Major violent crimes in Memphis and Shelby County are down for the second month in a row, according to the latest numbers released by the Memphis Shelby County Crime Commission (MSCCC).
Compared to January and February of 2016, major violent crimes — which include rape, murder, robberies, and aggravated assault — have decreased by 2.8 percent in Memphis proper, and 2.9 percent for all of Shelby County.
Though major violent crimes in the city and county are decreasing, the overall crime rate for Memphis is up by 7.6 percent compared to January 1 through February 28 of 2016. Shelby County's overall crime has also increased by 5.2 percent.
Memphis Shelby County Crime Commission
The 2017 figure is a 30.3% decrease from 2006 and a 12.7% increase from 2016.Source: Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI). The 2017 TBI figures are preliminary.
According to the MSCCC, much of the rise in the area's overall crime rate can be attributed to an increase in major property crimes, particularly motor vehicle thefts. Memphis' property crime rate is up from 2016 by 14.6 percent, Shelby County by 12.7 percent. Major property crimes also include burglaries and other theft offenses.
Memphis Police Department Director Michael Rallings has urged Memphians to prevent motor theft with one suggestion; try not to leave your vehicle running when you are not occupying it.
"We must do our due diligence when securing our vehicles," the police director said. "Leaving vehicles running while unattended has contributed to a rise in auto thefts. It is not only illegal by city ordinance, but also leaves you vulnerable to being a crime victim."
The increase in property crimes is a departure from the overall trend of the last ten years in Memphis and Shelby County. Collectively, there has been a 30 percent drop city and countywide in the last decade.
The same goes for the overall crime rate for Memphis and Shelby County. Collectively, the area's crime rate has decreased by 20.2 percent since 2006.
Bill Gibbons, president of the MSCCC has called the drop in violent crimes, "encouraging", adding that "this is an area where we can all agree that progress is essential."
Gibbons has also noted that at this point, it's too early to guess at any specific cause for the drop in violent crimes, but notes that he does know that, "local law enforcement is approaching violent crime with a renewed focus on using available resources in a productive, data-driven way."
"While encouraged by the decline in violent crime so far this year compared to last year, I can't say at this point it's a trend," said Gibbons, who added, "We'll have to wait and see."