December 2, 2013

NYT: Crime in Dakota oil patch: It's a trend!

Another headline from the New York Times in its continuing series: "Blue Collar Prosperity in North Dakota -- Yecch!"
As Oil Floods Plains Towns, Crime Pours In
One cold morning last year, a math teacher jogging through her hometown in eastern Montana was abducted, strangled and buried in a shallow grave. Charged in her death were two drifters from Colorado, drawn to the region by the allure of easy money in the oil fields.
One hundred fifty miles away, in a bustling oil town in North Dakota, a 30-year-old man disappeared one afternoon from the street where he had been putting in water and sewer pipes, leaving behind a lunchbox with his paycheck inside and a family grasping for answers. After months of searching, his mother said she now believes her son is gone, buried somewhere on the high plain.

Two crimes, 150 miles apart: It's a trend, and therefore, unlike Knockout Game, it's news.
Stories like these, once rare, have become as common as drilling rigs in rural towns at the heart of one of the nation’s richest oil booms. Crime has soared as thousands of workers and rivers of cash have flowed into towns, straining police departments and shattering residents’ sense of safety. 
“It just feels like the modern-day Wild West,” said Sgt. Kylan Klauzer, an investigator in Dickinson, in western North Dakota. The Dickinson police handled 41 violent crimes last year, up from seven only five years ago. 
To the police and residents, the violence shows how a modern-day gold rush is transforming the rolling plains and farm towns where people once fretted about a population drain. Today, four-story chain hotels are rising, and small apartments rent for $2,000 a month. Two-lane roads are jammed with tractor-trailers. Fast-food restaurants offer $300 signing bonuses for new employees, and jobs as gas station attendants can pay $50,000 a year. Workers flush with cash are snapping up A.T.V.s, and hotel menus offer crab and artichoke dip and bacon-wrapped dates. 

A pattern I've noticed is the New York Times' fear and loathing of prosperity in North Dakota. It's weird. The normal human reaction to a cold, emptying-out place finally getting a lucky break would be, "Oh, that's nice." But to the NYT, North Dakota is an endless horrorshow of cashiers making $24 per hour and other atrocities.
Last year, a study by officials in Montana and North Dakota found that crime had risen by 32 percent since 2005 in communities at the center of the boom. 

According to the report by North Dakota and Montana law enforcement agencies wanting, not unreasonably, their cut of the new tax dollars, the population in the Williston area is up 17 percent. So, per capita, the crime rate is up 13% over seven years, or, in effect, a couple of percent per year. A per capita increase in crime of two percent per year doesn't sound like all that much, but it's a Trend! So, therefore it's National News.

A very large fraction of the newcomers are younger men, so the crime rate may even have fallen per capita among, say, males 18-45. 

Still, you don't want to statistically adjust away everything: obviously, it's a rowdier place than a decade ago when so many young people were leaving North Dakota.

Relative to inner city America, how crime-ridden is the Oil Patch? Well, toward the end of the long article:
While the raw numbers of murders and rapes remain low, every few months seem to bring an act of violence that flares like a gas flame on the dark prairie, shaking a community and underscoring how much life here is changing.

I think that answers your question.


Thursday said...

The NYTimes is exaggerating, but any area suddenly filled up with young men without roots is going to see an uptick in crime and such.

Boom times in the Alberta oil fields are known for corresponding increases in drug addiction, as young men make a lot of money and then snort it away.

Anonymous said...

No post or comment on Paul Walker's death?

Marc Pisco said...

A sustained 2% a year sounds like "all that much" to me -- but not at all strange, under the circumstances. People will put up with it for the right job.

Speaking of which, is it as high as the crime rate in the average NYT reporter's neighborhood yet? Of course not. But since ND is a Blank Space on the map occupied by incomprehensible inhuman monsters, it's still much scarier.

Absolom Humblebug said...

Ever since 1998 I was under the impression from the NY Times that the main pastime of rural people in Wyoming was kidnapping sensitive young homosexual men and beating them to death in the bleak Wyoming countryside. Glad to hear that those vulgar tobacco-chomping money-clutching beasts have finally moved on to murdering one another. Thank you NY Times for keeping me up to date on the monstrous rubes out in the hinterland provinces.

el supremo said...

The NY Times seems to have 3 templates for reporting on small towns in the Midwest:

- Small town fading away and fallen on hard times due to closure of factory / migration of young people
- Small town reinvigorated through arrival of sundry foreigners -Mexicans, resettled refugees, etc. Town now vibrant with delicious ethnic food restaurant.
- Small town experiencing economic boom that is driving a troubling increase in crime and/or unsightly sprawl

The template they choose varies depending on the town, but its always one of them, and of course they are always quite flattering to the ideas and prejudices of their readers.

In coverage of small towns near where NY Times readers live, they occasionally write about how they are revitalized as a center of the arts or organic/artisinal food production, but as Times readers are never going to visit South Dakota that spin doesn't get applied too much out there.

Marc B said...

I wonder how many articles covering the crime wave that follows redirected residents from big city projects into smaller municipalities? How are White Plains, NY, Lancaster, CA Richmond, CA or Peoria,IL doing after the waves of exported Section 8 tenants have taken up residence there? I'd love to see how the NYT covers these developments.

Luke Lea said...

It's not just small towns in the upper Mid-West. The NYT has it out for small towns in upstate New York

Here is the backstory with some interesting comments.

Sailer thinks NYT does a pretty good job on controversial issues. But not always.

Anonymous said...

Wikipedia on Dickinson, ND: "The rapid growth of the city has led to an increase in crime and homelessness within the city limits. Also the city has seen an increase in diversity, with increases in the Latino, Asian and African American populations." This alone probably accounts for small crime increase every year.

pat said...

One of the reasons that the movie 'Fargo' was so startling is that we expect public murder and gunplay to be summer activities. In our mind's eye we see Eastwood in a Southwest desert town. He's sweating. We assume that if it snowed everyone would just 'cool off'.

The whole 'Wild West' legend is very limited in time and place. Fifty years earlier and they would be meeting in the street at noon with flintlocks. Fifty years later with Uzis. Neither really works.

Nor does the Samurai experience translate well to the Wild West. The real Samurai didn't duel they committed suicide when the daimyo commanded. Hardly a wild way to resolve disputes.

We have more unique social situations and settings in reality than we have movie genres. We need a creative genius to establish a new style to depict these Dakota Patch crimes. Alas we may need new audiences too.


countenance said...

Yes, I'm going to go there.

Why might crime in ND and MT oil boom towns be increasing?

Because Hispanics are tricking in thinking they can find work.

Earlier this year, there was a story here in St. Louis about a trio of illegal alien Hispanics from Mexico. I can't remember the exact circumstances of the crime -- It was either two of them victimizing the third, one victimizing the other two, one of them victimizing a local resident, or all three victimizing a local resident. But I do remember it said that all three told the cops they were on their way to North Dakota to look for work.

Now, as for the subject matter at hand, I have noticed that the national media seem to have a scornful attitude about oil boom towns. Why? I don't think it's any more complicated than the fact that liberals are jealous that white men who didn't go to college are making more money than liberals who did but whose degrees only get their foot in the door being a Starbucks barrista. People hung up on formal education have an automatic entitlement mentality that they more formal education they have, the more they automatically deserve to earn than those who don't. So when you add that to blue state jealousy over red state white men earning serious money, the rabid mouth foaming comes out in the pages of the NYT.

That leads me to one more point. You had an article in here a few weeks ago about immigration and a study from Oxford:

To that thread, I submitted a comment that didn't appear probably because it got sucked into Blogspot's comment black hole for a bad word I used. So I refuted some of the author's point in my own soapbox:

The relevant point there is this:

In high-income societies, the effect of immigration on the average incomes of the indigenous population is trivial.

I highly disagree.

To wit: North Dakota.

In oil boom towns, because of the scarcity of labor, (hint: North Dakota’s winters), the big box marts and fast feeders can’t get anyone to work for under $15 an hour. If America maintained its 1924 immigration policy in terms of both origin countries and numbers, the effective minimum wage for such “dead end” jobs in Southern California would be even higher today.

agnostic said...

I don't the rise in crime has been so small, overall or annually.

For the entire country, violent crime rates peak around 1992. The latest data are from 2012. Sometimes the peak in Montana or North Dakota rates are in the 2000s, but we'll just do the 2012 rates to keep it current.

Crime rate type
Total increase (MT, ND)
Annual increase (MT, ND)

Aggravated assault

Total: 86%, 264%
Annual 4%, 13%

Forcible rape

Total: 48%, 67%
Annual: 2%, 3%


Total: -7%, 111%
Annual: 0.3%, 6%


Total: -29%, 137%
Annual: -1%, 7%

Those are statewide estimates, so Montana's numbers are probably weighted more by the western and populous region, while North Dakota's probably reflect the sudden arrival of lots of people.

North Dakota's crime wave is nothing to brush off, whether cumulative or annual changes. Especially when compared to the national picture, where violent crime rates have plummeted to nearly half what they were in '92.

agnostic said...

Annual murder rate for MT should have a negative sign. -0.3%

Portlander said...

Well, as Uncle Joe would say, "one murder is a tragedy; five over a weekend is a statistic."

Dave Pinsen said...

The interview with the Korean economist I linked to in the comment thread of a previous post included another example of supply & demand affecting wages. The economist said that a Korean leader raised wages by 30% simply by making 12 grades of education compulsory and taking teens out of the labor market.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for percentages -which mean nothing without the raw numbers. Good try though.

I miss the old-timey NYT stories about small town bigotry, and how their Christianity and whiteness made big city Jews and Black people uncomfortable and/or scared. I guess Kulture Kamp has been so successful no such stories are needed anymore.

Henry Canaday said...

I visited North Dakota for the first time in my life a couple weeks ago. Admittedly, it was in the eastern, agricultural part of the state, around Grand Forks. The two most striking features of this part of North Dakota are: 1) it’s very cold; and 2) people are extremely nice to each other and to visitors. Perhaps these features are related. You never know when you may have to duck into a stranger’s house to avoid freezing to death, so you better be nice to everyone.

Locals judge the winter weather by wind, not temperature, which is always somewhere around zero. Wind at only 10 miles per hour means a mild winter day, but at 40 mph it’s starting to get a bit brisk.

Grand Forks is flat and laid out in a grid. It has two good restaurants, which is all any city needs. It’s enough to maintain competition but not so many as to prompt the wives into endless discussion of their preferences. Proof of which is that people from Winnipeg drive south to Grand Forks for a little excitement. If they are really feeling crazy, they can then drive another couple hours to Fargo.

I used to think hills and trees made a landscape beautiful and interesting. But there is a spare beauty in seeing the sun come up or go down across an absolutely straight, uncluttered horizon.

Another plus: Grand Forks International Airport has two gates, one for Delta and one for United. The TSA staff are not exactly stressed out and are the friendliest TSA screeners I have met. They chat pleasantly with travelers as they pass through.

Not Times Square.

Anonymous said...

If crime really was "an act of violence that flares like a gas flame on the dark prairie" New York City wouldn't need any streetlights.

JWS said...

Getting accustomed to Steve's Standard Who? Whom? style analyses. The oil boom is making elderly farmers extremely rich off royalty checks, and providing middle-class blue collar jobs to teens and twentysomethings who don't have a college education. Many of these people all fall into the class that Christian Lander called "the wrong kind of white people." Even worse, the fracking phenomenon is generating a fortune for America's old-money oil families, a class of people that the liberal establishment probably fears and hates more than anyone, which is why Hollywood has made the evil oil baron a la Daniel Plainview a stock villain character.

Although too be fair, the NYT magazine did a lengthy and even-handed feature on the North Dakota Oil Boom back in January.

agnostic said...

"Thanks for percentages -which mean nothing without the raw numbers."

Don't talk like an idiot, an increase of over 100% is obviously a huge change, aside from proving the point about it being a clear trend.

Let's compare North Dakota to a typical POS, NAM-crammed blue state, say New Jersey. From most striking cases to least.

Crime rate type
Year: NJ, ND

Forcible rape

1992: 31, 23
2012: 12, 39

Aggravated assault

1992: 305, 50
2012: 146, 183


1992: 5, 2
2012: 4, 4


1992: 285, 8
2012: 128, 19

Only in robberies does New Jersey still blow North Dakota away.

ND used to have less than half the murder rate that NJ did, now they're about equal (NJ has a slight lead). Hear that? You're about as likely to get murdered in North Dakota as in New fuggin Jersey.

Although the aggravated assault rate in ND used to be about 15% of the NJ rate, it is now 25% greater. MORE likely to get seriously harmed by some punk in ND.

And while ND used to have about 66% of NJ's rape rate, women are now more than 3 times as likely to get raped in North Dakota.

Aside from the fact that all those rates are plummeting in NJ and rising in ND.

But North Dakota is full of whites, so there's no way a 264% increase could amount to anything really terrifying, like in New Jersey.

What percentage increase would have triggered your alarm -- 1000? 10,000? "Nope, still amounts to nothing, not caused by NAMs in the ghetto..."

Anonymous said...

An increase from 1 to 3 is a three hundred percent increase - but its still 3.


agnostic said...

What about the idea that the crime wave is due to an influx of NAMs? That doesn't work either.

Take the case of rape rates. In 1992, it was 31 per 100K in NJ, and fell to 12 by 2012. In 1992 in ND, it was 23. If they had fallen by the same degree among the largely white population, they should have fallen to 9 by 2012 -- but in fact shot up to 39.

In 2010, ND was 90% white, and no less than 88% non-Hispanic white. Hence 12% non-white.

What would the non-white rape rate have to be, so that the weighted average of the white and non-white rates would yield the actual rate of 39?

About 260 -- an order of magnitude beyond any realistic place that the non-whites could come from. Even Mexico's rape rate is only 13, similar to New Jersey.

Conclusion: the bulk of the rise in the rape rate in ND is due to whites. The rise is so much greater than the declines elsewhere would predict, and there aren't enough non-whites in the state to pick up the slack, so to speak.

agnostic said...

Using the same approach, we find that the skyrocketing rate of aggravated assault is also not explainable by non-whites. Their rate would have to be 1350 per 100K, around 5 times the going rate in Mexico.

For the murder rate, the non-whites would have to be at about 20 per 100K. That's possible if they came from sub-Saharan Africa, Central America, or the Caribbean.

But Occam's Razor says we already have two cases where non-whites cannot be behind the crime wave, so they aren't needed to explain the third one.

One of the mind-deadening effects of getting too into HBD is that you jump to blame NAMs even when it's not likely. It's not as though Anglo/Scandinavian whites in flyover country have never set off a crime wave before.

Check the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports for the state of Utah. Yep, even NAM-free Mormon land was rocked by the crime wave of the 1960s, '70s, '80s, and into the '90s.

If North Dakota had become, like, 50% NAM with the oil rush, OK sure. But when it's still 90% white, and crime rates have shot up so dramatically, while plummeting everywhere else, the simplest explanation is that NAMs aren't involved.

Anonymous said...

NY Times isn't all bad on pushing low wages. (Krugman just had a column arguing for a higher minimum wage.) The Washington Post is worse. In 2008-2009 it went through the roof over auto workers making $50,000 a year, right while it was screaming that incompetent bankers making orders of magnitude more deserved big government handouts.

Anonymous said...

...shaking a community and underscoring how much life here is changing.

When mass immigration or section 8 shakes a community and underscores how much life in Anywhere, USA has changed, it doesn't seem to garner the same column space.

Anonymous said...

I see that the Sydney Morning Herald of Australia is running this same story almost verbatim. The ONLY difference I can find is that the Aussie version uses kilometers instead of miles to describe North Dakota's geography.

To me this reinforces my view of the power of the American media, especially with English speaking nations. I sure hope this is not the view of America that Aussies and others are getting. But I think it probably is.

@dwbudd said...

agnostic writes:

"Check the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports for the state of Utah. Yep, even NAM-free Mormon land was rocked by the crime wave of the 1960s, '70s, '80s, and into the '90s.

If North Dakota had become, like, 50% NAM with the oil rush, OK sure. But when it's still 90% white, and crime rates have shot up so dramatically, while plummeting everywhere else, the simplest explanation is that NAMs aren't involved."

You raise some very good points, and your opponent demonstrates a somewhat shaky grasp of statistics.

But that said, you seem to be applying Occam's bludgeon here, not Occam's razor.

I don't know whether the change in racial demographics in North Dakota are behind the jump in crime, but I also find it odd you would say that "NAM are not involved" so blithely unfulfilling.

The reason that the statistics here may not be so dispositive as you imply - crime is a young man's game. One would have to look more closely at the demographics of the state in 1992 vs. 2012, not on the whole, but rather, of males, between the age of say, 16 and 30. This is the cohort that is overwhelmingly responsible for violent and property crimes.

I suspect that, if you look at the population of North Dakota, over the age of 30, it is virtually 100 per cent white. I don't have the data at my fingertips, and would be more than happy to be proved wrong.

I would then look at the demographics of single, young men, 1992 vs. 2012.

Again, don't have the data, but would be curious.

Another point is, whilst it's quite right that the argument that a jump from 1 to 2 is a 100 per cent change - large in percentage, but small in absolute terms - is a bit thin (i.e., normalised rates should be used), one significant problem with small denominators is that the point estimates tend to be unstable. If a single year (for whatever reason) sees a relatively large change, that necessarily will imply a "trend" where one may not exist. Larger populations necessarily lead to more stable estimates.

I suggest that the 2012 estimate of murder, rape, assault, etc. in North Dakota is possibly an outlier. Again, I could be wrong. Some sort of weighted moving average might give a more accurate estimate.

The larger point remains, though. There has plainly been an increase in crime in ND - which is at odds with the statistics of the rest of the nation. It seems highly likely that there is a cause/effect here of the oil boom.

As another person pointed out, this should be unsurprising. The boom draws disproportionate numbers of young, single (unattached) males - precisely the cohort most likely to commit crimes.

Whenever we hear arguments about "guest workers," this truth should be kept firmly in mind.

In this particular case though, whether the criminals are white, Asian, or "NAM" is a sideshow.

thirdtwin said...

"Deadwood" lives again! All the NYT needs is a pic of Al Swearengen twirling his mustache.

thirdtwin said...

Kind friends, you must pity my horrible tale,
I am an object of pity, I am looking quite stale,
I gave up my trade selling Right's Patent Pills
To go hunting gold in the dreary Black Hills.

Don't go away, stay at home if you can,
Stay away from that city, they call it Cheyenne,
For big Walipe or Comanche Bills
They will lift up your hair on the dreary Black Hills.

The round-house in Cheyenne is filled every night
With loafers and bummers of most every plight;
On their backs is no clothes, in their pockets no bills,
Each day they keep starting for the dreary Black Hills.

I got to Cheyenne, no gold could I find,
I thought of the lunch route I'd left far behind;
Through rain, hail, and snow, frozen plumb to the gills,--
They call me the orphan of the dreary Black Hills.

Kind friend, to conclude, my advice I'll unfold,
Don't go to the Black Hills a-hunting for gold;
Railroad speculators their pockets you'll fill
By taking a trip to those dreary Black Hills.

Don't go away, stay at home if you can,
Stay away from that city, they call it Cheyenne,
For old Sitting Bull or Comanche Bills
They will take off your scalp on the dreary Black Hills.

jody said...

the violent crime rate will go up in any boom area. but here we are talking about a place going from like 2 or 3 murders per year to 5 or 6 murders per year. a 100% increase in the murder rate leading to only 6 murders? i think they'll take it. 1 million barrels of oil PER DAY is easily worth 3 extra murders per year.

""Don't talk like an idiot, an increase of over 100% is obviously a huge change"

no it's not. a couple murders per year doubled is still...a couple murders.

i thought you were done posting on violent crime but i guess you're not. the violent crime rate in the US went up the last 2 years - you said that could never and would never happen again, when i already told you several times this was the wrong inference to make. the violent crime rate in the US is due mainly to how much police effort and presence there is. if it slips, the rate goes up. especially, if democrats get their way and legalize several drugs or even worse, end the 'failed' (actually fairly successful) war on drugs, you could be looking at a steady rise in crime for years.

"The NY Times seems to have 3 templates for reporting on small towns in the Midwest:"

they seem to never report on the complete emptying out of every city in new york not named new york city. they need not travel all the way to the midwest to observe actual urban decline. they only need to drive 100 or 200 miles north into their own state.

Jefferson said...

I would still rather take my chances in North Dakota's oil towns than in any city in America where Obama's sons outnumber White people.

Once you have seen urban inner city Black America in person, no town in North Dakota will scare you.

Silver said...

no it's not. a couple murders per year doubled is still...a couple murders.

Agnostic specifically referred to aggravated assault. It has skyrocketed in recent years in ND, no two ways about it. (50/100k to 180/100k in four or five years.) Agnostic quite reasonably argues that rise is most likely attributable to local whites than to outsiders, though the hypothesis that irritation caused by outsiders led to the jump is not without its merits. While Mexicans in all-Mexican cities in America have had very high rates of aggravated assault (Eg Brownsville in the late 80s, over 1000/100k), even at their worst Mexicans, even if they made up 10% of the state's population, could not account for the massive jump in ND assault rates.

the violent crime rate in the US is due mainly to how much police effort and presence there is.

So how much is there, jody? How did you determine it? Please share.

DC Handgun Info said...

Not to worry -- carry a gun, and be ready to use it. Shame that crime (even negligible crime) has come to the Dakota oil patch.

Mont. and S.Dakota are both "shall issue" states:

That means you apply for a permit to carry concealed and if you're not a prohibited person, you'll get a permit.

Open carry? "Montana is a traditional open carry state" and "South Dakota is one of our “Gold Star” open carry states. Open carry is common in many parts of South Dakota..."

That means you can strap on a gunbelt and carry the gun of your choice.