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Pennington County Sheriff reports more calls for service, burglaries

Pennington County Sheriff's Department

The most recent statistical report has released by the Pennington County Sheriff’s Department shows an increase in the number of burglaries and auto thefts.

With 63 reported on the year so far, there has been a 75% increase in burglaries year-over-year, and a 21% increase in car thefts.

Authorities attribute this increase to a single group of individuals operating out of Rapid Valley. In those cases, multiple arrests have been made and those cases are currently working through the court system.

Minor decreases were found in assault and non-auto theft cases, though cars continue to get broken into at an increasing rate in the area. Authorities said frequently, firearms left in cars are stolen and used in future felonies, which has led to local outreach efforts.

Calls for service, arrests, and citations have continued to go up year-over-year for the fast-growing county. This has led to a 4% increase in jail intakes to this point. That compounds challenges at a full Pennington County Jail, which has been at or above 85% capacity for nearly a decade and averages about 600 inmates a day.

Another increase can be found at the Western South Dakota Juvenile Services facility. Authorities have reported higher rates of mental health need and more youths staying longer with more serious charges.

The newly founded IGNITE initiative, an inmate education program, continues to establish itself, offering GED, parenting and addiction counseling to participants.

The Rapid City Care Campus, which offers addiction services, has also reported fewer intakes year-over-year – a 9% drop to this point.

C.J. Keene is a Rapid City-based journalist covering the legal system, education, and culture