Security measures to combat crime in rural communities

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Serious crimes are a rarity in many rural communities around the region, but over the past few weeks, law enforcement has dealt with several burglaries and thefts in rural farming communities.

This Wednesday, two farm houses in Brookings County were robbed by a group of five armed strangers. Local county sheriff’s say it’s not the only rural area targeted in recent weeks.

“In the last few weeks, we've seen that quite a bit,” Captain Paul Niedringhaus with the Minnehaha County Sheriff's Department said. “There’s a higher volume of stolen vehicles, and it’s just not in Sioux Falls, its not just in Minnehaha County, the offenders we are working on are going into neighboring counties and even neighboring states.”

Whether its stolen cars, property or break-ins, area law enforcement say crime does not stay within the city limits.

“Not just in Brookings, but in Brookings County we have been experiencing some rural burglaries and those types of things,” Brookings County Sherriff Marty Stanwick said.

“We're seeing the offender is very mobile. The offender may be from Sioux Falls, they're going out in the county,” Captain Niedringhaus said.

With the armed robberies in Brookings county and other recent burglaries and thefts, law enforcement say it shows crime can happen anywhere, even in rural America.

“These types of things can happen everywhere, in the rural areas, places where there isn't a lot of population, we get complacent, and feel immune from those,” Sheriff Stanwick said.

“Nobody locks their doors,” Brookings County farmer Austin Berwald said. “It’s pretty safe; we're kind of in our own little bubble out here.”

It's a common mindset in many rural communities, but county sheriffs say even on the farm, homeowners need to be vigilant.

“In a rural areas we have a tendency to leave our keys in our cars or you have farmers that have keys in their pick ups…but you should lock the doors of your vehicle, even if its on your farm,” Sheriff Stanwick said.

Friday morning, the Brookings county sheriff’s department also arrested an Elkton man for stealing a truck and trailer parked outside the local lumber yard.

“One of the most obvious reasons is less people around, and that's concerning,” Captain Niedringhaus said. “That’s where the people that live in these communities or rural areas, have to rely on their neighbors…when they do see vehicles and things they're not used to, call their local sheriffs office to notify them.”

Local sheriffs say home security cameras and systems are also a good idea in rural areas. And it’s also important for your family to have a plan in place as emergency response times can take longer in rural areas.