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Safest cities in South Carolina? York County has one near the top.

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One York County municipality is among the safest cities to live in South Carolina, according to a recently released listing. Other York County cities, as well as Chester, also made the list.

Online safety and security group SafeWise released its latest version of the 20 Safest Cities in South Carolina. The annual report compares the most recent Federal Bureau of Investigation and population data to determine which municipalities are least likely to have violent and property crimes per capita.

Tega Cay is No. 2 for the second straight year. Tega Cay’s population is more than 10,000. Tega Cay scored a violent crime rate of .48 and a property crime rate of 21.12. The numbers mean less than half a person out of every 1,000 residents fell victim to a violent crime and 21 suffered a property crime.

“Seeing Tega Cay listed as one of the safest cities never gets old,” said city manager Charlie Funderburk. “That is the expectation that we have for our community every day.”

Tega Cay scored the highest median income of any in the top 20, several times higher than others at $121,623. The only municipality to score better than Tega Cay was Isle of Palms, which didn’t report any violent crimes for the second straight year.

Tega Cay has been honored with similar rankings. A National Council for Home Safety and Security listing in 2017 listed Tega Cay at the top, followed by Fort Mill at No. 2, based on similar data. Funderburk said Tega Cay’s continued placement at the top of such lists is a result of work by police Chief Steve Parker and city officers.

“They are vigilant day in and day out,” Funderburk said. “While Tega Cay is much larger than it used to be, we take pride in our small-town charms. Neighbors watch out for one another and when they see something that may appear to be out of place, they reach out to our officers and let them know.”

Funderburk said communication among neighbors and outstanding fire service are major parts of community safety even if they don’t show up in the crime-based listing.

“I think it’s important that all of our public safety folks with Tega Cay Police Department and Tega Cay Fire Department are praised for the efforts they put forth on a daily basis for our city,” he said.

The next highest local municipality is Fort Mill at No. 14. The town with a population of more than 15,000 scored a violent crime rate of 2.67 and a property crime rate of 18.43. The median income listed for Fort Mill is more than $71,000.

Clover is listed at No. 25 with a 4.1 violent crime and 28.86 property crime rate. Rock Hill is No. 40 with 6.33 for violent crime, 40.61 for property crime. Chester is No. 49 (7.89 violent crime; 42.92 property crime) followed by York at No. 53 (8.76 violent crime; 47.73 property crime).

“We have been fortunate enough to receive this type of recognition, on several occasions, in the past few years,” said Fort Mill Police Department Maj. Bryan Zachary. “I think it can be attributed to a number of factors, such as our philosophy of proactive policing and the relationship with, and cooperation of the citizens of Fort Mill. Also, the positive and progressive approach taken by our police chief, and the tremendous support that we receive from the town administration, mayor and town council members.”

The listing compares 72 of South Carolina’s 271 municipalities. Cities and towns with too small a population weren’t included. Neither were municipalities that failed to report all the FBI data used in the calculations.

The overall state violent crime rate of 6.14 is above the national rate of 4.49.

In its fifth year, the list has many repeat entries showing a trend among some of the safer communities in the state. SafeWise for the first time conducted a “State of Safety” survey finding what issues most concerned residents. Property crime was No. 1, specifically break-ins. Theft was the most reported property crime.

SafeWise found communities on the Top 20 list, as a group, had violent crime rates more than two times lower than the national average.

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