New FBI Crime Numbers are now officially in for Myrtle Beach. The raw data shows that within the city of Myrtle Beach, S.C., the number of violent crimes increased from 484 in 2015 to 538 in 2016 (the current year for FBI latest statistics) – an increase of 11.1 percent.
The high profile shootings are now occurring on a weekly basis. Myrtle Beach Police Chief Amy Prock informed Myrtle Beach City Council this past week, “I have called in agents of the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) to review the numbers with me to ensure that the FBI numbers are accurate.”
SHARK BITES, BEACH BACTERIA, AND SHOOTINGS – Bad For Family Tourism
Before 2014, Myrtle Beach residents could largely expect no front page news of a shark bite, a shooting or a beach bacteria spike. Local TV might cover it, but it would likely be buried. As Brad Dean, Myrtle Beach Area Chamber C.E.O. might say, “Such news is bad for tourism.”
The weekly high profile crime in Myrtle Beach, however, has made this a topic that local media can no longer ignore. While incumbents Randal Wallace, Mike Lowder, and Mayor John Rhodes point to the large influx of summer tourists as contributing, FBI numbers also show that the city of North Myrtle Beach is not having these violent crime issues.
IMPACT ON TOURISM?
Summer 2017 was the first year that Myrtle Beach merchants felt the sting of being down 30% to 40% on some holiday weekends. Local TV Station WPDE reported just such in August.
Merchants are now beginning to question what they can expect in tourism numbers in 2018. Was 2017 an anomaly? Was 2017 the beginning of a new normal?
The crime numbers have only increased.
IMPACT ON NOVEMBER ELECTIONS
If current downtown merchant support is any indication then high crime, barricades, eminent domain, a tax payer funded library, beach bacteria pollution, beach access parking, a tourism tax, and high debt are unlikely to affect the campaign of 16 year incumbent Myrtle Beach City Councilman Randal Wallace.
Several prominent downtown merchants have publicly stated they support him. His yard signs can be spotted at multiple downtown beach wear stores.