In the week before this issue went to press, Memphis was hopping with activity.There was the opening of the Levitt Shell, the B-52s at Live at the Garden, and the annual Cooper-Young Festival. Between these larger events, I had plenty keeping me busy. Dinner at one of my favorite Midtown restaurants and running into one of my favorite couples, after-work cocktails with the girls at the Cove, trivia night at my favorite watering hole, and dinner with my family.
Unfortunately, in the middle of all this wonderful activity, there was a bit too much criminal activity for my comfort.
That couple I saw at dinner? I ran into them again at Live at the Garden, where they informed me their car was broken into while they dined. That after-work girls night? My car was sideswiped (leaving the driver door all but impossible to open), and the culprit didn't have the decency to leave a note. I shouldn't have been surprised. The first time it happened (a week after I bought it) whoever took a nice chunk out of the side didn't leave a note either.
Now all of this stuff is just annoying. It's not violent, it's not life-or-death, but it certainly gets old.
After the Cooper-Young Festival, I sat outside, listening to some music, reading, and enjoying the cool night air. My patio is tucked back from the street, so the man on the bike didn't see me as he cruised past the cars parked on the street, checked out their contents, and then pulled into a driveway, hopped off the bike, opened his backpack, and began to walk around a house currently being renovated. No one was home, and because of the repairs, the home's security door is unhinged, leaving it virtually unprotected.
I sat quietly, hoping he'd just ride off.
Now, I don't run around playing vigilante, but I wasn't about to let my neighbors get looted- again. I picked up the phone and called 545-COPS, the nonemergency number for the Memphis Police Department. Plenty of people were out on the streets (the Cooper-Young spillover), so I felt relatively safe when I yelled over to him:
HEY! WHATCHA DOING? I WAS JUST CURIOUS. SO ARE THE COPS I'M ON THE PHONE WITH!
He hopped on his bike, rode toward me, and began screaming obscenities. Though he thought I was on the phone with the police, I was on hold, and I would be for a bit. Long story short, the cops never showed up. Granted, with the Festival and the Southern Heritage Classic both underway, it couldn't have been a worse night to need a copor a better night to be a criminal.
I went door-to-door, letting the neighbors know to be on the lookout. They all knew who I was referring to, and many had similar run-ins with the guy.
I went to bed knowing that he was still out there, but feeling that at least I'd done something that may cause him to think twice before coming back, and giving the neighbors a heads-up to boot.
It felt pretty good.
I'm not suggesting anyone put themselves in harm's way, but what I am saying is that there are neighborhood watch groups just waiting to be formed. Neighborhood hotlines warning of a prowler or any type of suspicious activity waiting to be created. And yes, police waiting to be called. I hesitated before calling last weekend. I felt almost obligated to wait until he actually broke a window or kicked in a door before I had a legitimate complaint. Then I realized just how backward my logic was - the whole point of calling is to alert police before something bad happens, right?
I won't hesitate again. I hope you don't ever have the need to call, but if you do, I hope you won't hesitate either.