COLUMBIA, SC (FOX Carolina)- The State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) released their preliminary 2020 crime statistics on Thursday.

Officials say that as SLED continues to gather and verify crime information reported by local authorities in 2020, they are releasing their preliminary results.

According to officials, The rate of murder throughout the state went up around 25% in 2020. The rate of aggravated assault went up around 9% in 2020.

SLED Chief Mark Keel said in a press release, “As I said last year, I am extremely concerned by the increasing amount of violence in our state including the number of murders and assaults. I am particularly troubled at the steady increase in the number of murders taking place. We have seen murders increase 51% over the past five years in South Carolina. Gangs, drugs, and criminal’s access to guns continue to play a significant role. In fact, according to the DEA, in 2020 more than 30,000 gangs operate on the streets of America with nearly all involved not only in distributing drugs, but also in committing violent crimes. Yet given this alarming surge, it is very disheartening to see so much effort and attention being directed to anti-public safety legislation that puts criminals back on the street and makes our communities less safe.”

The difference between SLED's violent crime statistics in 2019 and 2020 can be seen in the graph below.

SLED Preliminary Violent Crime Statistics

2019 2020
Murders 457 571
Sexual Battery 2,489 2,104
Robbery 3,256 3,072
Aggravated Assault 19,469 21,272

“Efforts like sentencing reform often only serve to incentivize criminal conduct,” said Keel. “If we make the prosecution of drug crimes more difficult and we decrease the punishment for breaking the law, the public’s safety becomes more at risk. Drug crimes are inherently violent, and we should not incentivize this criminal behavior. Our law enforcement professionals everyday see the personal impact drugs are inflicting on our citizens. Our communities, families, and the addicts themselves are victims to the drugs being brought in our neighborhoods. No family who has lost a loved one such as a child, a mother, father, sister, or brother can be told there are no victims. We need legislative support and community involvement to improve public safety and keep our streets safe. Simply turning a blind eye to crime and not holding criminals accountable is not the answer.”

This preliminary data shows violent crime rates have increased 5% since 2019 and 11% since 2015, according to officials.

Despite the increase in violent crime, the preliminary statistics show that property crime decreased in 2020.

“I am pleased to see the continued decline in the rate of property crimes but am concerned at the increase of arson incidents,” Keel said. “We’re also encouraged to see the rates for robbery and sexual battery continuing to drop as well. Now is the time to work together to improve our law enforcement efforts and capabilities. Professional, accountable law enforcement makes our communities safer. We must work every day to show the public that we are worthy of the respect and trust given to us by the communities we serve. But the reality is, we cannot do it alone."

The full comparison between the 2020 and 2019 property crime numbers from SLED can be seen in the graph below.

SLED Preliminary Property Crime Statistics

2019 2020
Burglary 26,662 22,774
Larceny/Theft 106,247 101,607
Arson 571 694
Motor Vehicle Theft 14,820 14,463

Officials say that property crimes dropped approximately 6% in 2020, and it will be the sixth year that property crimes declined.

The data compiled in this SLED report comes from sheriff departments and police departments across the state.

The current data shown is from May 27, according to officials. They say the full Crime in South Carolina 2020 report is still being finalized.

Copyright 2021 FOX Carolina (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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