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Bits and Pieces from 2014 South Dakota Crime Report

If you’re feeling really political, you can read the freshly released Crime in South Dakota 2014 report and blame Governor Dennis Daugaard for a 66.7% jump in murder. But there were only 20 murders all year, so that’s an awfully small sample from which to draw any conclusion.

More serious offenses (“Group A” offenses) increased 5.4% in 2014, while less serious offenses (“Group B”) declined 2.2%. Perhaps more Group A and less Group B indicates a faintly admirable manly streak among our bandits who have decided that if they going to go outlaw, they’re going to go big.

That said, only 34% of thefts involved forced entry. Two thirds of the time, thieves are just grabbing stuff they don’t have to work very hard for. Lazy bums!

Here are the ten most popular Group A crimes for 2014:

Crime Number
Simple Assault 6,102
Drug/Narcotic Violations 6,040
All Other Larceny 5,727
Destruction/Damage/Vandalism of Property 4,832
Drug Equipment Violations 4,532
Shoplifting 2,860
Burglary/Breaking and Entering 2,560
Theft from Motor Vehicle 1,788
Aggravated Assault 1,503
Theft from Building 1,349

I’ve got to include #11, the only other crime reaching quadruple digits: Impersonation! Would that be like Chad Haber impersonating a Libertarian?

The report tallies where crimes happen. As you’d expect, lots of offenses take place in stores (shoplifting), parking lots (vandalism, theft, drugs), and roads (more drug busts). But the most crime-riddled locale is home sweet home. 16,448 Group A offenses, 37.4% of the Group A total (which AG Jackley’s people incorrectly label a majority rather than a plurality) took place in somebody’s house. Only 45 crimes happened at South Dakota’s beaches, only 26 at abandoned or condemned structures (who needs to clear blight?), and only 14 at homeless shelters and missions.

Criminals used firearms in 532 Group A offenses. They used “personal weapons”—hands, feet… maybe heads for head-butts?—in 4,841 Group A offenses. Firearms were used in 13 murders; personal weapons, 6. Poison was used in only one offense, an aggravated assault (alas, no creative plots by the KGB).

Bicycle bandits heisted $148K worth of two-wheelers. Car thieves swiped $4.76M worth of autos. The cops managed to recover 58% of stolen cars but only 27% of stolen bicycles. Hmmm… work in volume, banditos, and you could keep more of your profits from swiping bicycles!

Out of $18.8 million in total stolen property, law enforcement recovered just 23%. The best recovery rate came in bus theft: someone stole a $5,000 bus, and the cops got that bus back. (Think about it: the bigger your loot, the harder it is to hide.)

Of course, when it comes to all these crime, men are stupid. Males committed 70.0% of all Group A offenses. Male offenders outnumbered females in every category. The closest the ladies came to parity was in prostitution, where the state counted 25 offenses by women and 27 offenses by men.

I should be careful of my language in that last paragraph. American Indians make up 8.9% of South Dakota’s population. American Indians were busted for 27.2% of South Dakota’s crimes. African Americans make up 1.9% of South Dakota’s population. African Americans committed 6.9% of crimes here. We white folks committed 54% of 2014’s crimes in South Dakota.


  1. Jon Holmdal 2015-05-01 12:45

    Where are the stats for white collar crime or does that not take place in South Dakota?

  2. David Newquist 2015-05-01 14:31

    This report misdirects attention away from the real crime problem in South Dakota, which is the criminal justice system. One might gain some insight into the 6,004 convictions for drug crimes and the 4,532 for drug equipment (pipes, cigarette papers, roach clips, bongs) and note that for those which might involve cannabis, they would not be crimes in states such as Colorado. Those numbers do indicate where law enforcement, prosecutors, and courts spend an inordinate amount of time. As a matter of full disclosure, I have been involved with wrongful conviction and innocence projects in the past and witnessed some court proceedings a year and a half ago which again demonstrates a need for a thorough investigation of the law enforcement and judicial systems. It is incomprehensible, after the Taliaferro-Schwab case dismissal that no investigations have taken place into what are serious violations with malicious prosecution, contrived and false evidence, and the absence of any checks against false prosecutions.

    The first concern I have was when, during a preliminary hearing, a defense attorney failed to challenge evidence that witnesses refuted. The evidence was a video recording of a witness regarding what she had observed. This video was made within minutes after an incident and the witness was clearly in a state of distraction when questioned by the officers. Statements made the following morning contradicted what the witness said on the video and made clear that during the video, she was struggling to recall clearly what she had witnessed and was searching for words to get the interview over with so that she could offer assistance to those involved in the incident. The puzzle is in why after asking that her testimony be corrected both to the prosecutor and the defense attorney, the defense attorney made no effort to challenged the evidence at the hearing which is for just that purpose. Rather, he recommended a plea bargain, which was attractive because of the money involved. How many people plead guilty because that is what they can afford? The circumstances of the case have all the earmarks of how wrongful convictions are made. But the real danger is what seemed to be a very cozy arrangement between the defense attorney and the prosecutor. Since that instance, I have come across a number of cases that did not seem to rise to merit criminal actions.

    I one case, I received a telephone call asking if I wished to speak to an incarcerated individual. If I did, the call gave me an option of paying $25 from my credit card to establish an account for the incarcerated person so that he could use a telephone to contact his family, attorney, etc. Private businesses are involved in our criminal justice system and have set up schemes for making money off the accused.

    Of those 10,000-some drug-related arrests, how many of them were used to feed money into some profit-making scheme? Those who claim they are serving and protecting seem to be serving corporate schemes and protecting those who would commit predations against the accused.

  3. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-05-01 15:40

    Jon, white-collar folks commit rape, drug, and fraud offenses, but the report doesn’t break down offenders by economic class. But consider the numbers on these white-collar-ish crimes (still committable by folks of any income level):

    • Embezzlement: 8
    • Wire fraud: 12
    • Counterfeiting/Forgery: 530 (but rich guys don’t need to counterfeit money; they just order more tax breaks from their Congresspeople)

    As for non-white-collar crime, the report lists one instance of welfare fraud in South Dakota in 2014. One, Kristi, Mike, John.

    Perhaps of interest to Deadwood residents and visitors, the report lists only two gambling-related offenses.

    What other white-collar crimes do we bust people for in South Dakota?

  4. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-05-01 15:47

    Without trying to track down the private profiteers (lawyers? drug counseling services? bail bondsmen?) David speaks of, I wonder about the economics purely on the law enforcement ledger. Do the fines we collect from drug offenders come close to covering the costs of law enforcement, prosecution, and incarceration associated with arrests for marijuana possession and use?

  5. Bob Newland 2015-05-01 16:07

    It doesn’t matter if the fines for drug “crimes” pay for the cop/court time involved. People should not be arrested for trying to feel better or for trying to help others feel better.

    If we quit criminalizing trying to feel better, we might also cut down some of the theft, as well.

  6. Lynn 2015-05-01 16:30


    “If we quit criminalizing trying to feel better, we might also cut down some of the theft, as well.”

    Are you advocating legalization of all drugs then?

  7. Bob Newland 2015-05-01 16:39

    Of course. Don’t you?

  8. Lynn 2015-05-01 16:57

    That would be an interesting social experiment. Let the chips fall where they fall.

    What happens when their lives are consumed with numbing themselves down 24/7 and they can no longer work but still need their fix?

  9. Bob Newland 2015-05-01 17:02

    None of the laws has prevented that, Lynn. However the laws have brought us events like what happened in Baltimore.

  10. Bob Newland 2015-05-01 17:08

    Actually, the “social experiment” was in criminalizing attempting to feel better, then encouraging cops to lie, encouraging the state to steal, and employing private contractors to house the results. We are reaping the whirlwind.

  11. Lynn 2015-05-01 17:16


    Don’t you feel that what happened in Baltimore goes far deeper? I don’t believe drug laws have much or anything to do with it.

    Baltimore and other metro areas like the once great now rust belt cities have been economically gutted. Not much in the way of opportunities, cutbacks in services, education since they no longer have the tax base and segregated. There are numerous factors locally and nationally that contributed to it and is playing out elsewhere in the US.

  12. Lynn 2015-05-01 17:20


    Going back to this question if all drugs are fully legalized and you said it would cut down on theft. What happens when their lives are consumed with numbing themselves down 24/7 and they can no longer work but still need their fix?

  13. Bob Newland 2015-05-01 17:21

    Drug laws have everything to do with it. That other stuff is incidental. Even if, though, the drug laws and subsequent enforcement thereof were a minor part (which it is not), there is still no justification to imprison people for trying to feel better.

  14. Bob Newland 2015-05-01 17:22

    Lyne says: “Going back to this question if all drugs are fully legalized and you said it would cut down on theft. What happens when their lives are consumed with numbing themselves down 24/7 and they can no longer work but still need their fix?”

    The laws have prevented none of that.

  15. Lynn 2015-05-01 17:32

    Ok! All drugs are legal. So this person has no job, no money to pay for a drug they are highly addicted to since that is the nature of this particular drug. How are they going to get more? Taxpayers pay for a refill? Steal? Friends and family?

  16. Bob Newland 2015-05-01 17:34

    The market has a way of dealing with these situations. It already deals with it, except that the prices for the commodity are artificially high. Therefore, folks in your hypothet will have to steal less.

  17. Lynn 2015-05-01 17:39

    “Therefore, folks in your hypothet will have to steal less” That’s comforting! LOL Yeah except there will be most likely be more people in that situation which will add to the negatives others who do not use will have to deal with.

  18. Lynn 2015-05-01 17:48


    Part of me has the attitude that what others do in their lives in regards to drugs is their business as long as it does not affect me. As much as I wish that were the case it just has not turned out to be reality for society or myself. Those of us who do not use drugs are affected either directly or indirectly in a negative way and that is where those laws have come from.

    Is there abuse and corruption within our legal system and prison industrial complex? Yeah I definitely believe so along with all the other crap that happens within our own state.

  19. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-05-01 17:49

    Allowing people to numb themselves into uselessness… just curious: does TV ever have that effect? or video games? or the Internet? (the latter is not a subtle jab at commenters engaged in vigorous conversation—no one sounds numb here! Please continue!)

  20. Bob Newland 2015-05-01 17:51

    There is not one benefit from drug laws that you can quantify. There are however, huge negative consequences for all of us.

    The laws have not prevented one single person from using an illegal drug.

  21. Bob Newland 2015-05-01 17:53

    TV may well have greater adverse effects on the great expanse of populace than any psychotropic substance.

  22. larry kurtz 2015-05-01 17:55

    commercial teevee is indeed the most dangerous gateway drug.

  23. Lynn 2015-05-01 17:56


    I know that if you want something that is illegal it’s not that hard to get it.


    There are all sorts of ways to cope, escape that can all the sudden creep more time into our daily lives and eventually consume them. TV, movies, video games, internet and the list goes on.

  24. Bob Newland 2015-05-01 17:58

    My argument, Lynn, is that even if all the bad shit they say about drugs were true (and they’re not) it still makes no sense to reward cops to lie about arrests, or to put people in jail for attempting to feel better.

  25. Lynn 2015-05-01 18:01

    Yeah but watching shows like the Kardashians should be considered punishment

  26. larry kurtz 2015-05-01 18:06

    think: captain kangaroo and captain 11.

  27. larry kurtz 2015-05-01 18:08

    captain kirk,
    captain planet,
    captured our boy/man brains:

  28. Bob Newland 2015-05-01 18:09

    OK. First offense, one ounce or less; two episodes of the Ks.

    Second offense, more than an ounce; four hours of Fox nighttime.

    Third strike: A week of Rush Limbaugh.

  29. larry kurtz 2015-05-01 18:10


  30. Lynn 2015-05-01 18:19

    Bob what you and David Newquist mentioned in regards to abusing the law and not being able to fully defend oneself is disturbing!

    There seems to be a number of money driven policy made at the expense of the integrity of our Justice system. Look at what has happened with private prisons with facilities that not only housed adults but juveniles.

    Reading the letters to the editor from inmates complaining about the contracted food service and commissary in our prisons. I can imagine the unhealthy and unpalatable slop they get served with little recourse since they are there to be “punished” while that contractor is focused on profit. Those inmates should have an opportunity to grow their own food which is healing spiritually and physically.

  31. Bob Newland 2015-05-01 21:08

    Building a huge criminal underclass has an obvious downside. Cycling 2+Million people through prison every 10-15 years produces a large number of people in society who have been deprived of freedom, skills, family life and often citizenship, and who largely are resentful of the rest of us. There’s not much to cheer about in that.

    And we listen to that smug little prick Jackley on public radio.

  32. Cranky Old Dude 2015-05-02 14:05

    Jeez, Bob! Rush at least has a sense of humor…four hours of Fox is Cruel & Unusual Punishment. Of course four hours of ANY TV might fall into that category.

    The answer to the drug law quandary is blowing in the wind. With some states willing to give legalization a try, we’ll have an opportunity to see what works. All I can say for certain is that the way we’re doing it now doesn’t.

  33. Deb Geelsdottir 2015-05-02 14:34

    Bob’s suggested punishments are both cruel and unusual. Give me prison or give me death!

  34. larry kurtz 2015-05-02 16:10

    Jackley is a smug little prick, that much is true.

  35. Bob Newland 2015-05-02 20:07

    Finally, Larry K thinks I got sumpm right.

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