Is Mitchell Safe? Crime Rates & Safety Report

Updated On April 12, 2024
Mitchell, United States
Safety Index:
81
* Based on Research & Crime Data

Mitchell, South Dakota, welcomes visitors with its small-town charm and rich agricultural heritage.

While the city doesn’t have more than 16,000 residents, more than half a million people come each year to see the famed “Corn Palace.”

Mitchell started as a railroad town in 1879, with the surrounding farmland and railroad connections making it a hub of activity.

Before the turn of that century, the Corn Palace was built, eventually becoming a mainstay attraction on the way to or from Mount Rushmore or Badlands National Park.

Visitors here get a taste of small-town, upper Midwest hospitality, with easy access to Interstate 90.

Plenty of hotels wait for weary travelers or excited visitors, a bonus in a town that might otherwise only have a handful of options.

Visiting Mitchell also could mean an hour side trip from Sioux Falls, as there’s plenty to do for a day trip or a weekend getaway.

The only thing I can warn you about is the number of times you’ll hear a play on words about “corn” or “maize.”

Warnings & Dangers in Mitchell

Overall Risk

OVERALL RISK: LOW

There's a low risk in Mitchell and enough things to do to fill a weekend or even a week if you space things out or just want a slower-paced experience.

Transport & Taxis Risk

TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW

Palace Transit is the local system, offering on-demand services. Taxis and rideshares are available, but not as frequently as you'd find in a larger city. You'll need a rental car or Greyhound bus ticket to get to Mitchell.

Pickpockets Risk

PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW

Over the past five years, eight pickpockets or purse snatchings have been reported. It is still a low risk, but you'll want to keep a close eye on your purse and/or wallet while limiting what you carry to the essentials.

Natural Disasters Risk

NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM

This is a medium risk because South Dakota can get some gnarly weather. Winter weather can lead to ice storms, blizzards, dangerously cold temperatures, and wind chills well below zero. Spring brings tornado season, with severe thunderstorms, large hail, and dangerous lighting quite common. Wildfires and grassfires are another concern throughout the year, with a peak in summer. All weather events come with a certain degree of advanced notice, but you must pay close attention to the forecast.

Mugging Risk

MUGGING RISK: LOW

Since 2019, only one or two robberies have happened each year in Mitchell. The risk is low.

Terrorism Risk

TERRORISM RISK: LOW

The city is so small and rural that terrorism isn't a concern here. At least not beyond the unpredictability of domestic terrorism and mass shootings that happen all too often in the United States. The best thing you can do is to report any suspicious activity.

Scams Risk

SCAMS RISK: LOW

I noticed a lot of scam posts on the police department and city media sites, but they were mostly garden-variety focused on locals. It's wise to check those same reports before you visit, but if you're hip to the most common scam trends, the risk will be low.

Women Travelers Risk

WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW

This is another low risk with a family-friendly town and a great place to visit for women of all ages.

Tap Water Risk

TAP WATER RISK: LOW

Mitchell has passed all requirements for tap water testing for the past 20 years, leading to being given the Secretary’s Award for Drinking Water Excellence by the South Dakota Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources. That's about as low risk as you can get!

Safest Places to Visit in Mitchell

The tourism website is VisitMitchell.com, and you’ll find a great summary of all the things to do, places to eat, and lodging available in the area.

Download the Digital Visitor Guide without having to give personal information.

Begin your journey with a visit to the iconic Corn Palace, a one-of-a-kind structure adorned with murals made entirely of corn and other grains.

Each year, the Corn Palace undergoes a transformation with new designs, showcasing the artistic talent and agricultural heritage of the region.

Plus, it’s free!

If you really like the Corn Palace, don’t miss the annual Corn Palace Festival in late August.

It’s a celebration of the harvest season featuring live music, parades, carnival rides, and plenty of corn-themed festivities.

For a taste of local flavor, make sure to stop by one of Mitchell’s charming downtown eateries.

From cozy cafes serving up homemade comfort food to eclectic bistros offering creative cuisine, there’s something to satisfy every palate.

Mitchell Main Street’s website has a full list of the places to explore.

For a glimpse into the past, head to the Dakota Discovery Museum, where exhibits chronicle the history of the Dakota Territory, Native American culture, and pioneer life on the prairie.

Explore artifacts, artwork, and interactive displays that bring the stories of the region to life.

South Dakota is known for its outdoor wonders, and you’ll love to explore Lake Mitchell, a scenic reservoir offering opportunities for boating, fishing, and picnicking.

Take a leisurely stroll along the shoreline or cast a line into the water in search of walleye, bass, and other freshwater species.

Discover the beauty of the region’s flora at the Mitchell Prehistoric Indian Village, an archaeological site showcasing the remains of a Native American village dating back over 1,000 years.

Explore reconstructed lodges, view ancient artifacts, and learn about the daily lives of the village inhabitants.

Several hunting and fishing outfitters are in town, offering guided tours during particular game seasons.

It’s a wonderful way to make sure you’re in compliance with the laws while finding the best spots.

If you’re planning to visit the national park properties, like Wind Cave or Badlands, plan for a three to five-hour drive.

Places to Avoid in Mitchell

Mitchell doesn’t have bad parts of town or dangerous neighborhoods.

In fact, it’s so small that if one part was dangerous, they all would be!

A huge motorcycle rally is held throughout South Dakota each August, referred to as “Sturgis.”

Mitchell isn’t the focal point, but there are events held here as the riders go across the state.

The event runs from the first Friday in August through the second Sunday.

If you are hoping to avoid crowds in South Dakota, plan a trip around those dates.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to keep an eye on the weather.

With so much rural area around you, phone service, help, and even another passing car could take hours if you’re stuck or lost.

Severe storms can be seen for miles on the horizon, but they’ll always look farther away than they are, and winter snow can quickly turn into blizzard conditions.

Safety Tips for Traveling to Mitchell

  1. Mitchell has a local police department. You can call (605) 995-8400 with specific safety questions. You can also follow them on Facebook @mitchellpolicedepartment.
  2. While you’re there, follow the Davison County Sheriff’s Office at @DavisonCountySheriff. That agency covers crime and safety issues outside the Mitchell city boundaries. Their phone number is (605) 995-8630.
  3. Follow the county emergency management agency as well @DavisonCountyEmergencyManagement. You’ll get great safety and planning advice for all the severe and threatening weather that can happen in Mitchell and surrounding areas.
  4. To get road alerts from the state Department of Transportation, text “MITCHELL37” to 605-566-4041.
  5. The city website also has an option to sign up for “Notify Me” messages that impact safety or daily life. For example, if a blizzard is approaching, the Notify Me message would detail snow parking bans or warning centers.
  6. With the scattering of small towns in this part of South Dakota, one National Weather Service office will cover a lot of places. In Mitchell, it’s the office out of Sioux Falls, with the three-letter code of FSD.
  7. Parking is free in Mitchell, but during big events, the city gets crowded and finding a spot can be challenging. It helps to map out the parking options before you go. You can do that through the Mitchell Main Street website.
  8. Anglers and hunters need to get a license from the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department. You are required to carry that license with you at all times while taking part in the applicable activity.
  9. Several train lines run through Mitchell, but not all intersections have crossing arms. If the lights are activated at a crossing, be sure to come to a complete stop behind the white line. Never try to “beat” the train.
  10. South Dakota is prone to wildfires, which could impact whether you’re able to set up a campfire or use certain equipment. Always check the wildfire map before you arrive and then check for burn bans during your visit. A Red Flag warning is issued of winds and low humidity levels create an extreme fire danger.

So... How Safe Is Mitchell Really?

During my research, I saw one ranking that put Mitchell as the 7th Most Dangerous City in South Dakota, and I can’t figure out how that is even possible.

The violent crime rate is 29% below the national level and still 14% below the state level.

In addition:

  • Violent crime was down 33% between 2021 and 2022.
  • Over the past five years, 16% of crime victims were strangers to their assailants.
  • In addition, 62% of all violent crimes happen in private homes.

Property crime is 28% higher than the national average, but if you look closely, that’s fueled by the larceny category of “Other.”

Further investigation revealed that it includes farm equipment and construction supplies, all of which can go for a nice penny on the black market.

This also explains why the theft rate is 45% higher than the national average.

Even burglaries are down to two a month in Mitchell.

On average, four cars are stolen each month, down from six in 2020.

A decade ago, that was one a month.

Rounding out the rest of theft concerns, 25% is attributed to shoplifting, and 16% are car break-ins.

That’s on the lower end of car break-ins, as most cities I’ve researched nationwide hover between 25% and 35%.

It’s usually because people leave their cars unlocked or keys inside with valuables in plain sight.

Mitchell’s crime and safety balance is pretty basic, meaning that common sense and standard personal protection steps go a long way.

Just don’t forget to check the weather forecast.

How Does Mitchell Compare?

CitySafety Index
Mitchell81
Detroit56
New York City67
Miami55
San Diego67
Chicago65
Honolulu65
Toronto (Canada)81
Cordoba (Argentina)61
Montreal (Canada)81
Melbourne (Australia)80
Santiago de Chile (Chile)71
Sydney (Australia)80

Useful Information

Visas

Visas

A visa or visa waiver is required for any non-U.S. citizen. Plus, your passport has to be more than six months from expiring based on the last day of your trip. The U.S. State Department has a wealth of resources to get you started.

Currency

Currency

The U.S. Dollar is the only currency accepted here, but you'll want to get cash before arriving in Mitchell. Most regional airports won't have currency exchange outside of ATMs. Your home bank is the place with the lowest rates.

Weather

Weather

Plan for long, cold winters here. Bring several layers to wear outside with insulated outerwear and snow boots. Spring and fall can fluctuate, and summers will be warm but not too hot most of the time. Bug spray is essential when the temperature is above freezing.

Airports

Airports

Mitchell has a general aviation airport, so you'll need to drive 70 miles to Sioux Falls Regional Airport for the closest commercial option. Greyhound buses also stop in Mitchell.

Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance

Comprehensive travel insurance is the best investment to eliminate anxiety when traveling overseas. Be sure you have health coverage in case of emergencies and rental car insurance, including roadside assistance.

Click here to get an offer for travel insurance

Mitchell Weather Averages (Temperatures)

Jan -7° C
Feb -6° C
Mar 3° C
Apr 10° C
May 16° C
Jun 22° C
Jul 25° C
Aug 23° C
Sep 19° C
Oct 11° C
Nov 3° C
Dec -6° C
Choose Temperature Unit

Average High/Low Temperature

Temperature / MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
High
°C
-208162228312925178-1
Low
°C
-12-11-339151816124-3-10
High
°F
283246617282888477634630
Low
°F
101227374859646154392714

South Dakota - Safety by City

CitySafety Index
Brookings80
Deadwood80
Hill City83
Mitchell81
North Sioux City70
Pierre81
Rapid City57
Sioux Falls76
Spearfish80
Sturgis80

Where to Next?

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