place,” TenHaken said. “There’s a lot of different elements that go into crime.”

A South Dakota native, Hunter joined Forum Communications Company as a reporter for the Mitchell (S.D.) Republic in June 2021 and now works as a digital reporter for Forum News Service, focusing on local news in Sioux Falls. He also writes regional news spanning across the Dakotas, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
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