Theft is increasing in Myrtle Beach, but police say that’s because you won’t lock your car

Residents and tourists visiting Myrtle Beach are being urged to lock their cars and secure their items after Myrtle Beach police reported an increase in larceny offenses over last year.

Myrtle Beach police presented its mid-year crime report to Myrtle Beach City Council on Tuesday, showing data collected from Jan. 1 to June 30 that revealed an 11 percent hike in larceny offenses compared to 2018.

Police reported 1,463 larcenies in 2018 and 1,617 during the first half of 2019, with the number of shoplifting cases increasing from 551 to 665, or 21 percent. Motor vehicle thefts increased from 322 to 366, or 14 percent.

Officials said 46 percent of break-ins happened in a parking lot or parking garage of a hotel or motel, and 85 percent of those saw no forced entry.

Myrtle Beach Deputy Chief Marty Brown attributed the increase in thefts to the opioid epidemic, suggesting addicts will commit this type of crime to support their habit. Thefts are at a higher rate where more people populate, he said.

“National studies show that addicts will likely cause the break-ins,” Brown added. “This is a nationwide issue.”

While mass shootings and gun violence are flooding the news cycle, police reported a downward drift in violent crimes in 2019. Police reported violent crimes, including homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assault, saw a decrease of 224 to 192, or 14 percent, from 2018 to 2019.

“The 14 percent decrease for the first half of the year in violent crimes is huge,” Mayor Brenda Bethune said. “Last year we also had (a) double-digit decrease, so this is incremental to last year’s double-digit decrease. I think that is huge.”

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Anna Young is the Coastal Cities reporter for The Sun News covering anything and everything that happens locally. Young, an award-winning journalist who got her start reporting local news in New York, is dedicated to upholding the values of journalism by listening, learning, seeking out the truth and reporting it accurately. She earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from SUNY Purchase College.