South Carolina expresses a higher level of concern about safety than most other states. That could be due to higher statewide crime rates than national averages, but the safest cities in South Carolina are leading the way with fewer incidents of both violent and property crime.
Check out the complete list of South Carolina’s 20 safest cities of 2020.
52% of the South Carolina residents who participated in our 2020 State of Safety study reported feeling high or very high concern for their safety every day. That’s six percentage points higher than the national average.
Higher crime rates and more reports of personal experience with property crime could be reasons there’s more general worry in the Palmetto State.
South Carolina has the third-highest number of people who've experienced property crime in the past 12 months.
South Carolina has the third-highest number of people who’ve been affected by property crime in the past 12 months (37% compared to the national average of 26%). The state’s property crime rate is 30.2 incidents per 1,000 people, which is eight points higher than the national rate of 22.0.
When it comes to violent crime, South Carolina has one of the lowest numbers of people who say they’ve been affected by violent crime in the past year (5% versus the national average of 12%). That’s a decrease of two percentage points from last year. But the state’s violent crime rate of 4.9 is still above the national rate of 3.7 incidents per 1,000.
Violent Crime in South Carolina: Fear vs. Reality
Mass shooting is the number one violent crime concern in South Carolina, but respondents named being robbed on the street as the violent crime they think is most likely to actually happen.
48% indicated the highest concern about being the victim of a mass shooting, versus 38% nationally.
As of May 6, there have been four mass shooting incidents in South Carolina this year, leaving five dead and 14 injured. Four were injured in a March incident in Hanahan—the seventh safest city in the state this year.
Between 2014 and 2019, there were 44 mass shootings in South Carolina, resulting in 54 deaths and 167 injured. Across the US there were 2,087 mass shooting incidents during the same timeframe.
35% named being robbed on the street as the violent crime they think is the most likely to happen, compared to 27% nationwide.
Robbery was the second most common violent crime reported by the safest cities, making up 16% of all incidents reported by those cities and 14% across the state.
Property Crime in South Carolina: Fear vs. Reality
Someone breaking into a home when the residents are out is the most feared property crime in South Carolina. Residents think that having digital property stolen (like photos or files) is a more likely crime that could actually happen.
67% are most concerned about a break-in when no one’s home, compared to 62% nationwide.
Burglary made up only 13% of all property crime reported by the safest cities and 19% of all property crime in South Carolina.
46% think the most likely property crime that could occur is the theft of digital property, versus 36% nationally.
Digital security was the number one safety concern in South Carolina last year.
Larceny-theft is the most common property crime in South Carolina, accounting for 71% of the state’s property crimes and 78% of the property crimes reported by the safest cities.
37% of South Carolina respondents use a security system, versus 24% across the country.
40% use a dog or other guard animal (33% nationally), making it the most widely used security method in the state.
21% don’t use any form of protection or security on their property, compared to 29% nationwide.
A Closer Look at South Carolina’s Safest Cities of 2020
For the purposes of this report, the terms “safest” and “dangerous” refer explicitly to crime rates as calculated from FBI crime data—no other characterization of any community is implied or intended.
Isle of Palms is the safest city in South Carolina for the third consecutive year, boasting a 0.5 violent crime rate and only two total violent crimes reported in 2018.
Twelve cities (60%) moved up in rank this year, and Port Royal made the biggest leap, climbing 19 spots to be the second-safest city in the state.
Seven cities fell in rank this year (35%).
90% of the cities had violent crime rates that are lower than the national rate of 3.7 and 100% are lower than the state rate of 4.9.
Even though Charleston has more than 135,000 residents, it still came in with one of the state’s lowest violent crime rates—3.0—and its property crime rate is 20.8, beating state and national averages.
Sixteen cities (80%) beat the national property crime (22.0) rate and 85% beat the state rate (30.2).
Bluffton had the lowest property crime rate at 11.2, but a violent crime rate of 2.2 put it at number four on the list.
Edgefield had the fewest total property crime incidents reported, with 59, followed by Saluda with 62.
Five cities reported fewer than 100 total property crimes.
SafeWise uses the GVA definition of a mass shooting: “If four or more people are shot or killed in a single incident, not involving the shooter, that incident is categorized as a mass shooting based purely on that numerical threshold.”
Written by Rebecca Edwards
Rebecca is the lead safety reporter and in-house expert for SafeWise.com. She has been a journalist and blogger for over 25 years, with a focus on home and community safety for the past six. Rebecca spends dozens of hours every month testing and evaluating security products and strategies. Her safety expertise is sought after by publications, broadcast journalists, non-profit organizations, podcasts, and more. You can find her work and contributions in places like TechCrunch, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, HGTV, MSN, and an ever-growing library of radio and TV clips. Learn more