Reported crime in Memphis has dropped 16 percent this year. But the Memphis Commercial Appeal says that even below-average crime in Memphis, even on a “slow” week, still means hundreds of burglaries, hundreds of assaults, arrests for drugs and prostitution, broken car windows, stolen vehicles, sexual assaults and homicide.
Murder and other violent crimes receive most of the attention in Memphis, the city’s image plagued by an average of more than 160 murders per year since 2001. The city’s “true” crime problem — says a Commercial Appeal examination of a decade of police data and an intense week on the streets with officers — follows a less-sensational story line. In the last 9 years, the city has logged more than 1 million criminal incidents. Records of these incidents — tens of thousands of burglaries, car thefts, swindles of every stripe, assaults, and an assortment of other violent acts — create the mosaic of a desperately poor city struggling with drug addiction, social dysfunction, and an underground economy sustained by a toxic industry — crime.