Violent Crime Down, But Property Crime Up In Memphis & Shelby County

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) - The crime statistics for the first two months of 2017 offer a mixed bag for the city of Memphis and Shelby County. While violent crime is down slightly, law enforcement is dealing with a significant uptick in major property crimes.

That spike in property crimes keeping law enforcement here and countywide busy. Leaders said the spike is unusual, since such crimes were trending downward in the last decade, at more than 30% in Memphis and Shelby County.

“It's just sad you don't have a safe haven to call home anymore,” says resident William Shugars. Shugars was feeling a little rattled, one day after investigators said both of his Hickory Hill neighbors’ cars were stolen while being warmed up.

"I know during cold weather there's a temptation to do that,” says Bill Gibbons of the Memphis Shelby Crime Commission.

Such a crime, and other major property crimes, are a major obstacle for Shelby County authorities so far in 2017.

New data from the Memphis Shelby Crime Commission in January and February showed motor vehicle thefts and other burglaries up nearly 15% in Memphis and nearly 13% countywide.

"Obviously, we just hope that's a bump in the road that's going to reverse itself in the next month or so,” says Gibbons.

The crime data wasn't all negative. Major violent crime, including homicide and aggravated assault, dropped nearly 3% in January and February.

That's on the heels of 2016, when the city of Memphis set a new high for homicides in a calendar year.

"We can be at least cautiously encouraged by the downward trend in major violent crimes so far this year,” says Gibbons.

These statistics for 2017 come as the Memphis Shelby Crime Commission just began a new five-year plan, primarily to combat violent crime.

Gibbons said they should be able to really gauge what's working, and what needs to be tweaked, by next year.

(MEMPHIS SHELBY COUNTY CRIME COMMISSION)

For the second straight month, major violent crime is down in both the City of Memphis and all of Shelby County compared to 2016, based on preliminary data from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation's (T.B.I.'s) Incident Based Reporting System (TIBRS).

In Memphis, for January and February, the major violent crime rate dropped 2.8 percent compared to the first two months of 2016. In all of Shelby County, the decline was 2.9 percent. Major violent crimes include murders, rapes, robberies, and aggravated assaults. (Under the T.B.I.'s system, murder includes the intentional, non-justifiable killing of a person. Not every homicide is a murder.)

Major property crimes (composed of burglaries, motor vehicle thefts, and other felony thefts) increased in January and February of this year compared to the first two months of 2016 by 14.6 percent in Memphis and 12.7 percent countywide. The major cause continues to be an uptick in motor vehicle thefts. For ten straight years (2007-2016), the major property crime rate has trended downward, with a total drop of over 30 percent in both Memphis and countywide.

"Leaving vehicles running while unattended has contributed to the rise in auto thefts. It is not only illegal by city ordinance, but also leaves you vulnerable to being a property crime victim. We must do our due diligence when securing our vehicles," said MPD Director Michael Rallings.

The overall crime rate is measured by 54 separate categories of "Group A crimes" tracked by the T.B.I. In January, the overall crime rate was up in the city of Memphis by 7.6 percent compared to January of last year and up 5.2 percent countywide. The overall crime rate has also been trending downward for the last ten years (2007-2016), with a drop of over 20 percent in both Memphis and all of Shelby County during that time period.

"The drop in major violent crime is encouraging. This is an area where we all agree steady progress is essential," said Bill Gibbons, president of the Memphis Shelby Crime Commission and executive director of the Public Safety Institute at the University of Memphis.

Attached are tables which give a more detailed breakdown of various categories of crime for certain years and comparisons to other years.

 

 


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