MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - If you're headed out to Shelby Farms, make sure you lock your car and hide your valuables, crooks are on the hunt. Deputies say there's been a rash of car break-ins and most are simply crimes of convenience.
Every day hundreds of runners, bikers and walkers hit the trails at Shelby Farms, leaving their cars and valuables behind. Lawanah Smith hasn't been speed walking at Shelby Farms in nearly a year, this is her first day back. "I haven't been coming over here to do my speed walking because I was one of the statistics, I got robbed in that car."
Smith has been nervous to leave her car out of her sight at the park since then. "I left the car unlocked," she says, "I thought I had locked it, I left my purse hidden and it was taken."
Shelby County Sheriff's spokesperson Chip Washington says cases like Smith's are becoming common in all the parking areas of the farm, despite law enforcement presence. "We do plenty of patrols out there but it seems as soon as you leave patrolling the area, here they come." Washington adds, "The general public can help us out, by not leaving their car doors unlocked and with not leaving valuables in the seat."
ABC 24 News cameras caught several cars with valuables out in the open. Emily Ervin had her purse sitting in plain sight, but she didn't seem worried. "I took everything I needed out of it," she said.
Rach Vendetti says she wouldn't even chance it. "I won't tell you where I hide them because I don't want anyone to steal them. I either hide valuables in my car or leave them at home, wear my key around my neck."
Washington says, "When you leave a valuable in the seat of a car, the GPS, wallet, laptop, money, whatever, it's like bees to honey, criminals are attracted to that."