Crime in South Carolina

South Carolina's crime rate

There were 178,246 crimes reported in South Carolina in 2018, the most recent year crime data is available. Adjusted for population, South Carolina's crime rate is 3,506 crimes per 100,000 residents.

How does South Carolina compare?

Crime is more common in South Carolina than it is on average nationwide. By comparison, the national crime rate of 2,580 per 100,000 people is 26% lower. Of the 50 states, 3 have a higher crime rate than South Carolina.

Crime rates nationwide range from 1,422 per 100,000 in New Hampshire to 4,276 per 100,000 in New Mexico, the states with the lowest and highest crime rates, respectively.

Here are the crime rates for all 50 states.

What types of crimes are being committed?

The FBI's crime rate includes seven crime categories: three property crimes -- larceny, burglary, and motor vehicle theft, and four violent crimes -- aggravated assault, robbery, rape, and murder.

Property crime

The vast majority of crimes in America are property crimes, accounting for 85% of total crimes in 2018. This share was roughly the same in South Carolina, with property crimes accounting for 86% of all crimes reported in the state.

There were 153,421 property crimes reported in South Carolina in 2018, or 3,018 per 100,000 residents. This is much higher than the national rate of 2,200 property crimes per 100,000 people and is the fourth highest rate of the 50 states.

Larceny

Larceny is by far the most common type of property crime. The 5,217,055 reported incidents nationwide in 2018 accounted for 72% of all property crime. South Carolina's rate of 2,156 reported larceny incidents per 100,000 residents is higher than the nationwide rate of 1,595 per 100,000 and is the fourth highest among states.

Burglary

An estimated 29,473 break-ins were reported in South Carolina in 2018, or 580 per 100,000 state residents -- the ninth highest rate among states. For reference, there were an estimated 1,230,149 break-ins nationwide, or 376 break-ins per 100,000 people.

Motor vehicle theft

Across the U.S., there were 748,841 reported motor vehicle thefts in 2018, a rate of 229 per 100,000 people. South Carolina's rate of 282 motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 residents was higher than this national rate and the 12th highest rate compared to all states.

Violent crime

Violent crimes make up a small share of crimes nationwide. In South Carolina, violent crimes account for 14% of total crimes, versus 15% nationwide.

While South Carolina has the 47th lowest total crime rate of all states, it has the 42nd lowest violent crime rate. The state’s violent crime rate of 488 per 100,000 people is much higher than the national rate of 381 per 100,000. There were 24,825 violent crimes reported to South Carolina law enforcement agencies in 2018.

Aggravated assault

Aggravated assault is by far the most common type of violent crime. Nationwide, there were 807,410 aggravated assaults in 2018, accounting for 65% of violent crimes across the country. In South Carolina, 18,446 aggravated assaults were reported in 2018. South Carolina's rate of aggravated assault of 363 per 100,000 people is much higher than the national rate of 247 per 100,000 and is the seventh highest of all states.

Robbery

Robbery is the second most common type of violent crime in America. There were 3,553 robberies reported in South Carolina in 2018, or 70 robberies for every 100,000 residents. This is lower than the national rate of 86 robberies per 100,000 people, and the 24th highest robbery rate among states.

Rape

There were 2,434 reported rapes in 2018 in South Carolina. The state's rate of rape of 47.9 per 100,000 residents is higher than the national rate of 42.6 per 100,000 people. South Carolina has the 16th highest rate of rape.

Murder

In 2018, there were 392 murders reported to law enforcement in South Carolina. The state’s murder rate of 7.7 per 100,000 residents is much higher than the national rate of 5.0 per 100,000. South Carolina's murder rate is the sixth highest in the country.

Where are these crimes being committed?

Because crime is influenced by local circumstances, crime levels vary considerably within each state. Often a state’s dense urban areas will have higher crime rates than its rural areas. Even in a state with an exceptionally low crime rate, there is often at least one area where crime rates exceed the nation.

City with the highest crime rate in South Carolina

The city with the highest total crime rate in South Carolina is Myrtle Beach, with a crime rate of 11,951 per 100,000 residents. This excludes cities with a population below 5,000 and cities with incomplete FBI crime reports.

While the city may have the highest total crime rate in the state, the rate is driven by property crime. Therefore, Myrtle Beach is likely less dangerous than other cities in the state where more violent crimes are committed.

The most dangerous city in the state is Batesburg-Leesville. This city has the highest violent crime rate in South Carolina, at 1,710 per 100,000 residents, three and a half times the statewide rate.

Crime over time

National historical trend

The FBI provides access to crime data by state dating back to 1960. This nearly 60-year span, can be divided into three periods. Crime skyrocketed between 1960 and 1980, with the crime rate more than tripling in just 20 years from 1,887 crimes per 100,000 Americans to 5,950 crimes per 100,000 Americans.

Crime remained high in the 1980s and reached its second highest peak in 1991. Since that year, crime has fallen steadily nationwide, reaching its current rate of 2,580 per 100,000, a 56% decline in 27 years.

South Carolina's historical trend

In 1960, South Carolina's crime rate was 1,500 crimes per 100,000 residents. Crime peaked in the state in 1996 at 6,214 per 100,000, an increase of 314%.

Crime changes 2013-2018

Over the five years since 2013, the nationwide total crime rate has decreased by 16.8%, but this change varied dramatically between states. In New Hampshire, for example, the crime rate decreased by 43.6%, the largest decline of any state. The largest increase was in Alaska, where crime rose by 19.0% between 2013 and 2018.

With a decrease of 15.3%, South Carolina's crime rate has fallen slower than the country as a whole. The crime rate declined in 47 states over this time period, and in most of them, it declined faster than in South Carolina.

How South Carolina has compared to other states historically

Since 1960, South Carolina has typically had a higher crime rate than the majority of states. Over these 59 years, the state has been among the 10 states with the highest crime rates in 23 of them, but never among the states with the lowest crime rates. Notably, South Carolina has been the state with the highest crime rate in the country in six years since 1960.

All cities in South Carolina

Here are all South Carolina cities ranked by total crime rate. For a city to be included, it must have a complete 2018 FBI crime report and population of 5,000 or more. Click any bar or city name to see more about crime in that city.

Click here to see a list of all city crime pages.

Click here to see a list of all state crime pages.