Crime rates dropped across the state and in south-central Minnesota last year, according to a new state report.
But the number of what the state classifies as serious crimes was up a bit in Mankato and some other area jurisdictions.
Law enforcement agencies across the state are required to annually submit crime data to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. The state compiles all the data into an annual report. The 2018 report was released to the public this week.
The largest cities in The Free Press coverage area all saw a dip in overall crime reports and crime rates in 2018 compared to 2017.
The Mankato Department of Public Safety reported receiving a little over 3,800 crime reports last year, down from over 4,300 the prior year.
But the number of reports of serious crimes rose from around 1,400 to nearly 1,600.
Nearly 1,200 of those were classified as larceny, which encompasses most types of theft. Larceny reports were up 10%.
There were 145 crimes of violence in Mankato, up from 108. The number of reported rapes more than doubled — from 24 to 52.
Rape also was an outlier in the statewide 7% dip in violent crimes. The nearly 2,700 rapes reported across the state last year was the highest number in over 20 years.
North Mankato also had an uptick in rape reports — from two to eight.
North Mankato Police Chief Ross Gullickson said the upturn doesn’t necessarily mean that more rapes are being committed. It could be the result of more victims coming forward as a societal shift has reduced the stigma.
Crime was down overall in North Mankato, with 164 serious crimes and 641 minor crimes, compared to 180 and 800 respectively in 2017.
Gullickson noted the state figures are lower than ones he reported to his City Council last month. When multiple crimes are committed during the same incident, Gullickson explained the state report counts only the most serious of the crimes.
When each crime in a multi-crime incident is counted, Gullickson said his city’s numbers rise to 175 serious crimes and 984 minor crimes last year.
Although the state report “under-reports” crimes, North Mankato’s top cop said it still provides “a good snapshot of crime throughout the state and the communities.”
Gullickson uses the report to monitor how his city compares to others. He also looks for crime trends across the state, but said nothing stood out to him in the new report.
There were 104 murders reported last year, including a mother and daughter fatally shot in St. James and a woman shot by her husband near Beauford.
Robbery reports dipped by 19% across the state. The Mankato Department of Public Safety reported the most robberies locally: 17.
There were 127 reports of hate crimes, including two in St. Peter that involved the victims’ sexual orientation, one in Waseca involving religion, and one in Janesville involving race.
The state report calculates crime rates per 100,000 residents, using a multiplier for cities and counties with smaller populations.
Mankato has the highest area crime rate of just over 9,000 crimes reported per 100,000 residents. That’s down from over 10,400 the prior year.
The rate is smaller than some of out-state Minnesota’s largest cities, including St. Cloud and Duluth, but significantly higher than Rochester.
The North Mankato Police Department and Blue Earth County Sheriff’s Department also saw crime rates dip by around 1,400, both to around 5,900 crimes per 100,000 people.
New Ulm saw the greatest rate dip of nearly 2,300 to a little under 4,800. St. Peter had the lowest crime rate of the largest area cities: less than 3,700.
When looking at area counties, Sibley County is the safest with fewer than 2,300 crimes per 100,000. Le Sueur County is a close runner-up at fewer than 2,400.
At over 7,400 per 100,000, Blue Earth County has the highest crime rate of area counties. Mille Lacs County has the highest crime rate in the state at over 19,000.