Is Orangeburg Safe? Crime Rates & Safety Report

Updated On March 13, 2024
Orangeburg, United States
Safety Index:
* Based on Research & Crime Data

Orangeburg, South Carolina, is a small town southeast of Columbia, home to Claflin University and South Carolina State University.

It is nicknamed “The Garden City” for the stunning gardens along the Edisto River.

However, there is an actual place named Garden City in South Carolina that is nowhere near Orangeburg.

Orangeburg was settled in the 1700s as a fur trading center and its position on the river fueled economic development.

The city also saw some of the worst of the Civil Rights movement in the mid-1900s.

The Orangeburg Massacre took the lives of three students and injured dozens more when law enforcement opened fire on a group of African American students protesting against segregation.

A memorial now stands to honor the victims of that tragedy.

Both universities are historically black colleges, and South Carolina State is the only public HBCU in the state.

It’s also among the most influential.

Outside the university, the community of 13,000 is highly residential, with most activities geared around the colleges or the river.

Warnings & Dangers in Orangeburg

Overall Risk


There's really no getting around the fact that Orangeburg is a medium risk due to historically high crime rates that keep growing. It's not too dangerous to visit, but you want to have an agenda and directions before you arrive.

Transport & Taxis Risk


Check out the Cross County Connection public transportation system to see if it would meet your needs. Taxis and rideshares should be easy to find. Having a rental car is your best option, especially since the city is so rural. Keep this one at a medium risk just to be safe.

Pickpockets Risk


Over the past 10 years, just three pickpockets or purse snatchings have been reported. Statistically, that's a low risk, but it skyrockets when it comes to leaving valuables in your vehicle.

Natural Disasters Risk


You need to be weather-aware when visiting Orangeburg. Hurricanes can move inland and cause destruction. Severe weather is most likely in the spring, but that risk does span throughout the year, with a secondary season in November. With the average high in July getting close to 90°F, heat exhaustion and dehydration are risks.

Mugging Risk


While the robbery rate is 167% higher than the national average, just 20% of those were highway robberies over the past decade. Treat it as a medium risk and stay in well-lit areas at night.

Terrorism Risk


International terrorism isn't a concern here, but I would call excessive gun shootings a type of domestic terrorism. The homicide rate in Orangeburg was seven times higher than the national average in 2022.

Scams Risk


The scams reported here over the past few years were highly focused on residents. For example, a jury duty scam made headlines. The risk for a traveler is low, but with one in four people living in poverty, you will likely face panhandlers.

Women Travelers Risk


Women should use extra caution here due to the high crime rates. In one incident, a woman was carjacked in a Walmart parking lot and removed from her car at gunpoint. In another case, a woman met a man at a bar, and she was found in the woods deceased several days later.

Tap Water Risk


The only low risk in Orangeburg comes from the tap, and the 2022 Water Quality Report shows full compliance and no violations. If you're staying in an older home or hotel, let the water run for a few minutes if the faucet has been stagnant. This will remove any lead from the pipes that eroded into the water.

Safest Places to Visit in Orangeburg

The Orangeburg Chamber of Commerce website is the best I can find for tourists.

It does cover all of Orangeburg County, which covers the western edge of Lake Marion.

Edisto Memorial Gardens is a 175-acre floral paradise along the Edisto River.

Horne Wetlands Park is also part of the gardens.

Flowers here date back to the 1920s.

It’s also a historic location at the scene of a Civil War battle.

Paddlers should explore the Edisto River Canoe and Kayak Trail, a unique body of water as it’s the only river within one state and is the longest free-flowing blackwater river.

(A blackwater river is a slow-moving variety that goes through forests and wetlands.

The dark water is from the tannins in the vegetation.)

The I.P. Stanback Museum & Planetarium combines an art museum with a planetarium under one roof at South Carolina State University.

The museum focuses on the humanities and cultural works, while the planetarium offers educational programs about space and science.

The Orangeburg National Fish Hatchery is part of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, but several sections are open to the public, including a 100-acre reservoir for fishing and boating.

Alligators do live in this area, so use caution.

Stick to the observation walk when you’re enjoying the trails.

The Max Family Entertainment Center is a mix of an arcade, an indoor amusement park, laser tag, go-karts, and so much more.

This is a great rainy day activity that is fun for the whole family.

Places to Avoid in Orangeburg

Orangeburg isn’t that big to have parts of town to avoid, and crime is so rampant that you can’t really pinpoint the most dangerous parts of town.

On top of that, the police department once offered crime mapping on its website, but as of October 2023, it says it is being “updated.”

However, I’m writing this well into 2024, and it’s still not working.

Since I can’t give you the exact parts of town to avoid, I would suggest sticking to the main roads and attractions geared toward visitors.

Try to take care of your travel business during the day and avoid being out at night.

Since nearly half of all violent crimes happen in homes, you’ll want to avoid the neighborhood streets anyway.

My best advice is to treat Orangeburg like a high-crime area of a big city and use street smarts and common sense.

Some of you might be surprised to learn there is gang activity in small-town South Carolina, and gang members are particularly ruthless and indifferent to innocent bystanders getting caught in the middle.

You’ll also be in a safer place by taking advantage of outdoor activities like boating, hiking, and camping.

Safety Tips for Traveling to Orangeburg

  1. Law enforcement comes from the Orangeburg Department of Public Safety. Follow them on Facebook @OrangeburgDepartmentOfPublicSafety to get updates on crime and safety during your visit. You can call (803) 534-2812 or email to ask specific safety questions.
  2. Download the Tip411 app so you can send anonymous crime tips to the police. It’s important to help the police spot trouble while it’s happening or see trends in certain areas.
  3. Use the CodeRED app to sign up for emergency alerts so that you can get severe weather, tropical storm/hurricane updates, and public safety alerts.
  4. The city has a form you can fill out to report a concern, with common problems being dead animals or potholes. You only have to give your email address to submit this complaint. South Carolina roads are infamous for having a lot of potholes.
  5. Orangeburg doesn’t have many hotels. In fact, I can only find one or two that I would even consider staying in. Most of the hotels are near I-26, which would be the safest place to stay, and it’s a few miles from town.
  6. The website for the University of South Carolina is If you are attending the school or a parent whose child is attending, look at the Law Enforcement and Safety section to see crime maps and safety alerts, and sign up for emergency texts.
  7. Call boxes are located around campus with blue lights. These are to be used in case of an emergency or if a student doesn’t feel safe walking in the area.
  8. As a college town, people will be driving, biking, riding mopeds, and skateboarding around the community. Keep your eyes on the road and watch out for other vehicles. If you’re a pedestrian, always go to the next intersection to cross the street.
  9. While it doesn’t get very cold here in the winter, mornings with frost on the windshield can happen. You’ll want to scrape that off before you drive. If you don’t have an ice scraper, use a credit card. If you let your car warm up, stay with the vehicle to avoid it getting stolen.
  10. Learn the difference between the different storm watches and warnings here. For example, a tornado watch means conditions exist for tornadoes to form. A tornado warning means one has been spotted, and you should seek shelter immediately.

So... How Safe Is Orangeburg Really?

I found out two things while researching the crime rates in Orangeburg.

First, it’s repeatedly ranked among the most dangerous in the state.

Second, there are a lot of places with Orangeburg in the name that come up in census and crime data.

Imagine my surprise when I first crunched the crime statistics that it wasn’t THAT bad.

I mean, a few peaks here and there with a disturbing rising crime trend over a decade – but nothing egregious.

I always double-check my data, and that’s when I realized I was applying Orangeburg COUNTY census numbers to Orangeburg city crime.

The whole story changed.

If Orangeburg isn’t the most dangerous city in the state, it’s sure close.

The violent crime rate is more than three times the state average and four times the national average.

Statistically, one in 63 residents will be a victim of violent crime.

Further concerning is that the rate has grown 243% since 2012.

Property crime is nearly 200% higher than the national average.


167% higher.

Thefts are 182% higher than the national average, and 31% of those are car break-ins or accessory thefts.

On the other hand, just 14% of violent crimes in 2022 were against strangers.

Looking back at the five-year trend, that number is 12%.

Orangeburg is a city suffering from systemic poverty, a lack of things to do, and high crime rates fueled by drugs and gun crimes.

There are safer places to stay in South Carolina than in Orangeburg, and aside from the few places to visit we mentioned above, I wouldn’t recommend stopping here.

How Does Orangeburg Compare?

CitySafety Index
Las Vegas62
San Francisco61
Manama (Bahrain)54
Tianjin (China)67
Brussels (Belgium)60
Shanghai (China)66
Belize City (Belize)37
La Paz (Bolivia)52

Useful Information



Citizens participating in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) can travel to the U.S. for tourism or business purposes for stays of up to 90 days without obtaining a visa, provided they qualify for ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) approval. Otherwise, a visa is required that details the purpose of the trip (school, work, tourist, etc.) A valid passport is also required.



The U.S. Dollar is the only currency accepted in the United States. I wouldn't carry cash around Orangeburg with the high crime rates. Use credit cards, but check if your bank charges a foreign transaction fee.



High temperatures in Orangeburg rarely get below the 50s F, and only a handful of nights get below freezing. May through September will be hot and humid. Plan to bring bug spray, sunscreen, and comfortable shoes.



Columbia Metropolitan Airport (CAE) is about 45 minutes away from Orangeburg. That's the closest and largest option nearby.

Travel Insurance

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Orangeburg Weather Averages (Temperatures)

Jan 8° C
Feb 10° C
Mar 14° C
Apr 18° C
May 22° C
Jun 26° C
Jul 27° C
Aug 27° C
Sep 24° C
Oct 18° C
Nov 13° C
Dec 9° C
Choose Temperature Unit

Average High/Low Temperature

Temperature / MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec

South Carolina - Safety by City

CitySafety Index
Folly Beach68
Fort Mill78
Hilton Head Island79
Isle of Palms81
Mount Pleasant78
Myrtle Beach65
North Augusta70
Pawleys Island82
Rock Hill63
St. Helena Island78
Sullivan’s Island80
Travelers Rest77
West Columbia65

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