From the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains to the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, South Carolina’s safest cities are found in every region of the state. Some are small, quaint communities like Inman and others, like Mount Pleasant, are much larger.
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Regardless of location or size, many of the safest cities on our list share one characteristic: their leaders, citizens, and law enforcement officers work collaboratively to keep crime at bay. This could be why the violent crime rate among these cities is 20 percent lower than the national average and we’re recognizing nearly 85 percent of them for the second year in a row.
How We Chose the Safest Cities in South Carolina
To determine the 30 safest cities in South Carolina, we looked at the most recent FBI Crime Report. We first narrowed the list down to those cities that reported complete crime data to the FBI and had a population of more than 2,000 people in 2013. Then we compared the number of reported violent crimes (murder, robbery, rape, and aggravated assault) and property crimes (burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson) in each city. Finally, to level the playing field, we determined the chance of these crimes happening out of 1,000 people.
Once you’ve reviewed our list the Palmetto State’s safest cities, you’ll want to take a look at our comprehensive South Carolina Safety Directory. It offers resources for keeping your family safe no matter where you live in the state.
Edgefield is a thriving artisan community located in the western part of the state, and its citizens have a lot to boast about. Not only is their city the safest in South Carolina, the violent and property crime rates in Edgefield went down almost 35 percent since our list last. On top of these accomplishments, Edgefield reported no incidents of murder, rape, or robbery to the FBI in 2013.
Violent Crimes per 1,000: 2.36
Property Crimes per 1,000: 10.06
We congratulate Wellford’s community members for their commitment to fighting crime. Not only did the city move from ninth place on last year’s safest cities list to second place this year, incidents of property crime decreased from 55 to 30 over the time period. As if this isn’t impressive enough, there were no murders, rapes, or robberies reported either year.
Violent Crimes per 1,000: 1.24
Property Crimes per 1,000: 12.36
3. Tega Cay
The law enforcement officers of the Tega Cay Police Department are using an innovative program named “Cop Cards” to develop positive relationships with local youth. Every Tega Cay police officer has their own trading card, featuring their picture and interesting information about them. When students approach an officer and ask for their card, the officer gets the chance to start building rapport with the youth of their town. At less than one incident per 1,000 people, Tega Cay boasts the lowest violent crime rate of any city on our list. Programs like Cop Cards could further reduce crime in Tega Cay.
Violent Crimes per 1,000: .25
Property Crimes per 1,000: 15.70
Well-maintained cities foster a sense of order and lawfulness, which can help deter crime. We applaud the Burnettown Police Department for offering citizens the chance to submit an online request to have issues like graffiti or vandalism taken care of. Requests are forwarded the Chief of Police who ensures issues are resolved. Proactive efforts like this could be one reason Burnettown reported the fewest burglaries of any city on our list.
Violent Crimes per 1,000: 3.66
Property Crimes per 1,000: 12.44
Mauldin earns recognition as the state’s fifth safest city and, according to “NerdWallet,” it’s the 10th best when it comes to starting a business. The city’s pro-business environment helps unemployment rates stay low, and that may be why the crime rate in Mauldin is roughly half the national average. Given approximately 25,000 people live in Mauldin, this figure is especially remarkable.
Violent Crimes per 1,000: 1.66
Property Crimes per 1,000: 17.01
6. Fort Mill
Fort Mill is showered with press. It’s praised as one of the best Charlotte, N.C. suburbs for young professionals and recognized as a great place to raise kids. Plus, Fort Mill is South Carolina’s fourth most improved city for safety. That’s quite an accomplishment considering the city’s population grew significantly over the last decade.
Violent Crimes per 1,000: 1.99
Property Crimes per 1,000: 17.52
7. Mount Pleasant
The violent crime rate in Mount Pleasant is 57 percent lower than in most cities across America. And since we published our safe cities list last, reported incidents of aggravated assault dropped nearly 40 percent here. These are commendable achievements for any community, but the fact that Mount Pleasant is the fourth most populated city in the Palmetto State makes them even more impressive.
Violent Crimes per 1,000: 1.60
Property Crimes per 1,000: 19.51
8. Fountain Inn
Members of the Fountain Inn Police Department take a hands-on approach to policing, which is a key factor in keeping crime rates low. For example, they sponsor a free summer camp for at-risk kids and support a Senior Watch Program. Through the senior program, police officers visit seniors to check on their wellbeing, keep them informed about potential crime scams, and even deliver meals during inclement weather.
Violent Crimes per 1,000: 5.14
Property Crimes per 1,000: 18.18
A lot of exciting things are happening in the ninth safest city in South Carolina. For starters, Hanahan is appearing on our list of the safest cities in South Carolina for the very first time, which is something the city’s new police chief is bound to feel good about. Plus, Movoto ranked Hanahan as one of the in the “Best Places to Live Near Charleston” based on its quality schools, short average commute times, and access to recreation. On top of all this, Hanahan citizens reported a nominal 32 violent crimes to law enforcement in 2013, making the rate of violent crime in Hanahan less than half the national average.
Violent Crimes per 1,000: 1.64
Property Crimes per 1,000: 22.62
Duncan is a closely-knit Upstate community where citizens look out for one another and take pride in their hometown. This sends a signal to criminals that their activity won’t be tolerated, which could be why Duncan’s violent crime rate is 70 percent lower than the national average. To help ensure Duncan remains a safe place to live, work, and play, School Resource Officers spend time with the city’s youth, listening to and addressing their concerns.
Violent Crimes per 1,000: 1.23
Property Crimes per 1,000: 25.21
11. Goose Creek
Located just outside of Charleston, along the Cooper River, Goose Creek is a growing city where crime is taken seriously. According to the Goose Creek Police Department’s annual report, officers cleared 92 percent of crimes reported in 2014 and the city’s crime rate is 1/3 the national average. With these great things going for it, it’s no wonder Goose Creek ranked as one of the “Best Towns in South Carolina for Young Families.”
Violent Crimes per 1,000: 2.16
Property Crimes per 1,000: 24.40
12. Port Royal
The historic town of Port Royal is located in Beaufort County. According to County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, Beaufort ranks first out of South Carolina’s 46 counties for quality of life. It’s also recognized as the healthiest county in the state. On top of these desirable characteristics, Port Royal offers saltwater views, an abundance of festivals, and a violent crime rate that’s 67 percent lower than the average American community. Considering everything Port Royal has to offer, we aren’t surprised the town’s population increased almost 200 percent in the last 15 years.
Violent Crimes per 1,000: 1.22
Property Crimes per 1,000: 25.69
Charleston is noted for its antebellum homes, cobblestone streets, and vast historic district. Many people don’t realize it’s also one of the safest cities in the Palmetto State. In fact, the rate of violent crime in Charleston is half the national average, which is remarkable for a city of roughly 130,000 people. We salute Charleston for their safety record and commend the leaders and law enforcement officers of the Charleston Police Department for earning CALEA “Accreditation with Excellence.” This designation recognizes the department for improving public safety and enhancing service delivery.
Violent Crimes per 1,000: 1.82
Property Crimes per 1,000: 25.09
Landrum offers residents stunning views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, quaint streets, and a positive business climate. In addition to all this, the Landrum Police Department leverages technology to help ensure locals stay safe. The department’s “Are You OK?” telephone system calls people with special needs at a pre-arranged time each day to make sure they’re alright. Community programs like these can help facilitate communication between law enforcement officers and the citizens they serve, which goes a long way toward keeping the Landrum streets safe. This may be one reason the city’s violent crime rate is 1/3 the national average.
Violent Crimes per 1,000: 2.47
Property Crimes per 1,000: 26.30
Residents of Cowpens comes together seasonally to clean up their historic community. Events like this help keep the community in good condition and encourage residents to get to know one another. These are both things that help deter crime, which may be why Cowpens reported a nominal 12 burglaries to the FBI in 2013.
Violent Crimes per 1,000: 2.26
Property Crimes per 1,000: 27.16
Woodruff is a family-oriented community located in the Upstate region of South Carolina. The picturesque mill village offers small-town charm and the convenience of being located near two much larger cities, Spartanburg and Greenville. Woodruff’s growing network of multi-use trails and budding downtown are likely to add to the city’s already strong family appeal, as will the fact that the community is making its first appearance on our list this year.
Violent Crimes per 1,000: 6.07
Property Crimes per 1,000: 23.53
We applaud the leaders, citizens, and law enforcement officers of Walhalla for their crime fighting efforts. Since previously appearing on our list, Walhalla’s property crime rate decreased by 20 percent and incidents of larceny theft dropped 30 percent. These are some of the most significant reductions in crime of any city on our list.
Violent Crimes per 1,000: 5.42
Property Crimes per 1,000: 24.28
The safe city of Saluda is known as “The Gateway to the Blueridge Mountains,” so there’s no shortage of recreational opportunities. It’s also a Main Street Community, which means citizens go to great lengths to promote and support businesses in its historic downtown district. As if these weren’t enough reasons for Saluda locals to brag about their hometown, the city’s incidents of violent crime dropped 54 percent since it last appeared on our list. This helped it move up from the 36th to 18th safest city in the state.
Violent Crimes per 1,000: 6.17
Property Crimes per 1,000: 24.12
When leaders, law enforcement, and citizens work hand in hand, everyone tends to benefit from low crime. Such is the case in McCormick. Considering the town’s tagline is “Working Together Works,” we’re not surprised McCormick residents reported a mere nine violent crimes in 2013, which is 44 percent fewer than the city reported the previous year.
Violent Crimes per 1,000: 3.31
Property Crimes per 1,000: 28.68
Oyster ranked Bluffton as the best non-beach summer getaway in the nation. Although its population swells when school lets out, Bluffton law enforcement officers don’t seem to have any trouble maintaining a high level of service. In fact, according to a citizen satisfaction survey, 43 percent of respondents deemed the Bluffton Police Department “exceeds or substantially exceeds” their expectations.
Violent Crimes per 1,000: 3.76
Property Crimes per 1,000: 29.05
NerdWallet ranked Greer as the fourth best place to start a business in South Carolina due to its superior business climate and economic health. Greer is home to the only BMW automotive manufacturing plant in the U.S., which is undergoing a $1 billion dollar expansion that will add 800 jobs, bringing employment at the plant to roughly 8,800. With new jobs comes an increased population, but that doesn’t keep Greer from keeping crime at bay. In fact, there were only 19 robberies reported in 2013.
Violent Crimes per 1,000: 4.64
Property Crimes per 1,000: 28.49
22. Isle of Palms
Isle of Palms is a seven mile barrier island located along the Atlantic Ocean. Its home to roughly 5,000 fulltime residents but the city’s population can grow to nearly 50,000 during the summer, as vacationers flock to its beaches. This influx of people doesn’t seem to have a negative impact on crime or the natural environment. In fact, Isle of Palms’ beaches were the first in the state to earn Blue Wave Designation from the Clean Beaches Council. Isle of Palms reported no murders, rapes, or robberies to the FBI in 2013, and it moved up 10 places from last year’s list.
Violent Crimes per 1,000: .47
Property Crimes per 1,000: 32.69
Image: DDima; Public Domain
Thanks to hard-working police officers and a concerned citizenry, Inman is one of South Carolina’s safest places to call home. According to the FBI Crime Report, the city reported no murders, no arsons, and a mere 18 burglaries in 2013. Inman’s Police Chief recently established Community Crime Watch program that may help cut down on crime even more over the coming years.
Violent Crimes per 1,000: 4.18
Property Crimes per 1,000: 29.26
Irmo is situated near the shores of Lake Murray and just 10 miles from Columbia, the state capital. Its location makes it popular with people who crave outdoor recreation but don’t want to sacrifice big city amenities. The fact that it’s now one of the safest cities in the state only adds to Irmo’s allure. Keeping the citizens safe here is a strong police force, which offers a crime prevention hotline for residents, as well as a page of security tips.
Violent Crimes per 1,000: 4.56
Property Crimes per 1,000: 29.27
The Gaffney Police Department embraces community policing activities and encourages citizens to suggest how law enforcement can serve their neighborhood best. This progressive approach to policing helps unite Gaffney’s police officers and residents, which can be deterrent to criminals. Gaffney’s incidents of violent crimes and property crimes decreased by 15 percent, which resulted in it moving up 10 positions on our safest cities list.
Violent Crimes per 1,000: 5.21
Property Crimes per 1,000: 29.74
Central is a charming small town that increases in population when students who attend Southern Wesleyan University, Clemson University, and Tri-County Technical College head back to campus. Whether schools in or out, crime isn’t a problem in Central. In fact, Central officials reported just seven violent crimes to the FBI in 2013.
Violent Crimes per 1,000: 1.36
Property Crimes per 1,000: 34.74
Summerville is just minutes from Charleston, and located in one of nation’s fastest growing regions. Since 2000, the city’s population increased from roughly 29,000 to 47,000, making it the second most populated city on our list. Rapid growth like this often results in high incidents of crime, but that’s not the case in Summerville. According to the FBI Crime Report, the city’s violent crime rate is nearly 40 percent lower than the typical American community.
Violent Crimes per 1,000: 2.30
Property Crimes per 1,000: 34.13
In addition to offering valuable safety tips, a most wanted list, and Twitter feed, the Clemson Police Department’s website links to helpful sites like CrimeReports. Clemson’s modern approach to crime fighting could be one reason that over the course of the year, the city’s instances of aggravated assaults fell from 34 to nine.
Violent Crimes per 1,000: 1.49
Property Crimes per 1,000: 34.95
Lexington’s Neighborhood Enhancement Action Team (NEAT) is one of the more unique and progressive initiatives we’ve come by. NEAT explores solutions to community issues, like safety and security, and strives to unite neighborhood associations through a Council of Neighborhoods. With forward thinking initiatives like NEAT, we aren’t surprised Lexington’s already enviable violent crime rate went down 22 percent from last year, and its rate of property crime also decreased.
Violent Crimes per 1,000: 2.30
Property Crimes per 1,000: 35.66
McColl offers new homes, low teacher to student ratios, and a cost of living that’s more affordable than the national average. It’s no wonder the community’s population increased by nearly 20 percent since 2000. Fast growth like this can lead to an increase in crime, but that’s not the case in McColl. In fact, the city reported no murders, rapes, or arsons in 2013, and that helped it make our list for the first time.
Violent Crimes per 1,000: 9.11
Property Crimes per 1,000: 29.24
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