Weekly Update

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Last month, I wrote to you about the encouraging fact that murders are down roughly 20% from last year. At the same time, however, property crime has increased, primarily driven by car thefts.

Earlier this week, Police Chief Davis spoke to the city council about the issue, what the department is doing to combat it, what citizens can do to help, and the challenges that exist to enforce the law. 

First, 34% of cars stolen in Memphis this year are Hyundai and Kia models. “This trend started first in the streets of Milwaukee, where a teen group named “Kia Boyz” started breaking into the car’s security systems.” “[M]odels of Hyundai and Kia manufactured from 2011 to 2021 are most at risk because these cars lack an engine immobilizer and can be operated with a traditional mechanical key.”  “Thieves take out the ignition module and start the car’s ignition with the help of a USB cable." [hotcars.com]

“For months, Kia owners across the United States have been reporting the same problem; their cars keep getting stolen by thieves using just a USB cord.” [Washington Post]  And it only takes 20 to 30 seconds to do it.  [CNBC] Young people have learned to replicate what started in Milwaukee due to social media.  [CNBC] The videos showing these thefts have been viewed 33 million times on TikTok.  A video entitled “Kia Boys Documentary” has been viewed 3.7 million times, and the filmmaker said, “This is what they do for after-school entertainment.”

Also similar to other cities, a growing number of juveniles are committing these crimes.  In Memphis, the police department has arrested 1,266 people for auto theft this year.  From that number, 417--33% of the total—are under 18 years of age. The number one age category of all ages is 16 years old.  Also, 18% of the total are 18 to 20 years old.



The Memphis Police Department is taking this issue seriously.  To garner the 1,266 arrests this year, MPD has an Auto Theft Task Force of 10 officers, and every patrol officer is working to combat this issue.  In addition, they are working with businesses and communities suffering the most consistent offenses.  They will also be giving out 1,000 steering wheel locks soon, with Kia and Hyundai owners getting first priority.

Chief Davis and her team (as well as departments across the country) are advising citizens to not leave their cars running, use a steering wheel locking device, install a car alarm, and do not keep personal items or valuables in your car.

The challenges for police are many on this issue.  First, parents—as Chief Davis said this week, parents need to do their part and keep up with their children’s whereabouts.   For instance, just yesterday, two young teens were captured by video stealing packages from front porches during school hours. Currently, there is nothing in the state law to hold parents accountable for thefts committed by their children.

Second, there is no or little punishment or accountability for the thief.  Veteran prosecutors tell me that most adult car thieves get diversion or probation—meaning no prison time.  And for juveniles, there is no punishment and, due to lack of funding, very little intervention.

So, the revolving door that exists for too many violent criminals is much more prevalent for thieves.  As a result, it appears that almost all of the 1,266 individuals arrested this year for auto theft are not being held in jail.  Police officers have to arrest the same people over and over.  Several months ago, I wrote you about data from several weeks of arrests; 105 juveniles were arrested for auto theft and 57% of them had pending cases also for auto theft.

Bottom line, Memphis police are working very hard to combat this national trend that reached Memphis this past Spring, but until the judicial system and parents are also held accountable for their actions, it will be a long, frustrating time for all of us.

The Legacy at Countrywood: As you may have seen earlier this week, a $400 million, 170-acre urban mixed-use development—the Legacy at Countrywood—was announced. The development features a residential neighborhood, senior living campus, office, retail, commercial, hotel and multi-family units and is located on the former north course of Colonial Country Club.


The mixed-use development will include a 130-room hotel, 40,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, 305 senior living units, 300 multifamily units and 541 single-family residential lots, as well as lakes and significant parks and open spaces.

The Legacy at Countrywood will bring a quality development that complements the existing neighborhood and the Colonial Country Club, and equally important, it adds significant new tax revenue once completed. The total additional city and county property taxes expected to be generated by the development during the term of the Tax Increment Incentive are estimated to exceed $127 million, with approximately $47 million going to the City of Memphis and approximately $58 million to Shelby County.

I’m excited about this project and the potential it will bring to this part of our city.

The ribbon cutting: Tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. we will officially cut the ribbon on the new state-of-the-art, 227,000 sq. ft. Memphis Sports and Events Center (what I call our youth sports complex) in Liberty Park.


If you are interested in coming by to check it out, please join us tomorrow. We will have refreshments and tours of the facility after we cut the ribbon. I have had an opportunity to take a sneak peek and, trust me when I say, you are going to want to see inside this amazing facility. It will be a tremendous asset for our city, and I cannot wait to open it up to the public.

For more information on youth and adult leagues, please join us tomorrow or visit the Liberty Park website.

Enjoy your weekend!


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