Memphis car thefts up 117 percent since last year

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Car thefts in the city of Memphis are soaring, and Memphis police now have a warning for drivers.

Memphis police said not locking your car is a big mistake for many drivers, and the biggest reason for the 117 percent rise in car thefts over the past year.

"I've had plenty of friends who've had stuff taken out of their cars; I've had stuff taken out of my car," said Kat Smith, who lives in Memphis.

Between January and August 2016, there were 309 car thefts. This year, there have been 673.

"We've got to get our crime down, and we need their help," said Colonel Joe Oakley with the Mt. Moriah precinct.

Just overnight, police said there were seven cars stolen, and that only accounts for the Mt Moriah area.

Col. Joe Oakley said in four cases, the cars were either running or the keys were inside – two things he said you should not do.

"There was one at an ATM, the victim jumped out of the car to get some cash out and there were two at a convenience store," Col. Oakley said.

In July, a father was charged after running inside the gas station to buy some juice, leaving his 2-year son inside the car. Someone stole the car with the boy inside.

"To come outside and not know my son was gone, I blacked out for a minute," Peterson said.

Both kids were found safe. Police said the most important thing to do is use common sense.

"Don't leave your car running unattended," Col. Oakley said.

Police also want to warn drivers about a fairly new city ordinance. They can issue you a citation or write you a ticket for leaving your car running and unattended.

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