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Published July 02 2012

AG says Oil Patch no more dangerous than rest of ND

BISMARCK — The likelihood of being a victim of a crime in North Dakota’s Oil Patch is not much different than it is in the rest of the state and may even be lower in some cases, the state’s attorney general said Monday.

Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem released North Dakota’s crime statistics for 2011 and addressed crime perceptions in North Dakota’s oil cities in the western part of the state.

“While it is certainly accurate that crime is up and up considerably in a worrisome way in some of those counties in the Oil Patch, the major reason that is happening is because the population is up,” Stenehjem said.

The number of aggravated assaults reported in the oil counties increased from 180 in 2010 to 279 in 2011. However, the population of those counties also increased from 148,515 to 180,434 between 2010 and 2011.

“The chance of anybody being a victim of an aggravated assault (in the Oil Patch) really is about the same as it is across the rest of North Dakota,” Stenehjem said.

Although women may be worried about an increased risk for rape in western North Dakota—which has seen an influx of male oil workers— the odds are statistically lower than elsewhere in the state, he said.

The statewide number of forcible rapes decreased from 222 in 2010 to 207 in 2011. Twenty-five percent of North Dakota’s population is in oil counties, and 16 percent of the rapes occurred there, Stenehjem said.

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