South Carolina added nearly 500,000 residents between the 2010 and 2020 Census reports for an increase of 11 percent. Though that represents a decline from the state’s 2010 Census growth rate and is its slowest since 1970, South Carolina had the 11th biggest increase among all states.

For those considering moving to South Carolina as well as residents of the state who are interested in exploring new communities, it’s important to understand the shape of property crime in the state.

While violent crime understandably garners more media attention, property crime is far more common for the average person. Few states have higher property crime rates than South Carolina, but digging deeper into statistics reveals reasons for optimism.

At A Glance:

    • With #1 being the best, South Carolina is ranked #48 for property crime out of 50 states + Washington, D.C.
    • You have a 2.94% chance of being a property crime victim in South Carolina in the next 12 months.
    • South Carolina’s property crime rate is 39% higher than the average crime rate in the United States.
    • Myrtle Beach has the highest property crime rate in South Carolina (112.3 incidents per 1,000 people).

 

  • In many states, the community with the highest property crime rate is one with a tiny permanent population, but that’s not exactly the case in Myrtle Beach, which has South Carolina’s highest rate. Nearly 35,000 people live in Myrtle Beach, which makes it the 12th largest city in the state. However, with more than 20 million visitors per year to this tourist community, on any given day, there’s a nearly 2:1 ratio of tourists to permanent residents.

 

Only New Mexico, Louisiana and the District of Columbia have higher property crime rates than South Carolina. The state’s rate is higher than all of its neighboring states and is more than eight points higher than the overall U.S. property crime rate.

South Carolina’s Most Current Property Crime Rates (2019)

  • Rate of Property Crime
    • South Carolina average:: 29.4 crimes per 1,000 people
    • National average: 21.1 crimes per 1,000 people

There is some good news: Since 2010, property crime in South Carolina has declined by 25 percent. This reflects a broader national trend that has seen all but two states (Alaska and North Dakota) have declines in property crime during the past decade.

South Carolina’s Overall Property Crime Trends (2010 – 2019)

    • Average Rate of Property Crime:
      • South Carolina 10-year average: 34.45 crimes per 1,000 people
      • National 10-year average: 25.61 crimes per 1,000 people
    • -25% Has property crime increased or decreased during this time?
      • There was a 25% decrease in property crime in South Carolina from 2010 as compared to 2019.
    • 2011 Which year had the highest rate of property crime in South Carolina?:
      • The highest rate of property crime in South Carolina was 2011 (39.2 crimes per 1,000 people)
    • 2019 Which year had the lowest rate of property crime in South Carolina?:
      • The lowest rate of property crime in South Carolina was 2019 (29.4 crimes per 1,000 people)

What incidents fall under the umbrella of property crime? Burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft, and arson are the four major property crime categories reported by the FBI. In every case, if the incident involves violence or threats of violence, it no longer is a property crime and is classified as a violent crime.

South Carolina’s Property Crime Category Trends (2010 – 2019)

      • Which type of property crime occurred the most in South Carolina over the past decade?
        • Larceny occurred more than any other property crime at a rate of 24 crimes per 1,000 people.
        • Average property crime rate by category
          • Average burglary rate: 7.7 crimes per 1,000 people
          • Average larceny rate: 24 crimes per 1,000 people
          • Average vehicle crime rate: 2.8 crimes per 1,000 people
          • Average arson rate: 0.1 crimes per 1,000 people
        • Note: There were no FBI estimates for arson rates, so we used all available data that was reported by individual cities in South Carolina.
      • +1% Which types of property crime have increased during this time period?
        • Vehicle theft rose slightly, climbing by about 1%.
      • -47% Which types of property crime have decreased during this time period?
        • Burglary had the biggest decline, dropping 47%.

 

Researchers have generally concluded that property crime is most heavily influenced by factors like wealth, joblessness, and urbanization. Reviewing related metrics in South Carolina would seem to add some credence to that notion.

 

Nearly 14 percent of people in South Carolina live below the poverty line, which is the 10th highest rate. Just over 12 percent of all Americans are in poverty. Similarly, South Carolina’s median household income ($56,227) is lower than the national median ($65,712).

 

On the other hand, South Carolina is considerably less urbanized than the U.S. overall. About 81 percent of Americans live in urban areas compared to just over 66 percent of South Carolinians, though the rate has climbed considerably since the 1970s, going up by 37 percent, the second-biggest increase. Additionally, South Carolina’s unemployment rate in May 2021 was about one point below the overall U.S. rate. 

 

As is the case everywhere else, property crime rates vary considerably all over South Carolina. We’ve already discussed how tourist city Myrtle Beach has the state’s highest rate, but it’s important to note the scale of the difference. Wagener has South Carolina’s lowest property crime rate (about seven incidents per 1,000 people), which is 14 times lower than the rate in Myrtle Beach.

 

Even among other cities with high property crime rates in South Carolina, Myrtle Beach stands apart. Hemingway has the second-highest rate but is still about 30 points behind Myrtle Beach.


Top 5: Best Property Crime Rates (based on 2019 data)*:

  • Wagener, South Carolina (Aiken County)
  • Society Hill, South Carolina (Darlington County)
  • Woodruff, South Carolina (Spartanburg County)
  • Burnettown, South Carolina (Aiken County)
  • Bluffton, South Carolina (Beaufort County)

Bottom 5: Worst Property Crime Rates (based on 2019 data):

  • Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (Horry County)
  • Hemingway, South Carolina (Williamsburg and Georgetown counties)
  • Hartsville, South Carolina (Darlington County)
  • Manning, South Carolina (Clarendon County)
  • Darlington, South Carolina (Darlington County)

* Excludes cities with zero property crime reported