Is Brookings Safe? Crime Rates & Safety Report

Updated On April 12, 2024
Brookings, United States
Safety Index:
* Based on Research & Crime Data

Eastern South Dakota’s Brookings is a charming town rich in history, culture, and natural beauty.

Even with just 23,000 residents, it’s among the top five largest cities in the state.

Brookings is home to South Dakota State University, a renowned institution known for its academic excellence and vibrant campus life.

The university contributes to the town’s dynamic atmosphere, hosting cultural events, sports games, and educational programs throughout the year.

The university was founded in 1881, just 30 years after the town’s namesake arrived on the prairie.

It was first the railroad in the late 1800s that brought more people to Brookings.

Heck, it even forced several other smaller settlements to become ghost towns since the railroad skipped them.

Brookings is also on the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Highway, and her homestead, written about in Little House on the Prairie, is less than an hour away.

It is worth noting that, with all the things to do in eastern South Dakota, this isn’t a place to stay if you’re looking to visit Mount Rushmore or Badlands National Park.

Those are all at least five hours west of Brookings.

Warnings & Dangers in Brookings

Overall Risk


There's a low risk in Brookings and a great number of things to do for a town of 24,000 people. That goes for the daytime activities and nightlife.

Transport & Taxis Risk


Check the schedule for the BATA Bus in Brookings, or download the MyRide App to check the routes. This could be a great solution to getting around town. Taxis and rideshares are available, but you will need to get to Brookings and a rental car is a great idea. All options are low risk.

Pickpockets Risk


The risk is low, with below-average theft rates and just two purse snatchings reported in five years. You should still use common safety practices when carrying your purse or wallet, but this is a place where someone is more likely to tell you that you dropped your wallet than steal it.

Natural Disasters Risk


This is a medium risk as weather threats run throughout the year. Winters can be dangerously cold and snowy (and long). Spring brings a tornado risk that runs through the summer. Wildfires, drought, high winds, flooding, and dangerous lightning can cause challenging conditions to even go outside. All threats come with advance notice, but you can't afford to stop paying attention to the weather forecast here.

Mugging Risk


Robberies in Brookings are rarely above two in a year. The risk is low, but you also need to use smart safety tactics, especially if you're out at night. Even a low risk doesn't mean no risk.

Terrorism Risk


This is another low risk, as this small town is surrounded by miles of agricultural land and is not near any large cities or potential hard targets. Domestic terrorism and mass shootings are far too common in America, so you should also pay attention to potential suspicious activity and report it.

Scams Risk


Most of the scams here focus on the residents, such as a police impersonator demanding money for fake warrants. You can always check the city and police websites or social media sites to see the latest scams before you visit, but the risk is low.

Women Travelers Risk


Women have a low risk, like anyone else, and I'd even feel safe being a solo traveler here. College-aged women should know the safety steps for enjoying nightlife and always have a friend with them when enjoying a night on the town.

Tap Water Risk


The 2022 Water Quality Report shows full compliance and no violations. Plus, U.S. cities are required to comply with the Safe Water Drinking Act, which means annual testing for certain potential contaminants.

Safest Places to Visit in Brookings

Visit Brookings, SD is the name of the tourism website for the city and county.

A free tourist guide is available to download without having to share information like an email or phone number.

Explore the historic downtown district, which features charming boutiques, local restaurants, and vibrant street art.

Visitors can shop for unique gifts, dine at farm-to-table eateries, and soak in the small-town atmosphere.

The website to learn more is

While you’re there, pick up a map from the Brookings Historic Preservation Commission to find a self-guided tour of notable locations.

Another map is available of the Central Historic District, which is a residential area filled with beloved homes from different eras.

More history can be found by appointment at the Centennial Pioneer Cabin, offering a glimpse into life as a homesteader on the South Dakota plains.

The campus is home to the South Dakota Agricultural Heritage Museum and the South Dakota Art Museum.

The other side of campus offers Welcome to McCrory Gardens, with beautiful floral displays and walkways.

The Children’s Museum of South Dakota taps the hearts of kids of all ages with everything from animatronic dinosaurs to life on the prairie playrooms.

When the weather is warm, several exhibits are outside.

Standing at an impressive height of 165 feet, the Coughlin Campanile was completed in 1929 and named after Thomas Coughlin, a former South Dakota governor and member of the university’s Board of Regents.

Are you up for a 180-step walk to the top for scenic views across the landscape of Brookings?

The nearby parks offer four seasons of outdoor activities, from skating rinks in the winter to summer sports and hiking.

A year-round indoor water park is another great way to have a splashing good time in Brookings.

About 45 miles west of Brookings in De Smet, the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Homes celebrate the Little House on the Prairie author.

You’ll see the actual locations referenced in her books, including the “Little House” that Pa built and where Almonzo lived.

A Discovery Center offers hands-on attractions to learn more about life on the prairie.

Places to Avoid in Brookings

Brookings doesn’t have dangerous neighborhoods or bad parts of town, but it is a college environment, so housing around the campus might be a little noisier than some visitors might like.

All the hotels are grouped in the same part of town, right by I-29 and Highway 14.

This can create an easy prey environment for thieves looking to break into cars.

Don’t forget to lock your car and remove all personal items before you park for the night.

Ideally, you can park your car within view of your hotel room window.

If you aren’t familiar with South Dakota winters, you might want to avoid visiting during that time.

The cold temperatures are exacerbated by wind chills, which can bring the “feels like” temperature below 0°F.

Always check road conditions through SD 511 before you travel to see if there are storms brewing at your destination.

Winter storms can create blizzard conditions and make driving nearly impossible.

Warm weather brings tornadoes, dust storms, and wildfires.

You won’t have many places to seek safety in the rural areas.

One last thing – there’s Brookings, Oregon, which comes up first in most search results.

Be sure you’re looking at the South Dakota iteration with the area code 605.

Safety Tips for Traveling to Brookings

  1. Brookings has a local police department, and you can follow them on Facebook @BPDSD. The phone number is (605)692-2113 if you have specific safety questions.
  2. South Dakota State University also has a police department. Their Facebook page is @SDSUPD, and their phone number is (605) 688-5117.
  3. Use the Notify Me section of the city’s website to get emergency alerts about safety, weather, weather-related impacts, and other public hazards. There’s also an Alert Center where you can check the latest hazards.
  4. The police department takes anonymous tips on criminal activity or suspicious actions. All you have to do is call 605-692-STOP (7867) and leave a message. You can also use the P3 Tips app for reporting.
  5. Parking rules are different for downtown vs. campus. Guests can get a parking pass for the university, and most of the downtown parking is free, but you can’t leave a car parked for more than 72 hours. Some downtown streets don’t allow parking. Be sure to check the signs before you park.
  6. If significant snow falls during your visit, the city will enact a snow parking ban to allow the snow plows to clear the roads. If you don’t move your car, you risk getting towed or a pricey ticket. Choose a public parking lot in the event that it happens.
  7. Brookings also has a lot of alleys around its downtown core, and you should know that parking in the alleys is illegal. When exiting an alley, give the right of way to drivers on the main road.
  8. The drinking age in South Dakota is 21, and police regularly check local liquor stores and bars for proper compliance and ID checks.
  9. The university offers a safety escort for all students. You don’t have to face a safety threat or anything like that – just call 605-688-5117 to get a police department safety escort wherever you need to go on campus.
  10. All anglers need a fishing license from the South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks Department. Kids under 18 have a special license (and a less expensive option).

So... How Safe Is Brookings Really?

All in all, Brookings is a relatively safe town.

The violent crime rate is 52% lower than the state average and 55% lower than the national average.

On top of that, only 3% of violent crimes involved strangers over the past five years.

Theft is 17% lower than the national average, with 20% accounting for car break-ins.

Locking your car and removing personal items should eliminate that risk.

South Dakota State University in Brookings has been ranked as the safest in the state.

Even looking for anecdotal crime stories to tell you about, the police department posts more about parking reminders and homeless dogs than actual crimes happening.

Even several big headlines about “deaths” in Brookings were health issues or other natural causes of death and not criminal activity.

The weather and natural disaster risks are the larger concern, but preparing for the worst and hoping for the best will ensure you’re safe for all the activities during your trip to Brookings, South Dakota.

How Does Brookings Compare?

CitySafety Index
Los Angeles56
New Orleans57
Washington DC56
Siem Reap (Cambodia)63
Phnom Penh (Cambodia)61
Niagara Falls (Canada)87
Calgary (Canada)82
Buenos Aires (Argentina)60
Vancouver (Canada)82

Useful Information



Travelers from certain countries may require a visa. It's essential to check the U.S. Department of State website or consult with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate to confirm specific visa requirements based on citizenship. Additionally, travelers should ensure their passports have sufficient validity beyond their intended stay, usually six months.



The U.S. Dollar is the only currency accepted in the U.S. You should consider taking care of that at your home bank for the lowest rates and easiest access. Small towns like Brookings will likely only have ATMs to give you USD unless you are a member of a local bank.



From late November through Early March, temperatures usually stay below freezing. Layer up with insulated and waterproof clothing and outerwear. Summers will be warm but not too hot - highs in the low 80s. Bring sunscreen and bug spray.



Watertown Regional Airport (ATY) and Sioux Falls Regional Airport (FSD) are each about 50 miles away. Minneapolis-St. Paul (Minnesota) International Airport is the largest option but requires a 3-4 hour drive.

Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance helps protect against delays, cancelations, health emergencies, and theft. It's a wise investment to help you enjoy your travels with less stress.

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Brookings Weather Averages (Temperatures)

Jan -9° C
Feb -7° C
Mar 0° C
Apr 8° C
May 15° C
Jun 20° C
Jul 23° C
Aug 21° C
Sep 16° C
Oct 9° C
Nov 1° C
Dec -7° C
Choose Temperature Unit

Average High/Low Temperature

Temperature / MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec

South Dakota - Safety by City

CitySafety Index
Hill City83
North Sioux City70
Rapid City57
Sioux Falls76

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