Business owners fight back against rise in county crime
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC-TV) - According to newly-released crime data, crime is on the rise in Shelby County, but many business owners are fighting back.
The Shelby County Sheriff's Department reports that the number of crimes they've investigated rose 2% in 2008, compared with 2007. It's a trend some business owners say they've witnessed.
Kenny Murray, owner of Memphis' Finest Barber Shop, says he's concerned about the rise in crime. "People in the parking lot who've gotten robbed."
The biggest jump in crime is in the Hickory Hill area, where crime rose 17.5%.
The largest increase in crime on a monthly basis happened in East Shelby County near Arlington and Lakeland, where crime spiked 80% last December, compared with December of 2007.
Murray says citizens in the community must do their part by being more watchful. "It's a great community. The county's a good place to be, but we all need to watch out for one another...just be more neighborly."
Carolyn Kent, who owns Chow Time Buffet and Grill on Hacks Cross Road, knows the frustrations of the living with crime all too well. One morning last September, burglars smashed out one of her store windows with a pick ax and made off with two flat screen televisions in just three minutes.
"We felt violated, of course, because we serve the community," she said.
Kent says she's fighting back. One of her flat screen televisions now displays an elaborate compilation of surveillance camera images.
She plans to organize a "business watch", and she'll hold a meeting at her restaurant later this month with business leaders, members of the sheriff's department and Shelby County Mayor A.C. Wharton.
"What we need to do is send the burglars a message: 'We are not going to take this lying down...we plan to do something about it.'"
The good news is that crime isn't up everywhere in Shelby County: the biggest decrease was in Cordova, where crime fell more than 16% last year.