MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – The 15th circuit solicitor says some criminals target international students who come for summer jobs on the Grand Strand because it can be difficult to prosecute the cases.
That’s because the victim will likely back home before their case gets heard, so the solicitor’s office started moving those cases to the front of the line to process them faster.
Around 4,000 foreign students get work visas on the Grand Strand each summer, they come for about 3 months and then head back home; but it’s that short amount of time they’re here that leaves them open to crime.
“They are a target for robberies or assaults simply because those people that are thinking through this know they’re going to be gone in 90 days,” said Solicitor Jimmy Richardson, who added that’s why it’s important to prosecute the cases while the victims are still in the area.
“If they’re back in Uzbekistan, it makes it very difficult for us to prosecute the crime that took place in the first place,” said Richardson.
Richardson says Myrtle Beach Police alerted his office to the problem last year. “We figured out that the defendant was just more than willing to wait it out,” he said.
It generally takes about a month after an arrest for a case to get on his desk, but he’s been able to work with judges to move that time line up for these victims.
“Immediately put it on a trial roster, just in case it’s going to be a trial, and hurry that case up so we can be done with that case in 90 days,” said Richardson.
Richardson says they successfully prosecuted such a case, when a student was robbed the first day she arrived in Myrtle Beach.
“That victim is back in whatever country she was from and the defendant is still on the first part of a long sentence,” he said.
Richardson added that moving the cases forward makes sure criminals are brought to justice without bogging down the system.
“This year we’ll have over 9,000 felony warrants that come into Horry County, so 1 or 2 or 15; it won’t put any sort of stress on the system, actually its better it gives us a reason to immediately try these cases,” explained Richardson.
Local law enforcement also works to prevent student workers from becoming victims in the first place. Educational outreach programs are held throughout the summer, the first one will be held in May.