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South Carolina murders reach 5-year high, property crimes decrease, state officials say

SLED says the latest crime stats show officers being assaulted has also gone up.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) says the overall violent crimes and property crimes in the state fell in 2018, while the number of murders is on the rise.

In 2018, SLED reports 393 murder victims, which they say is a five-year high. This compares to 375 murder victims in 2017. In a majority of murder cases, 38.4 percent, the victim knew their attacker.

“I am deeply troubled by the increasing number of murders, domestic violence incidents and the number of law enforcement officers assaulted in our state,” SLED Chief Mark Keel said in a statement.

The number of juvenile arrests and law enforcement officers assaulted also increased, by four percent and 16 percent respectively.

In 2018, 431 juveniles were arrested, compared to 413 in 2017. Overall, there has been a decrease in juvenile arrests from 1991-2018 by nearly 60 percent.

The largest jump in juveniles arrests was for arson; 32 juveniles were arrested in 2018, compared to 21 in 2017. This is a rate increase of 51.9 percent.

The second largest jump was in sexual battery cases. Eight-five juveniles were arrested on sexual battery charges compared to 63 in 2017.

From 2009-2018, SLED reports nine law enforcement officers murdered in South Carolina, three of which occurred in 2018. Two-hundred-sixty-two law enforcement officers were victims of aggravated assault, compared to 214 in 2017.

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The 'Uniform Crime Report' for 2018 saw a drop in violent crimes by two percent and a drop in property crimes by four percent, or 4,811 cases. The number of property crime arrests also decreased by five-point-six percent, or 1,175 arrests.

"I am pleased to see a steady decline in the number of property crimes and that the overall violent crime rate dropped," Chief Keel said in a statement.

Officials say it is the fifth consecutive year the number of property crimes decreased.

Credit: SLED

South Carolina's robbery rate decreased by nine percent or 306 cases compared to 2017, and nearly 60 percent, or 2,644 cases, compared to 1991. 

Richland County reported the highest number of robbery crimes with 545 cases. Edgefield and McCormick counties reported the lowest number of robbery crimes with 2 cases each.

There was an increase in the number of motor vehicle thefts, by three-point-three percent, or 679 cases. Richland County reported the highest number of cases, 2,295 and just eight-point-one resulted in charges. 

Anderson County, however, reported the highest rate of motor vehicle thefts, per 10,000 residents.

The data in the report comes from sheriff’s departments and police departments across the state. 

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You can read the full findings of the 2018 "Uniform Crime Report" on SLED's website.