The SafeWise Team is pleased to release the seventh annual Safest Cities report.
South Carolina’s 20 Safest Cities of 2021
Here are the 10 Safest Cities in South Carolina for 2021
2. Fort Mill
3. Tega Cay
4. Mount Pleasant
6. Isle of Palms
See if your city made the full list.
South Carolina is less concerned about crime and safety than the rest of the country, and its safest cities collectively boast crime rates well below national averages. But statewide, there’s more crime reported in The Palmetto State than the rest of the US.
2021 South Carolina crime rates
Violent crime in South Carolina jumped 4% this year. This rise follows a drop of 4% last year and lands South Carolina with the highest violent crime rate in the South Atlantic region.
Things look better when it comes to property crime, with a drop of 3% year over year. But with 29.4 incidents per 1,000 people, the state far exceeds the US average of 21.1.
When you look at the South Atlantic region, South Carolina comes out with the highest property crime rate, reporting nearly six more incidents per 1,000 than the next-closest states (Georgia and North Carolina).
Level of concern and experience with crime in South Carolina
In general, South Carolinians worry less about crime and safety than most of the country, but only 46% say they feel safe in their state (US 55%). The level of concern seems out of step with the state’s higher rates of personal experience with crime.
- Concern about safety fell nearly 20% year over year, even though experience with crime is higher than average.
- Experience with violent crime rose 160% year over year, and experience with gun violence rose 140%.
- Although higher than national averages, South Carolinians reported fewer run-ins with property crime this year—experiences in the past 12 months dropped 43%.
- Despite a statewide increase in violent crime and more reported crime experiences, fewer people in South Carolina think crime is on the rise: 64% versus 66% nationwide.
Crime concerns in South Carolina
We asked South Carolina residents which crimes they worry may happen to them. See if South Carolinians are concerned about the same crime issues as the rest of the country.
View the complete 2021 State of Safety report.
Violent crime in South Carolina: Fear vs. reality
People in South Carolina are less worried about violent crime than the average American, despite reports of violent crime experiences jumping 160% year over year. The Palmetto State is also one of nearly half in the country that saw a rise in the violent crime rate year over year.
- Violent crime statewide is 154% higher than it is among South Carolina’s safest cities. On a national scale, South Carolina is tied with Alabama for the sixth-highest violent crime rate.
- South Carolina’s violent crime rate rose by 4% year over year.
- Aggravated assault is the most common violent crime in South Carolina, making up 76% of all reported incidents—11% higher than the national average.
- Robberies are the second-most common, making up 13% of all violent crime—nearly half of what is reported nationally.
- 32% of South Carolina respondents use some form of personal protection (US 34%).
- 39% say their personal safety has been affected by the pandemic (US 44%).
Attitudes about police and gun violence in South Carolina
- 48% named gun violence their top safety concern (US 53%).
- 40% are most worried about a gun violence incident happening to them (US 38%), beating out concern over violent crime, property crime, and package theft.
- Reported experience with gun violence rose 140% year over year—from 5% to 12%.
- Mass shooting incidents in South Carolina more than doubled year over year, ending 2020 with 22 mass shootings compared to 10 in 2019.
- 40% of survey participants worry about police violence daily (US 40%).
- Officer-involved shootings in 2020 climbed slightly compared to 2019, rising by 3 incidents to 45 this year.
- 58% have confidence in law enforcement’s approach to crime prevention (US 56%).
Property crime in South Carolina: Fear vs. reality
South Carolinians experienced more property crime this year than most of the country. The good news is that property crime fell statewide from 30.2 incidents per 1,000 in 2019 to 29.4 this year.
- 21% of survey participants reported an experience with property crime in the past 12 months, compared to 18% nationwide.
- Property crime has been on the decline for the past three years, dropping by nearly 8% since 2019.
- Burglaries are far less common in the safest cities, making up just 10% of all property crime versus 18% statewide. Nationally, burglaries account for 16% of all property crime.
- 64% take proactive measures to protect their property (US 62%), with 34% of those relying on security cameras over other types of protection like a guard dog or firearm.
- 27% of survey respondents say the security of their property has been affected by the pandemic (US 29%).
A closer look at the Safest Cities in South Carolina
For the purposes of this report, the terms “dangerous” and “safest” refer explicitly to crime rates as calculated from FBI crime data—no other characterization of any community is implied or intended.
- 70 cities met criteria to be considered for our 2021 list.
- Half of the cities on our list moved up in the rankings this year.
- Woodruff climbed 26 spots to land on top as South Carolina’s new number one safest city.
- Duncan and Clemson each debuted on the safest cities list this year.
- Isle of Palms fell from the top spot to number six this year, due to an increase in reported property crimes. It still boasts the lowest violent crime rate with just one aggravated assault reported.
- Your odds of falling victim to violent crime in the safest cities are 2 out of 1,000, versus 5 out of 1,000 throughout the state.
- 7 cities (35%) reported fewer than 10 violent crimes: Woodruff, Tega Cay, Isle of Palms, Walhalla, Central, Duncan, and Saluda.
- The property crime rate in the safest cities is 18.9 incidents per 1,000—that’s 10 fewer incidents than the rest of the state.
- 5 cities (25%) reported fewer than 100 total property crimes: Woodruff, Isle of Palms, Walhalla, Duncan, and Saluda.
How we determined the safest cities
Learn how we identified the safest cities on our methodology page.
How to make a safe home anywhere
Didn't find your city in the top 20?
We calculated crime rates for every city in the state that met our population threshold, based on the state’s median population. See how the remaining cities ranked in the list below.
NOTE: If you don’t see your city on the list, it means that it was below the population threshold or didn’t submit a complete crime report to the FBI in 2019.
VC per 1,000
PC per 1,000
|44||North Myrtle Beach||16.94K||4.2||65.8|
Find the safest cities in each state
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Related articles on SafeWise
FBI: Uniform Crime Reporting Program, “2019 Crime in the United States,” Accessed March 15, 2021.
US Census Bureau, "Data Explorer," Accessed November 18, 2020.
Best Places, “Find a Place Search Tool,” Accessed January 6, 2021.
SafeWise, “2021 State of Safety survey,” Accessed March 15, 2021.
Gun Violence Archive, “Past Summary Ledgers,” Accessed January 6, 2021.
Gun Violence Archive, “General Methodology,” Accessed March 15, 2021.
Melody Hicks, Ben Stickle, Joshua Harms, American Journal of Criminal Justice, “Assessing the Fear of Package Theft,” January 04, 2021. Accessed March 15, 2021.
For definitions and more on data sources, see our methodology page.