Asked and answered... "We saw a photo of a newspaper ad circling social media about Myrtle Beach being on the 'most dangerous cities' list... We've been coming for years, and this seems rather odd. Do you have any information?"
Asked and answered... “We saw a photo of a newspaper ad circling social media about Myrtle Beach being on the 'most dangerous cities' list. We’ve been coming for years, and this seems rather odd. Is this 'fake news?' Do you have any information?”
Yes, and thanks for asking! Such lists aren't all they appear to be. What you’re seeing is misleading information that’s being promoted by companies as a marketing tool for their services. This question comes up every year, and we are happy to provide accurate information.
How does the city land on this list? It happens because Myrtle Beach is a small town (our permanent population is roughly 30,000), but we welcome millions of visitors each year. That small-town feeling is exactly why people love to visit, but the low permanent population skews the results. Here’s how these numbers are created.
The FBI provides per capita crime statistics based on permanent population. Obviously, our average daily population is much greater than 100,000, but because our Census population is so small, it dramatically skews the numbers. Other cities with lots of tourism have their numbers skewed, too, but ours is especially noticeable since our permanent population is so small.
The FBI knows this and even puts a disclaimer out with its numbers, but the web sites that promote this “fear factor” as part of their marketing conveniently ignore this caution. Here’s what the FBI says….
“UCR data are sometimes used to compile rankings of individual jurisdictions and institutions of higher learning. These incomplete analyses have often created misleading perceptions which adversely affect geographic entities and their residents. For this reason, the FBI has a long-standing policy against ranking participating law enforcement agencies on the basis of crime data alone.
"Despite repeated warnings against these practices, some data users continue to challenge and misunderstand this position. Data users should not rank locales because there are many factors that cause the nature and type of crime to vary from place to place... Rankings ignore the uniqueness of each locale.“
As the marketing companies hope, the news media pick up on these “most dangerous” stories because it’s ready-made news for them. If they bother to check with the FBI or even think about why a small town with a big tourism population stands out, they’d understand pretty quickly why the numbers are skewed.
Note that other small town tourist spots are on the list. Why? For the same reason. When you divide the number of crimes by the permanent population, you get a statistic. But our 30,000 grows by 10-fold at least half the year. If they used our effective population number, we wouldn’t be anywhere near that list. The actual number of crimes is very low, but you don’t see that. All you see is a misleading statistic promoted by a company that’s out to sell you something.
We hope this helps you understand why this so-called news story comes up yearly. You’d think the media would learn by now. Feel free to share this information with other who likely will be misled by these scare tactics.