Residential burglaries in Memphis jumped by by 12.2 percent last year, says the Memphis Commercial Appeal. “I don’t buy the notion that it’s driven by the economy,” said Shelby County prosecutor Bill Gibbons. “I don’t believe a burglar is breaking into houses to put food on the table for his family.” It’s a problem police and prosecutors hope to tamp down through aggressive policing and more rigorous prosecution. “I know what’s happening in our community, and we’ve got to get a handle on that,” said Police Director Larry Godwin.
Officers are patrolling burglary hot spots and encouraging neighbors to keep an eye out for each other. “Our efforts at prevention and apprehension are getting better,” said Deputy Chief David Martello. Prosecutors are also trying to do their part. Charges against an indicted burglary suspect can no longer be reduced without the approval of a senior prosecutor. Gibbons has assigned a team of prosecutors to work with burglary detectives to help develop provable cases. Godwin and Gibbons are lobbying for tougher sentencing laws. Citing the case of a career criminal who was released nine months before a 3-year term for aggravated burglary was to have ended, Gibbons complained: “They get parole just long enough to go commit another crime and go back in.”