Locals and tourists alike have seen the glossy, sometimes touched up, cheerful photos of families enjoying one of America’s top family destinations — Myrtle Beach — splash across TV, print and online ads.
Usually, it’s a husband and wife, with kids in tow, splashing in water at one of the high rise’s pools.
Their smiles sell Ocean Boulevard as a getaway from every day life — free of stress and usually painted on a background of glowing blue skies. Feet dangle in a lazy river, and the area is sold with an affordable price tag and always within walking distance of the Ferris wheels, Family Kingdom, the zipline, and arguably our biggest marketing draw —the Atlantic Ocean.
But just one block over, on Yaupon Drive, is the area’s rarely talked about smudge of reality. Hookers, heroin and home invasions dote police reports that don’t make the glossy brochures that tout Ocean Boulevard as your family’s getaway in one of the nation’s top family destinations.
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The Surge examined police calls to properties all along Yaupon throughout 2015. The investigation showed some of the more unique police reports coming from the road closest to tourists and conversations with city and area officials show efforts being made to address crime throughout the city and not just on Yaupon.
As cotton candy, corn dogs and fake tattoos are being handed out along Ocean Boulevard, Myrtle Beach police are confiscating 10 grams of cocaine, 26 slips of heroin and 7.5 grams of mdma in just three transactions last year one block over on Yaupon.
Tourism accounts for 70 percent of the local economy, said Brad Dean, president and CEO of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce.
“Criminal activity in or near a tourist area like Ocean Boulevard can be problematic for our number one industry, which is one reason why the city of Myrtle Beach has stepped up its presence in that area and we fully supported that,” Dean said. “Generally, we feel local law enforcement are doing an exceptional job managing the challenges of a fast-growing community with a fast-growing tourism population. Nevertheless, we recognize that this effort requires a multifaceted effort that extends far beyond law enforcement, to businesses, citizens and community leaders.”
John Pedersen, city administrator for Myrtle Beach, said although Yaupon “has been a problem area,” he said overall, the daily reports show the crime stats getting better.
In a report sent to City Council earlier this year, that shows that Part 1 crimes, or more serious crimes, were down by more than 10 percent in 2015 over 2014. He said that decrease was actually part of a much longer historical trend.
Joey Crosby, spokesman for the Myrtle Beach Police Department, said it takes more than police work to clean up any community throughout the city.
“Officers patrol this area as part of their duties,” Crosby said. “Special directive patrols may also be given to officers. In addition to patrol officers, our Street Crimes Unit patrols this area and conducts various operations to address issues.”
In fact, a study of police reports from 2015 shows police stepped up their undercover work beginning in September with several prostitution stings and an undercover drug buy on Yaupon.
The city also worked to ensure the liquor license for Heat Ultra Lounge, 415 Yaupon, which appeared several times in police reports throughout 2015, was denied to new owners under the city’s codes. Clayton Smith purchased the business in October and planned to take over the club’s management. But the city denied his business license on Oct. 23, 2015, under the code that reads: “The license official shall deny a license to an applicant upon a determination that: … the applicant, licensee or prior licensee in control of the business has engaged in an unlawful activity or nuisance related to the business…”
The owner of the former Heat Ultra Lounge, Vladimir Handl, is facing federal charges ranging from money laundering and racketeering to conspiracy to distribute controlled substances. He was charged in 2015.
The business also falls in a downtown district locked in a 2013 moratorium that put a freeze on any business licenses to new nightclubs or large bars that could serve more than 150 patrons. The area affected by the ban is bound by Sixth Avenue South to 16th Avenue North from the Atlantic Ocean to Oak and Broadway streets. The club on Yaupon Drive lies less than 500 feet within the southern edge of the district’s boundary.
A kidnapping, several robberies and a report of a forklift being used to flip a Yukon on its side were all reported by Heat staff or those visiting the now-closed club.
Crosby said the department continues to work with community policing groups to help make the area, and all areas safer.
“We work in conjunction with the neighborhood watch programs to have an open line of communication with the community,” Crosby said.
And that effort, Dean said, does not go unnoticed.
“To effectively address and prevent crime in our community, law enforcement must take a broad-based effort that combines solid community policing, a strong community presence, ever-improving tactics, and collaboration with all stakeholders,” Dean said. “The Myrtle Beach Police Department does this daily, so we are confident in their abilities and pleased with the progress they've made. In fact, in viewing the crime trend in our area and considering the rapid growth of the permanent and tourist populations, our local law enforcement agencies are doing better than most.
“Any level of criminal activity can negatively impact our quality of life or our tourism economy, but thankfully our local law enforcement agencies have stepped up their game and local governments have been actively seeking ways to expand and enhance our community policing. While we must not ignore crime, especially in key areas that can have a widespread impact, we can take comfort in knowing we are served by exceptional law enforcement professionals and their performance stands out amongst their peers.”
The ‘Heat’ Effect
Jan. 1, 2015
Reported kidnapping at Heat, 415 Yaupon Drive.
Victim stated she was forcefully placed in a vehicle, a 2010 Honda Pilot, by her boyfriend. The victim states the incident occurred at about 1:30 a.m. Victim states she was walking out of the club with her friends when boyfriend arrived. Victim states the offender grabbed her and began pulling her to the vehicle, eventually picked her up and put her in the vehicle and drove off. Victim states a Myrtle Beach Police officer pulled them over at about 1:40 a.m., issued a traffic warning to the driver. Victim states she was afraid to say anything to the officer because the offender threatened to run if she did. Victim states the assault continued through 4 a.m.
Feb. 21, 2015
Reported strong arm robbery at Heat, 415 Yaupon Drive
A woman said her boyfriend accidentally bumped into a man and an unknown white female. She stated that the man then hit her boyfriend in the head with a glass bottle, which knocked the boyrfiend down onto the ground. She said then two more people jumped in on the assault of her boyfriend. She stated as she tried to stop the offenders from assaulting her boyfriend, one of the men pushed her back with his hand by hitting her in the face. The boyfriend reportedly lost his wallet during the scuffle. The boyfriend was transported to Grand Strand Regional Medical Center via ambulance for treatment of a large laceration on his head.
April 11, 2015
Reported robbery at Heat, 415 Yaupon Drive
Victim said he was working at the club as a parking lot attendant when three people approached him from Mitchell Drive. One suspect pulled out a silver and black in color handgun and told the victim to walk to the back of the parking lot. The suspect then demanded everything in the parking lot attendant`s pockets, and he gave the suspect the property. All three suspects then fled the scene.
While You Were Home... On Yaupon
Feb. 1, 2015
Reported residential burglary, 1300 block of Yaupon
Victim stated that between 1 a.m. and 9 a.m., someone stole her cell phone from her house. The owner of the apartment was able to obtain security footage of an unknown black male entering the apartment around 3:42 a.m. when the victim was sleeping. Victim stated that a blue iPhone 5c was missing from the apartment. The unknown black male entered the residence through the unlocked front door.
March 6, 2015
Reported larceny, 1100 block of Yaupon
Victim stated he remembers having the bottle of 100 hydrocodone tablets in his jacket pocket on the evening of March 4, because he heard them rattle when he laid his jacket on the arm of the couch by the front door. Victim stated that since the weather was so nice on March 5, he left the front door open and fell asleep on the couch. the victim said he was not in any pain and did not need his medicine that day. Victim said he woke up on March 6 and he was in pain due to the cold weather. Victim said he went to get his pain medication from his jacket pocket and it was gone. Victim believes someone may have taken it from his jacket pocket while he was sleeping with the door open.
July 23, 2015
Reported home invasion, 2300 block of Yaupon
Victim stated that at about 3:30 p.m., he was watching television and the suspect was ringing the door bell and knocking on the door. Victim said he went to his room to look out the window and saw no cars outside, but then he heard a loud boom and the door was kicked in. Victim stated he was in the master bedroom hiding and heard the suspect go upstairs. Suspect then came in the bedroom where the victim was hiding and went in the bathroom. Suspect then came out the bathroom and saw the victim and took off running out the front door.
The Paraphernalia of Yaupon
March 15, 2015
Attempting to locate man on warrant, 1200 block of Yaupon
Officer spoke with brother of man who was wanted on a warrant. The brother, who owns the home, allowed police to search his property. While searching, officers noticed multiple glass smoking pipes with what appeared to be marijuana residue on them as well as a digital scale in plain view in the kitchen area. A search warrant was thenm obtained for the residence. During the search, officers located a black metal lockbox near the scale in the kitchen. After forcing the box open, officers located 49 clear zippered baggies containing a white rock substance, with an approximate packaged weight of 10.2 grams. While searching the closet where the man with the warrant was hiding, officers located a purple plastic container that contained three wax slips containing heroin, a single folded $20 bill containing cocaine on it, and a clear plastic bag containing a green leafy substance.
May 31, 2015
Suspicious man, 1500 block of Yaupon
Officer observed a white male check under each of the road side bushes at a nearby hotel, which has a history for drug activity, according to a police report. The man was identifed as someone who has a warrant for driving under the influence. As police were searching him, 26 slips were found in the offender`s right, front, pants pocket. Each slip contained an off white in color powdery substance that field tested positive as heroin. The total weight for the slips was 8 grams.
Oct. 19, 2015
Suspicious woman, 400 block of Yaupon
A woman was pulling her vehicle, a black 2014 Chevrolet Cruz four door, into the north side parking lot of the Ole Shillelagh tavern. The woman was placed under arrest for open container of beer in a vehicle. A drug detection dog was ordered to conduct an open air sniff of the exterior of the offenders vehicle. The dog alerted to the presence of an odor being emitted from the offender`s vehicle which is consistent with illegal drugs. During the search, police located a black steel 38-caliber revolver in the rear pocket of the front passenger seat of the offender`s vehicle. The handgun was loaded with five live rounds. Police verified that the offender did not possess a valid concealed weapons permit and did not have a legal right to carry the weapon.
Dec. 27, 2015
Attempting to locate a man on warrant, 1500 block of Yaupon
Police drove to the area to locate a wanted man. Upon arrival, officers made contact with the defendants who were consuming alcohol in a vehicle in the parking lot. While speaking with one of the men, police realized he had an outstanding warrant. Police searched the vehicle the suspects were in and found marijuana, cocaine and two individually clear plastic baggies containing three oxycodone pills in each. After searching the men, officers located an additional clear plastic baggy with a rock like substance in it and a hyperdermic needle on a woman who was in the car. In addition, a red metallic Altoids container was located incident to arrest with several empty wax paper slips that field tested positive for the presence of heroin.
Who the cops are dealing with
Jan. 16, 2015
Victim stated that the suspects, two unknown prostitutes he invited in, took his cash and cell phone while he was intoxicated and sleeping. The victim tried to stop the two but was highly intoxicated. Victim stated that he was struck in the head by a hammer as he tried to retrieve items when the suspects fled the scene. At the time of the report the victim was still highly intoxicated and the two suspects were not located. The victim stated that he was not going to call the police but his intoxicated neighbor called for him.
Jan. 23, 2015
Assault, simple assault in the 400 block of Yaupon
Police reesponded to the Back Deck Bar for a disturbance call. Police met with the victim who works for Anchor Taxi. Victim stated he was called to the above location to pick up a fare. Victim stated that the offender and a white female came to the cab arguing, and the victim stated that the female was very intoxicated. Victim stated that when he came around to open the door to the cab the offender grabbed him around the neck/shoulder area for a second. The offender then left the area south on Mitchell Drive. Victim stated he was not hurt and he declined EMS. Victim also stated he wanted to press charges because he was tired of the locals getting drunk and thinking they could do what ever they wanted.
April 18, 2015
Patrol stop, 1200 block of Yaupon
Officers were patrolling in the area when they saw a man who had an active general sessions bench warrant and lives at a nearby location. Officers agreed to conduct a “knock and talk” at the incident location in an attempt to locate the offender. When they conducted the “knock and talk,” officers could see several unknown black males run out of the back door of the residence and run up the stairs of the residence. After a short while, the owner of the residence opened the door to speak with the officers. The owner called up the stairs to the offender. Officers met the offender at the top of the stairs and informed him that he was wanted. As police attempted to handcuff the offender, he pulled away, and pushed an officer down the stairs. When the officer recovered and attempted assist again, the offender struck him with closed fists. After a brief use of force with the offender, officers were able to arrest the offender. After being handcuffed and walked down the stairs, the offender attempted to kick the officer, but was unable to make contact.
April 19, 2015
Criminal damage to property at Heat, 415 Yaupon Drive
Police were dispatched to Heat in reference to a vehicle that had been turned on its side with a forklift, and held in place with the forklift. The forklift had been leased from a local company and had been kept at 701 S. Ocean Boulevard. Victim states there had been a verbal altercation at the club at about 5 a.m. with a possible suspect.
June 6, 2015
Drug arrest in the 1300 block of Yaupon
Police approached a woman who was entering and exiting a known drug house on Yaupon. Police searched the woman and reportedly found cocaine, which the woman tried to crush in her hand and by foot while she was being placed under arrest. The woman later told police she was three months pregnant.
June 27, 2015
Suspicious person in the 1200 block of Yaupon
Police approached a man whose dog was defecating and whose dog was not on a leash in a public right of way. When police asked for identification, the man took off running toward 12th Avenue South. The man ran behind a property where he attempted to climb a fence. After struggling with the offender, police apprehended the man and found 6.2 grams of heroin, and about 7.5 grams of mdma, commonly found in the drugs ecstacy and molly.
June 28, 2015
Shots fired in the 1500 block of Yaupon
Complainant said she heard what sounded like females arguing on the second floor of the incident location. The complainant stated that she heard a female say “get off of him.” Complainant then heard two gunshots come from above her apartment on the second floor. She said she she saw a black male run away from the incident location wearing a white T-shirt and he had short hair but could not provide a further description. Complainant stated that she did not see this subject with a gun and could not determine if this subject was in fact involved or not. Police checked the residence where the shots reportedly came from, which was unsecured, and the room was cleared and no signs of a disturbance were present. No victim was located from the incident. Surrounding hospitals were checked for a gun shot victim and the result was negative. No blood was found at the scene. A magazine and one bullet were found at the bottom of the staircase on the north side of the apartments.
Aug. 10, 2015
Disorderly conduct in the 1400 block of Yaupon
When police arrived on scene, the offender was laying on the side of Yaupon Drive holding his head. There was a white female and a black female with him trying to help him as they were waiting on EMS to arrive. The unidentified black female stated that she was hit by one of the victims and the offender was trying to break them up when the offender was struck in the head with a shovel. The fight started when one man said another owed him $20.
Nov. 12, 2015
Strong arm robbery in the 400 block of Yaupon
Victim stated there has been a lot of foot and vehicle traffic the last couple days around the building across from him, stating that people come and go all hours of the day. Victim decided that he was going to start taking pictures with his personal camera of people and vehicles that are on the property. He told police he was sitting in a chair on his porch when he was approached by the suspect. He said the suspect asked him what he was doing, and the victim told him that he was taking pictures. The victim said that the suspect told him “You better not be taking any pictures of me.” The victim told him “I’m going to take one of you now.” When the picture was taken, the victim said that the suspect then reached out and grabbed the camera out of his hand. Police said the victim was highly uncooperative during the investigation and was intoxicated. While filling out a statement form, the victim described himself as his height being “high,” his weight as being “fat,” his hair as being “some,” and his eyes as being “yes.” Police asked the victim if he was going to stay with the answers he provided, and he replied “that`s close enough.”
Dec. 21, 2015
Assault in the 1300 block of Yaupon
A woman stated she was checking the outside of the San Marcus Villa, like she normally does, when she heard a man in one of the rooms saying he paid a girl to beat the woman up. The woman ignored the man and kept looking around the villa when she heard a woman calling her over. The woman walked over and the suspect came up to her and started to punch and kick her. Police did not immediately locate the suspect.
Sept. 21, 2015
Prostitution in the 1300 block of Yaupon
Officer made contact with the offender after seeing a escort ad on the internet with explicit photos. Officer then called the number that was listed on the ad and spoke with the offender via phone. Offender told the officer that she was available and would be willing to meet him for $200 an hour. The offender met with the undercover officer and he escorted her to a room. The two began talking and during their conversation, the offender stated she brought condoms and would charge $200 an hour. She also stated that she was open to perform any sexual act other than anal. She was then arrested.
Oct. 19, 2015
Undercover drug buy in the 400 block of Yaupon
Officer, acting in an undercover capacity, made contact with the offender through text messaging using a phone number provided by a cooperating defendant. Officers were informed by the cooperating defendant that the offender was a young thin black male that went by the name of “Mikey” and that he sold narcotics. During the text conversation with the offender, the offender agreed to sell $180 worth of narcotics to the undercover officer. The offender was arrested for attempted distribution of crack.
Nov. 15, 2015
Prostitution in the 1200 block of Yaupon
A woman stepped out in front of an undercover officer’s car and approached the passenger side. Once on the passenger’s side, the offender got into officer’s vehicle. The woman said she could service both the undercover officer and a friend of his. The officer and offender then briefly talked about her services and she stated she would give the officer and his friend blow jobs. The officer then drove to 10th Avenue South beach access where the offender was arrested for prostitution.
Nov. 18, 2015
Prostitution in the 300 block of Yaupon
Undercover officer was driving southbound on Ocean Boulevard, and made contact with a woman who told him to meet her a short ways down. The offender got into the undercover vehicle and immediately asked if the undercover officer was a cop. After a brief conversation, the offender stated she would “go back to my place” and perform fellatio for $30. The offender was later placed under arrest for prostitution.
Source: Myrtle Beach Police Department