MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) – Last year saw “an alarming increase” in violent crime, according to an announcement Monday.

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division’s 2020 Crime in South Carolina Annual Report shows that the rate of violent crime increased by 6% since 2019.

In the Pee Dee and Myrtle Beach areas, however, some police jurisdictions saw numbers that were even higher.

“The final calculations for this report should concern every citizen in our state,” SLED Chief Mark Keel said in the announcement. 

The murder rate statewide has increased by 52.9% over the last five years. 

The data also shows more positive news, with property crimes down by 5.9%, continuing a downward trend for the ninth consecutive year. Arsons, however, went up by 22.7% following two years of declines.

Here are five takeaways from the report:

Small Pee Dee towns see big jumps

Hartsville, which reported no murders in 2019, had four in 2020, according to the data. That trend continues into this year, with several Pee Dee communities experiencing what has been, at times, nonstop shootings. However, Hartsville’s number of breaking and entering, robbery, and motor vehicle theft reports did decrease in 2020.

Dillon County went from seven to 23 murders within its jurisdiction, while the City of Dillon went from one to four. Latta had three murders, compared to none the previous year. 

Florence County saw 200 more aggravated assaults, 300 fewer breaking and entering reports and about 40 fewer reports of sexual battery.

The City of Florence saw more than 100 additional aggravated assaults.

Marion went from one to four murders, and had more than 30 additional aggravated assaults. 

Growing Horry County communities seeing increases

Horry County went from 15 murders in 2019 to 33 last year, according to the data. Aggravated assaults also increased, moving from 1,108 to 1,414 reported incidents. There were about 2,000 fewer larceny reports. 

Myrtle Beach, which also saw 800 fewer larceny reports, saw a jump from three to six murders. 

More drugs

The SLED report blames gangs, drugs and criminals’ access to guns for an increase in violence. The data reflects an increase in drug crimes on a larger scale.

The rate of drug law violations has increased by 55.2% since 1991. However, last year saw a decrease of about 11.6% for violations.

Alcohol crimes see fluctuations

The rate of people arrested for driving under the influence increased by 20.4% from 2019 to 2020, according to the data, reversing a downward trend over the last two decades. Since 1991, the rate of DUIs decreased by 63%.

Liquor law violations have decreased by 79.2% since 1991. The rate of drunkenness arrests was down by 86.5% in the last 10 years, and 32.5% from 2019 to 2020. 

More violence

Statewide, the murder rate was up by 22.1%, and the rate of aggravated assaults increased by 10.1% from 2019 to 2020. The weapons violations rates also increased by 15.5%, and has gone up by 62.5% since 2011. 

Last year, the state recorded 552 murders, 2,429 sexual batteries and 21,909 aggravated assaults. 

Use the database below to search for 2020 crime data for Darlington, Dillon, Florence, Horry, Marion and Marlboro counties.