HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) We often only get a quick snapshot of crime, a quick look through the lens when devastation occurs, at neighbors or family dealing with a tragedy.
So WMBF News decided to dig deeper.
We requested a list of every violent crime that's happened over the last five years from Myrtle Beach police, Horry County police, and several towns in Horry County.
When it comes to the big crimes, rapes and homicides, Myrtle Beach and Horry County are pretty similar.
There were 21 homicides in the city limits over the past five years, while there were 20 within the county.
However, Horry County had more rapes, 270, versus the 257 rapes that occurred in Myrtle Beach over the past five years.
At the Myrtle Beach Police Department, officer Pete Woods is in charge of keeping track. He says there's no definite formula to determine which neighborhood in the city limits is more dangerous than others.
"No, there's no distinct pattern for violent crime where you would say it's this neighborhood as opposed to that neighborhood," said Woods. "There are neighborhoods that definitely have an extremely low crime rate and there's many factors in that."
Among them, he says, a low population and not many stores.
Based on the crime stats WMBF News received, one of the safer places to live on the Grand Strand is Surfside Beach.
Our investigation found no murders within the last five years within the city limits. The new police chief isn't sure if they've ever had one.
Surfside Beach also claims a low number of sexual violent crimes. There were five cases of rape and sex assaults over the past five years.
"Rape, not just here but also nationwide, is a crime of violence," said officer Woods. "And its peak months are usually in July and August."
As we enter the winter months and the holiday season, officer Woods expects more house break-ins on the Grand Strand.
But Lynda Thomas and her husband are hoping a $20 motion detector in the long driveway at the side of their house will keep them from becoming victims. It alerts them inside their house with a chime anytime someone walks or drives through the drive way.
"We wanted to protect the quality of life we have here," said Mrs. Thomas, "and ensure that everybody is benefiting from the quality of life that we enjoy here."
In her efforts, Thomas started the Pine Lakes Estates Neighborhood Watch several years ago. Neighbors now know each other's patterns: when people leave for work and who only lives here at certain times of the year.
Thomas is also a big proponent of Myrtle Beach's recent gun buyback program, which was so successful organizers ran out of $100 Costco gift cards.
In the end, police say, 140 guns were handed-over.
Although this point is hotly debated, police argue these are guns that could've wound-up being stolen and used in crimes.
"From what I've been told," Thomas added, "there are homeowners that know that they have guns in their houses but they don't even know where they are. They wouldn't know if they were missing."
Meanwhile, officer Woods says there is a way you can try to protect yourself even if someone is physically attacking you.
He always recommends you have your keys in one hand and your cell phone in the other. If you think you're about to be attacked, he says call 911 even if you can't say anything. Dispatchers will trace your call and send officers to you as soon as they can.
Concealed weapons are also an option in South Carolina. But first you have to undergo a SLED-approved training course.
For more tips on how to keep yourself and your family safe, visit the Crime page of WMBFNews.com.