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Homicide and arson increased last year in South Carolina, crime report shows

A 2020 crime data report finds South Carolina saw a huge increase in both homicides and arson last year.

Crime statistics released by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division show the homicide rate jumped by 22% and aggravated assaults were up by 10%. There were 552 killings in 2020 compared to 452 in 2019.

SLED Chief Mark Keel said in a statement that he’s concerned about the rise in homicides, which have increased by almost 53% over the last five years.

“Even though I am pleased to see the continued decline in the rate of property crimes, I am extremely concerned by the increasing amount of violence in our state,” Keel said. “The final calculations for this report should concern every citizen in our state.”

Keel said community members, law enforcement and elected officials must work together to reduce violent crime in the state.

“Gangs, drugs and criminals' access to guns continue to play a significant role in the violence we are seeing,” Keel said.

Meanwhile, property crime dropped in South Carolina, but arson was up by roughly 22% with 745 arsons in 2020. Vehicle thefts dropped, with 15,392 in 2020 compared to 15,808 in 2019.

The SLED report was based on data compiled from sheriff’s departments and police departments across the state.

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Catherine Welch is Assistant News Director at WFAE. She has led newsrooms at KUNC in Greely, CO, Rhode Island Public Radio in Providence, RI and WHQR in Wilmington, NC.