Home Global Crime Trends In a time of pandemic and riot, crime was up 15 percent in St. Paul last year – Twin Cities

In a time of pandemic and riot, crime was up 15 percent in St. Paul last year – Twin Cities

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In a time of pandemic and riot, crime was up 15 percent in St. Paul last year – Twin Cities

As lives were upended during the coronavirus pandemic, serious crime also was on the rise in St. Paul last year — it was up 15.5 percent compared to 2019, according to police.

Violent crime increased nearly 25 percent from the year before. Property crime rose by 14 percent.

“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,” Police Chief Todd Axtell said in a Wednesday statement. “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. But sadly, that’s what we’ve seen — right here in St. Paul and throughout the country.”

With 34 homicides, St. Paul matched the city’s previous record set in 1992. There were 30 homicides in St. Paul in 2019, almost double the year before. In the preceding 20 years, the average was 16 homicides a year.

Police said much of the overall increase in crime was driven by two categories — arson and commercial burglary. In St. Paul, primarily in the Midway area, there was a day and night of people setting businesses ablaze and stealing from stores in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody in May.


Gun violence has been a continuing concern. Twenty-eight of the 34 homicide victims in St. Paul last year were shot. There were 192 people wounded in non-fatal shootings, compared with 137 in 2019.

Reports of shots-fired reached 2,326 — more than double the year before.

Axtell said the department is dedicated to returning “a sense of normalcy to the community.” He said “that means strategically leveraging our resources to find the people committing crimes and hold them accountable for their actions.”

The police department says 31 of the 34 homicides were solved, which amounts to 91 percent. The national average was 61 percent in 2019, according to the FBI.

St. Paul officers also recovered 658 guns last year.


With the pandemic resulting in young people mostly doing distance learning from home and sports not happening as normal, the Rev. Darryl Spence said he thinks they’ve been left with too much time on their hands and less community support.

“The Bible says that an idle mind is the devil’s workshop,” said Spence, one of the founders of the God Squad, a community outreach organization in St. Paul. “… You’ve got 13-, 14-year- olds getting arrested for carjacking, you’ve got 17-year-olds getting killed. … I think we’re becoming desensitized to homicides.”

The only major crime categories that saw reductions in St. Paul last year were residential burglary and rape. The numbers, based on preliminary reports about 2020, were:

  • Robberies: 716, compared with 542 in 2019.
  • Rapes: 196 rapes, compared with 236 in 2019.
  • Aggravated assaults: 1,246, compared with 946 in 2019.
  • Commercial burglaries: 776, compared with 455 in 2019.
  • Residential burglaries: 1,503, compared with 1,583 in 2019.
  • Auto thefts: 7,656, compared with 6,751 in 2019.
  • Arsons: 210, compared to 118 in 2019.

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