Many states added more new residents by sheer numbers, but only three states grew at a faster rate than North Dakota, according to 2020 Census figures. The state added about 100,000 new residents, which equates to an almost 16 percent growth rate, the fourth-fastest in the country, North Dakota’s fastest since at least 1910, and more than the past five Census periods combined.

Most observers believe the oil boom North Dakota has experienced over the past several years is the reason it’s welcomed so many new residents, but all that economic and population growth seems to be having a downside — North Dakota is only one of two states where property crime has become more common over the past decade.

What should people in North Dakota or those considering relocating to the state know about property crime and their risks of experiencing it?

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At A Glance:

    • With #1 being the best, North Dakota is ranked #22 for property crime out of 50 states + Washington, D.C.
    • You have a 1.98% chance of being a property crime victim in North Dakota in the next 12 months.
    • North Dakota’s property crime rate is 6% lower than the average crime rate in the United States.
    • Devil’s Lake has the highest property crime rate in North Dakota (37.2 incidents per 1,000 people).

 

  • The body of water Devil’s Lake is named after is North Dakota’s largest natural body of water, and it draws tourists from all over the state for fishing and other water-based activities. The resulting influx of tourists, combined with a relatively low permanent population, create an adjusted property crime rate that leads the state.

 

North Dakota’s average property crime rate is about two points lower than the overall U.S. rate, though it’s slightly higher than the average Midwestern rate (19.5 incidents per 1,000 people). 

North Dakota’s Most Current Property Crime Rates (2019)

  • Rate of Property Crime
    • North Dakota average:: 19.8 crimes per 1,000 people
    • National average: 21.1 crimes per 1,000 people

Bucking the overwhelming national trend, property crime in North Dakota has risen since 2010. The only other state to see such incidents rise was Alaska, while the average rate of decline among states where property crimes fell was 27 percent. 

North Dakota’s Overall Property Crime Trends (2010 – 2019)

    • Average Rate of Property Crime:
      • North Dakota 10-year average: 21 crimes per 1,000 people
      • National 10-year average: 25.61 crimes per 1,000 people
    • -32% Has property crime increased or decreased during this time? 
      • There was an 11% increase in property crime in North Dakota from 2010 as compared to 2019.
    • 2015 Which year had the highest rate of property crime in North Dakota?:
      • The highest rate of property crime in North Dakota was 2015 (23.4 crimes per 1,000 people)
    • 2010 Which year had the lowest rate of property crime in North Dakota?:
      • The lowest rate of property crime in North Dakota was 2010 (17.8 crimes per 1,000 people)

What incidents fall under the umbrella of property crime? Burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft, and arson are the four major property crime categories reported by the FBI. In every case, if the incident involves violence or threats of violence, it no longer is a property crime and is classified as a violent crime.

North Dakota’s Property Crime Category Trends (2010 – 2019)

      • Which type of property crime occurred the most in North Dakota over the past decade?
        • Larceny occurred more than any other property crime at a rate of 15.2 crimes per 1,000 people.
        • Average property crime rate by category
          • Average burglary rate: 3.8 crimes per 1,000 people
          • Average larceny rate: 15.2 crimes per 1,000 people
          • Average vehicle crime rate: 2.1 crimes per 1,000 people
          • Average arson rate: 0.1 crimes per 1,000 people
        • Note: There were no FBI estimates for arson rates, so we used all available data that was reported by individual cities in North Dakota.
      • +82% Which types of property crime have increased during this time period?
        • Vehicle theft has surged in North Dakota, rising by 82% since 2010.
      • -3% Which types of property crime have decreased during this time period?
        • Larceny theft declined by 3%.

 

Violent crime is also on the rise in North Dakota, and most analysts believe the influx of oil workers is the biggest contributing factor in rising rates of both property crime and violent crime.

 

It should be noted, though, that the state’s property crime rate is still below the national rate, and many of the socioeconomic and geographic factors that tend to contribute to low property crime rates — low poverty, unemployment, and urbanization rates — are in evidence in North Dakota. On the other hand, while North Dakota is less urbanized than the U.S. as a whole, it’s experienced the third-biggest increase since 1970.

 

But given crime’s status as a hyperlocal issue, property crime rates vary dramatically from community to community. Even within the same county, cities and towns can have vastly different rates. Lincoln, which has the fifth-lowest property crime rate, just over two incidents per 1,000 people, is only about a 15-minute drive from Bismarck, which has the fifth-highest rate, 28 per 1,000.


Top 5: Best Property Crime Rates (based on 2019 data)*:

  • Surrey, North Dakota (Ward County)
  • Stanley, North Dakota (Mountrail County)
  • Thompson, North Dakota (Grand Forks County)
  • Hazen, North Dakota (Mercer County)
  • Lincoln, North Dakota (Burleigh County)

Bottom 5: Worst Property Crime Rates (based on 2019 data):

  • Devils Lake, North Dakota (Ramsey County)
  • Fargo, North Dakota (Cass County)
  • Mandan, North Dakota (Morton County)
  • Wahpeton, North Dakota (Richland County)
  • Bismarck, North Dakota (Burleigh County)

* Excludes cities with zero property crime reported