State Crime Report Shows Record Number of Homicides in 2020

(Bismarck, ND) -- Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem today released the annual Crime Report detailing crime statistics for 2020. The report is compiled from information reported by local law enforcement agencies across the state.

“As in every year, the crime statistics for 2020 show some encouraging news, along with one area of great concern. The long-term rate of some of the most serious offenses has ticked up slightly in some categories and down slightly in others, but the trend seems to be that the rate may be reaching a plateau. The one area that causes great concern is homicides. North Dakota experienced 32 homicides in 2020, which is by far the highest number since these reports were first compiled in 1978, and probably ever in the state's history. That number eclipsed last year's homicides of 26, which was a record then,” said Stenehjem. On the positive side, Stenehjem noted that drug arrests as well as driving under the influence arrests continued an encouraging long-term downward trend.

The following statistics highlight the report:

Crimes against Persons

There were 10,815 crimes against persons reported, a 2.6% increase from last year.

  • 32 people were murdered. Four victims were minors.
  • Firearms were involved in the deaths of 15 homicide victims.
  • The category of negligent manslaughter now includes deaths due to drunk drivers, distracted drivers, and reckless drivers, which offenses were not previously included. There were ten fatalities reported in 2020. Six victims were killed by impaired drivers, and another two were killed by distracted drivers using handheld devices.
  • Aggravated assaults increased 10% in the state after experiencing a 13% decline in 2019.  There were 1,371 reports of aggravated assault compared to 1,251 in 2019. The number of simple assaults reported also increased, from 6,062 in 2019 to 6,180 in 2020. 


Crimes against Property

There were 25,744 property crimes reported, up 7.9% from the 23,868 reported in 2019. A little more than one-third of the $38.2 million worth of stolen property was recovered by law enforcement.

  • There were 88 reports of arson in 2020, a 6% increase from the 83 reported in 2019.
  • Motor vehicle thefts increased by 14.5%, from 1,669 in 2019 to 1,911 in 2020.
  • Theft of motor vehicle parts increased by 127.4%, from 164 in 2019 to 373 in 2020.
  • Reports of Identity Theft increased by 173.6%, from 516 in 2019 to 1,412 in 2020. Much of the increase resulted from fraudulent claims for pandemic unemployment benefits, which the victims discovered only after their employer received notice that the victim had supposedly submitted a claim.


Crimes against Society

Crimes against society (such as drug violations, prostitution, animal cruelty) decreased by 3.3%, from 13,464 in 2019, to 13,020 in 2020. More than 77% of offenses were cleared by arrest or exceptional means.

  • Drug/narcotic violations decreased by 5.4% from 6,444 in 2019 to 6,095 in 2020. 


Group B offenses

Group B offenses include DUI, bad checks, disorderly conduct, trespassing, and other less serious offenses. In 2020, the total number of Group B arrests reported was 14,395, a decrease of 11.2% from the 16,202 arrests in 2019.

  • DUI arrests decreased by 13.5%, from 4,828 in 2019, to 4,175 in 2020.
  • DUI arrests have decreased by 41% since the legislature increased the penalties in 2013 and required repeat offenders to participate in the 24/7 Sobriety program.


State Crime Rate

The state’s crime rate of 6,478.3 per 100,000 population is up slightly from the 2019 crime rate of 6,281.8.


To see the full 2020 crime report, click here.