Serious crime was up 15% in St. Paul in 2020

“This was an incredibly hard year for all of us,” Police Chief Todd Axtell said, citing riots and the pandemic.
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Amid the COVID-19 pandemic and rioting, crime in St. Paul increased by 15.5% in 2020.

That's according to preliminary year-end crime data the St. Paul Police Department released this week, saying the increase in the most serious crimes (called Part 1 Offenses) was driven by a 78% increase in arsons and a 70.5% increase in commercial burglaries. 

“This was an incredibly hard year for all of us,” St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell said in a statement. “Between a global pandemic, historic levels of rioting, and very real economic pain, our country and city just experienced one of the most difficult periods of time in our city’s history.

"It’s astonishing to me that people would use these incidents as an opportunity to take advantage of others, victimize people and add to the misery," Axtell added. “But sadly, that’s what we’ve seen — right here in St. Paul and throughout the country."

Part 1 Offenses include crimes against property (robbery, burglary, theft, motor vehicle theft and arson) and crimes against people, like violent crimes (homicide, rape, aggravated assault), which increased by nearly 25% in 2020 after hitting a 25-year low in 2019

The city saw 34 homicides, which matched the city's previous record set in 1992, the Pioneer Press notes. There were 30 homicides in St. Paul in 2019, which marked a 25-year high. 

And most of those homicides have been solved. SPPD says they had a 91% clearance rate for homicides (31 of the 34 have been cleared). The national clearance rate for homicides in 2019 was 61.4%, according to Statista.

While many Part 1 Offenses saw increases in 2020, two types of serious crimes were less prevalent: rape and residential burglaries. 

Here's a breakdown of the crimes reported in St. Paul in 2020, listed from highest increase to lowest: 

  • Arson: 210, up 78% from 2019 when there were 118.
  • Commercial burglary: 776, up 70.5% from 2019, when there were 455.
  • Aggravated assault: 1,246, up 31.7% from 2019 when there were 946.
  • Robbery: 716, up 32.1% from 2019 when there were 542.
  • Motor vehicle theft: 2,774, up 14.7% from 2019 when there were 2,419.
  • Theft: 7,656, up 13.4% from 2019 when there were 6,751.
  • Homicides: 34, up 13.3% from 2019 when there were 30. 
  • Burglary: 2,279, up 11.8% from 2019 when there were 2,038.
  • Residential burglary: 1,503, down 5.1% from 2019 when there were 1,583.
  • Rape: 196, down 16.9% from 2019 when there were 236.

In addition, SPPD in 2020 responded to 244,965 calls for service, 2,326 reports of shots fired and 220 reports of people shot. They also recovered 658 guns.

Meanwhile, Axtell says he's looking toward the future and a return to normalcy in the community. 

"That means strategically leveraging our resources to find the people committing crimes and hold them accountable for their actions," Axtell said. "We owe that to the victims — especially those who’ve been affected by the most serious crimes.”

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