South Carolina's crime rate
There were 177,712 crimes reported in South Carolina in 2019, the most recent year crime data is available. Adjusted for population, South Carolina's crime rate is 3,452 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 2,489 per 100,000 people is 28% lower. Of the 50 states, 3 have a higher crime rate than South Carolina.
Crime rates nationwide range from 1,361 per 100,000 in Maine to 3,945 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.
The vast majority of crimes in America are property crimes, accounting for 85% of total crimes in 2019. This share was roughly the same in South Carolina, with property crimes accounting for 85% of all crimes reported in the state.
There were 151,389 property crimes reported in South Carolina in 2019, or 2,940 per 100,000 residents. This is much higher than the national rate of 2,110 property crimes per 100,000 people and is the third highest rate of the 50 states.
Larceny is by far the most common type of property crime. The 5,086,096 reported incidents nationwide in 2019 accounted for 73% of all property crime. South Carolina's rate of 2,116 reported larceny incidents per 100,000 residents is higher than the nationwide rate of 1,550 per 100,000 and is the second highest among states.
An estimated 27,461 break-ins were reported in South Carolina in 2019, or 533 per 100,000 state residents -- the sixth highest rate among states. For reference, there were an estimated 1,117,696 break-ins nationwide, or 341 break-ins per 100,000 people.
Motor vehicle theft
Across the U.S., there were 721,885 reported motor vehicle thefts in 2019, a rate of 220 per 100,000 people. South Carolina's rate of 291 motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 residents was higher than this national rate and the 11th highest rate compared to all states.
Violent crimes make up a small share of crimes nationwide. In South Carolina, violent crimes account for 15% of total crimes, versus 15% nationwide.
While South Carolina has the 47th lowest total crime rate of all states, it has the 45th lowest violent crime rate. The state’s violent crime rate of 511 per 100,000 people is much higher than the national rate of 379 per 100,000. There were 26,323 violent crimes reported to South Carolina law enforcement agencies in 2019.
Aggravated assault is by far the most common type of violent crime. Nationwide, there were 821,182 aggravated assaults in 2019, accounting for 66% of violent crimes across the country. In South Carolina, 20,105 aggravated assaults were reported in 2019. South Carolina's rate of aggravated assault of 390 per 100,000 people is much higher than the national rate of 250 per 100,000 and is the sixth highest of all states.
Robbery is the second most common type of violent crime in America. There were 3,294 robberies reported in South Carolina in 2019, or 64 robberies for every 100,000 residents. This is lower than the national rate of 82 robberies per 100,000 people, and the 24th highest robbery rate among states.
There were 2,460 reported rapes in 2019 in South Carolina. The state's rate of rape of 47.8 per 100,000 residents is higher than the national rate of 42.6 per 100,000 people. South Carolina has the 21st highest rate of rape.
In 2019, there were 464 murders reported to law enforcement in South Carolina. The state’s murder rate of 9.0 per 100,000 residents is much higher than the national rate of 5.0 per 100,000. South Carolina's murder rate is the fifth 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 12,424 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 Lake City. This city has the highest violent crime rate in South Carolina, at 1,712 per 100,000 residents, more than triple the statewide rate.
Crime over time
National historical trend
The FBI provides access to crime data by state dating back to 1960. This 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 2,489 per 100,000, a 58% decline in 28 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 2014-2019
Over the five years since 2014, the nationwide total crime rate has decreased by 15.2%, but this change varied dramatically between states. In New Hampshire, for example, the crime rate decreased by 37.0%, the largest decline of any state. The largest increase was in Alaska, where crime rose by 11.3% between 2014 and 2019.
With a decrease of 13.3%, South Carolina's crime rate has fallen slower than the country as a whole. The crime rate declined in 48 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 60 years, the state has been among the 10 states with the highest crime rates in 24 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 2019 FBI crime report and population of 5,000 or more. Click any bar or city name to see more about crime in that city.