HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – Crime rates from 2016 show the Horry County Police Department's efforts to target and reduce property crime appear to be working.
"As long as we keep that trend up, I'm sure the community will notice," said Lt. Raul Denis.
The total number of property crimes - burglaries, shoplifting, larcenies and car break-ins - as well as robberies, which are also considered violent crimes, reported to the HCPD from the start of the year through Dec. 18, has decreased 11.3 percent from 2015 to 2016.
The total number of such reports was 7,397 in 2013, 8,020 in 2014, 8,036 in 2015 and 7,128 year-to-date for 2016.
"It's good that we're seeing success and Chief Hill is very proactive about that stuff. He really is," Denis said. "Chief Hill is taking a really good look at long-term efforts to reduce crime and improve the quality of life here."
The holidays and the summer tourist season are when crime is more likely to happen in Horry County. Because of that, the department has been assigning special details to officers during those times to reduce the numbers, according to Denis.
"(We're) just conducting very specific types of patrols to try to discourage it from happening in the first place or try to catch the bad guys if they do do it," he said.
The department has extra patrols set up now, so officers are directed to certain areas where property crimes are more likely happen. They may be in marked cars in full uniform, or undercover.
Either way, they're being pulled from other duties to focus on crimes that affect the public this time of year.
"It's difficult and it's draining our resources a lot of times, but sometimes it's necessary," Denis said. "It's the lesser of two evils, especially when you're talking about holiday-type crimes and things as dangerous as armed robberies."
Ten fewer robberies have been reported this year compared to last, and the difference is even larger when compared to the years prior to 2015.
"You can have now weeks and months where you have no armed robberies occurring, where before it was just pretty constant," Denis said.
Reports of burglaries, car break-ins, larcenies and shoplifting are all also declining. Burglaries are down nearly 20 percent.
"Crime stats look really good. We've been making progress," Denis said. "Over the last four, five years, we've consistently reduced our numbers."
Car thefts have increased by three percent, however. Denis said that number could include cars that were reported stolen, but were actually towed or repossessed. He added it could also be attributed to a change in population.
Overall, Denis said the trend is positive, but more work remains.
"We've seen it all go down noticeably. It's good for us. We understand we're not out of the woods yet," he said. "We're still working with limited resources. We're still working out people as hard as we can work them. They're stepping up and doing the job they're here to do."
The Horry County Police Department has filled all of its open patrol positions, which Denis said had reached nearly 30 openings at one point. He added some training is still going on, so everyone should be in place come January.
He also said crime trend analysis will play a role in reducing crime in the coming years.
"It does pay off in the long run to try to find trends and the crime that's occurring to target future crime and either prevent it or solve it quickly and it works," he said.