Violent crimes in Myrtle Beach increased slightly in 2012 compared to the previous year, which Chief Warren Gall said means more criminals were on the street.
Myrtle Beach police annually release a crime index that shows the number of violent crimes such as murders, rapes, robberies and assaults, and property crimes including burglaries, arsons and other thefts.
“Residents should be concerned about crime in general, and find ways to assist law enforcement in our efforts to reduce victimization, but not place too much emphasis on the statistics,” Gall said. “These are reported crimes, and do not always accurately reflect crime trends or incidents of criminal activity. Some crimes go unreported, some crimes are falsely reported.”
In the statistics released Wednesday, Myrtle Beach officials noted that murders in the city increased from four in 2011 to five in 2012; rapes went from 35 to 42; robberies 163 to 195; burglaries increased from 600 to 661; and arson cases increased from two in 2011 to 13 in 2012.
Crimes that decreased included aggravated assaults, which decreased by nine, larcenies which fell from 3,248 in 2011 to 2,790 in 2012; and motor vehicle thefts which dropped by 10.
Myrtle Beach Police Department is one of the few in the area that releases its annual crime index.
Horry County police Sgt. Robert Kegler said his department responded to about 126,000 calls for service last year, roughly the same as the previous year.
Myrtle Beach Capt. David Knipes said city officers responded to 105,673 calls for service last year.
But Horry County and Myrtle Beach officers serve different geographic areas.
Myrtle Beach officers patrol about 23 square miles and protect an estimated 28,000 residents, while Horry County officers patrol 1,133 square miles and protect 276, 340 residents, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Overall violent crimes, according to the annual statistics, increased by 31 incidents, while property crimes decreased by 396 incidents.
“By reducing opportunities for criminals to commit crimes, the community will be safer, will feel safer, and be more productive and happier,” Gall said. “Punishing the criminals after they have victimized members of the public does little to offer safety and security, and law enforcement is not in the punishment business. So we must concentrate our efforts on prevention, and remove opportunities for the increasing number of criminals amongst us.”
The number of robberies reported in 2012 was the same as 1995, but none of the figures reached the city’s all-time high for incidents in 2006.
According to the statistics, in 2006 the city recorded eight murders, 67 rapes and 203 robberies, which were the highest since 1995. Aggravated assaults were the highest in 1995 with 349 reported, while the most burglaries were reported in 1998 with 1,080 incidents.
Others include: 4,052 larcenies and 547 motor vehicle thefts in 2004 and 16 arsons were reported in 2005 and 1998.
No data was available for the years 2000 and 2001 for violent crimes and property crimes.
Other departments could not be immediately reached Thursday for their crime statistics.