2016 Safest Places in South Carolina

by Susan Gulliford

The 4.9 million people who call South Carolina home care about safety. The team at ValuePenguin analyzed the FBI Crime Report to determine the safest places in The Palmetto State. These 66 communities had crime scores that range from 546 to an outlier of 9,691. The average crime score for South Carolina was 2,973.

The major takeaway is that small communities dominate the safest places in The Palmetto State. Every city or town in the top five has a population of less than 10,000. It was not all bad news for large cities. Charleston, the state’s second largest city, ranked 15th overall in this study. For more information, you can review the full report here.

5 Safest Places in South Carolina

These cities had an average final crime score of 796, which was 73% lower than their typical peer in the state. With some of its lowest total violent crime rates, these five are the safest places in the state.

1. Edgefield

Edgefield’s designation as the safest city is ironic because the town offers a "Murders and Mayhem Tour." Senator Preston Brooks, who famously beat Senator Charles Sumner with a cane, was from the area, and Edgefield is also the home of Becky Cotton, "The Devil in Petticoats" who allegedly murdered her husband with an ax. In modern times, Edgefield is very safe. It had the lowest rate of property crime and the fifth-lowest rate of violent crime. Edgefield is a small town with a population of approximately 4,700 about 28 miles from Augusta, Ga.

2. Tega Cay

This city of approximately 8,600 came in at number two for the safest places. Tega Cay is about 20 miles from Charlotte, N.C. It achieved the third-lowest rate of violent crime and the second-lowest rate of property crime. Tega Cay is very affluent; the median household income was 2.5 times the median for South Carolina and the poverty level was very low too.

3. Lyman

Once known as Groce’s Stop, Lyman incorporated in 1954 and took its name from the town’s large mill. In spite of its small size (population of 3,400), this community has a police department that partners with the citizens via neighborhood watch programs to keep crime low. This approach works well; Lyman had the lowest rate of violent crime of any place in this research. This town is located in Spartanburg County, in the northern part of the state.

4. Duncan

Duncan, the fourth-ranked place in this research, is a mere three-minute drive from Lyman. The Duncan police department has 22 sworn officers including five that serve in the schools full-time. In addition to a low rate of property crime, it reported only three violent crimes in 2014. Duncan is a working-class community with a median household income lower than the median for South Carolina.

5. Saluda

Saluda is a small, independent community approximately one hour north of Augusta, Ga., and one hour west of Columbia, S.C. Despite its size (population of 3,600), it has a full-service police department. Saluda had the third-lowest rate of property crime in this study. It is another working-class community with a median household income lower than the median for South Carolina and a rate of poverty above the state’s level.

Population Breakdown

Although we adjusted for population in our crime rankings, it is still difficult to compare a small town to a large city. To account for this fact, we separated the safest cities into three categories: towns with populations between 3,000 and 6,000, midsize cities with populations between 6,000 and 13,000, and larger cities with populations greater than 13,000. Here are our findings:

Full List of Places in South Carolina

Below is the entire list of places that we included in our “Safest Places in South Carolina” study. They are listed from the safest to the least safe, according to our analysis. The calculation for the crime scores can be found in the methodology section below. Take a look at the graph and see where your hometown ranks.

RankCityCrime Score
1Edgefield 546
2Tega Cay 607
3Lyman 767
4Duncan 1,016
5Saluda 1,045
6Hanahan 1,131
7Fort Mill 1,183
8Mount Pleasant 1,214
9Mauldin 1,258
10Isle of Palms 1,259
11Walhalla 1,261
12Fountain Inn 1,524
13Seneca 1,557
14Port Royal 1,559
15Charleston 1,595
16Ridgeland 1,726
17Clemson 1,740
18Bluffton 1,784
19North Augusta 1,840
20Central 1,942
21Williston 1,956
22Williamston 1,972
23Woodruff 1,994
24Belton 2,013
25Surfside Beach 2,153
26Summerville 2,170
27Bamberg 2,193
28Simpsonville 2,282
29Travelers Rest 2,379
30Winnsboro 2,496
31Rock Hill 2,638
32Allendale 2,649
33Moncks Corner 2,704
34Gaffney 2,715
35Forest Acres 2,727
36Aiken 2,881
37Newberry 2,959
38Union 3,043
39Orangeburg 3,089
40Clinton 3,142
41York 3,244
42Cayce 3,384
43Hardeeville 3,398
44Cheraw 3,563
45Sumter 3,615
46Bennettsville 3,663
47Batesburg-Leesville 3,677
48Chester 3,682
49Greenville 3,780
50Barnwell 3,846
51Camden 3,888
52Beaufort 4,060
53North Charleston 4,201
54Columbia 4,284
55Bishopville 4,371
56Greenwood 4,420
57Spartanburg 4,719
58Florence 4,981
59Darlington 5,103
60Walterboro 5,225
61Anderson 5,244
62Hartsville 5,689
63Lake City 5,781
64Marion 5,927
65Dillon 6,105
66Myrtle Beach 9,691

Methodology

To rank these places, we collected data from the 2014 FBI crime statistics by city, which provides the most recent crime data available. Not every town participates in this report and we also excluded towns with fewer than 5,000 residents because towns with small populations are more sensitive to crime score fluctuations for fewer crimes committed. The raw data report included property crimes (burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson), and violent crimes (murder/manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault) from all law enforcement agencies that chose to partake in the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting program.

We standardized the data to reflect violent and property crimes per 100,000, to account for population. Then, we aggregated a “crime score” by weighting violent crime at 80% and property crime at 20%. Though property crime is more prevalent, we figured that violent crime is more concerning to town residents. Then we adjusted the crime score for population size, giving more slack to larger cities. Finally, we ranked the cities based on their crime scores.

Here is an alphabetical table of all cities included with their ranks, making it easier to compare different cities. See where your city lies!

RankCityPopulationViolent Crime per 100KProperty Crime per 100KCrime Score
36Aiken 30,458 361 4,981 2,881
32Allendale 3,218 963 3,698 2,649
61Anderson 27,130 969 7,951 5,244
27Bamberg 3,489 688 3,439 2,193
50Barnwell 4,676 1,176 5,774 3,846
47Batesburg-Leesville 5,435 957 6,017 3,677
52Beaufort 13,090 741 6,898 4,060
24Belton 4,276 281 4,420 2,013
46Bennettsville 8,811 1,260 4,245 3,663
55Bishopville 3,291 1,550 6,229 4,371
18Bluffton 13,755 240 3,352 1,784
51Camden 7,003 800 6,911 3,888
42Cayce 12,939 734 5,294 3,384
20Central 5,185 193 4,455 1,942
15Charleston 129,867 208 2,288 1,595
44Cheraw 5,834 720 6,582 3,563
48Chester 5,529 1,049 5,643 3,682
17Clemson 14,357 181 3,462 1,740
40Clinton 8,561 829 4,672 3,142
54Columbia 134,124 749 5,361 4,284
59Darlington 6,223 1,286 8,308 5,103
65Dillon 6,671 1,409 10,328 6,105
4Duncan 3,290 91 2,523 1,016
1Edgefield 4,707 85 1,147 546
58Florence 37,951 875 7,378 4,981
35Forest Acres 10,598 717 3,906 2,727
7Fort Mill 12,659 261 1,841 1,183
12Fountain Inn 8,073 359 2,465 1,524
34Gaffney 12,682 670 3,935 2,715
49Greenville 61,924 811 4,646 3,780
56Greenwood 23,396 996 6,134 4,420
6Hanahan 19,999 240 1,670 1,131
43Hardeeville 4,688 768 6,186 3,398
62Hartsville 7,914 935 10,854 5,689
10Isle of Palms 4,333 69 3,185 1,259
63Lake City 6,735 1,440 9,339 5,781
3Lyman 3,358 30 2,055 767
64Marion 6,774 1,343 10,097 5,927
9Mauldin 24,869 181 2,139 1,258
33Moncks Corner 9,471 602 4,392 2,704
8Mount Pleasant 76,702 181 1,761 1,214
66Myrtle Beach 29,686 1,428 15,954 9,691
37Newberry 10,247 488 5,426 2,959
19North Augusta 22,440 129 3,712 1,840
53North Charleston 105,594 731 5,438 4,201
39Orangeburg 13,878 663 4,806 3,089
14Port Royal 11,749 306 2,604 1,559
16Ridgeland 4,128 170 4,094 1,726
31Rock Hill 69,754 512 3,399 2,638
5Saluda 3,609 333 1,607 1,045
13Seneca 8,222 377 2,469 1,557
28Simpsonville 19,918 291 4,142 2,282
57Spartanburg 37,795 966 6,445 4,719
26Summerville 46,801 297 3,459 2,170
45Sumter 41,341 789 4,676 3,615
25Surfside Beach 4,189 167 5,276 2,153
2Tega Cay 8,625 46 1,357 607
29Travelers Rest 4,901 41 6,284 2,379
38Union 8,092 791 4,622 3,043
11Walhalla 4,258 399 1,879 1,261
60Walterboro 5,287 927 10,327 5,225
22Williamston 4,062 443 3,693 1,972
21Williston 3,066 718 2,740 1,956
30Winnsboro 3,395 383 5,538 2,496
23Woodruff 4,136 556 3,288 1,994
41York 8,001 950 4,512 3,244

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