MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Independence Day weekend and Memorial Day weekend each brought thousands of people to the area and hundreds of police reports. Crime statistics revealed how this past weekend compared to one of the most violent weekends in Myrtle Beach's history.
The Clay Brittain Jr. Center for Resort Tourism puts together weekly lodging updates that looks at occupancy levels, travel trends, and weather forecasts to predict how many people will be in the Grand Strand area every week.
For the weekend of May 23-24, the Brittain Center predicted occupancy was near or above 90 percent. For the weekend of July 4-5, the Brittain Center predicted occupancy was near or above 94 percent.
Essentially, this means tourism experts predicted more people were in town during the Independence Day weekend than the Memorial Day weekend. However, comparing crime reports shows a different trend: more violence during the Memorial Day weekend.
Sifting through page after page of police reports from the Myrtle Beach Police Department, it took three times longer to file through the number of reports from the Memorial Day weekend than Independence Day weekend.
The search through police reports included four days of each holiday: May 23-26 and July 4-7.
For both holiday weekends, the top crime issue included larceny and burglaries - nearly 135 cases during the Memorial Day weekend, and less than 30 this past weekend.
Drug infractions accounted for 75 crime reports during the weekend in May, versus 10 over the last four days.
There were 20 reports regarding vandalism during Memorial Day, seven during Independence Day.
Weapon Law Violations were 15 to 0, assault calls nearly 20 to eight, sexual offenses three to one, amongst various other police reports filed just within the city limits of Myrtle Beach.
Mayor Jake Evans said it isn't fair to assume the violence over the Memorial Day weekend is connected to the bike rally that his town promotes.
"There is violence all year long. Not just during bike week weekend," said Mayor Evans following a town council meeting Monday night.
Many expected the town council to look through a report regarding the rally on Monday evening. However, there was no mention of the event. It is not clear when the council will address the issue. What is clear is that they are planning on holding the 2015 rally.
"We have to start planning for next year's event as early as possible," Mayor Evans said, adding, "There is a possible meeting with the governor at some point."
Mayor Jake Evans mentioned no one in Atlantic Beach wants to cancel the rally, and believes it brings in about 10 percent of the town's annual budget. He said it simply wouldn't be possible to cancel the event altogether.
"People have a choice to go where they want to go. If they chose to come here, how can you tell them they can't?" Mayor Evans asked.