by Paul Bowers
According to new rankings released by CQ Press, Myrtle Beach is the seventh-most dangerous metropolitan area in the United States. Other South Carolina metro areas that appear high on the list include Anderson (No. 14) and Sumter (No. 22).
The rankings are based on rates of murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson per 100,000 residents. The Myrtle Beach metro area, which includes Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach, Conway, and Horry County, came in seventh behind the following metro areas: 1. Detroit, Mich.; 2. Pine Bluff, Ark.; 3. Flint, Mich.; 4. Memphis, Tenn.; 5. Stockton, Calif.; and 6. New Orleans, La.
According to FBI statistics, the Myrtle Beach metropolitan area had 24 murders or non-negligent manslaughters, 178 rapes, 410 robberies, 1,210 aggravated assaults, 3,404 burglaries, 10,687 larceny thefts, and 1,138 motor vehicle thefts in 2011.
A few caveats about the report, before you go and cancel your Spring Break plans:
• There's a lag in the data. The FBI still hasn't released full crime statistics for 2012, so the CQ Press report is based on 2011 numbers.
• The metropolitan areas of Columbia and Charleston-North Charleston-Summerville weren't included in the CQ Press report due to insufficient crime data from the FBI.
• The FBI stopped reporting the Crime Index (based on the same eight categories of crime used in the CQ report) in 2004 because criminologists said it was not an accurate indicator of crime levels. They argued that some cities' crime rates were inflated by high rates of larceny thefts. In 2011, larceny theft accounted for 60 percent of all reported crime in the United States and 63 percent of the reported crime in the Myrtle Beach area.
One piece of good news from the report: North Charleston, which was infamously ranked seventh on the list of most dangerous cities in 2006, has fallen to No. 126.