Metro police drive common sense message home

Sunday, June 20, 2010 at 11:45pm

How many times do you have to tell someone to do something before they change their behavior?

If you ask officers with the Metro Nashville Police Department, they will likely say too many.

For nearly a decade, police — through the Park Smart auto theft prevention program — have been urging motorists to hide valuables, lock their vehicles and take the keys when parking, even for just a few minutes.

The message may seem simple, but 40 percent of cars that are reported stolen in Davidson County each year have the keys left inside, according to police spokeswoman Kristin Mumford.

“[The percentage has] pretty much held steady each year,” she said. “But you can’t stop educating people, even if they continue with the behavior.”

But the number of auto thefts has decreased since the program’s inception.

From Jan. 1 to June 12, only 888 auto thefts have been reported in Davidson County. In August 2000, when former Chief Emmett Turner launched the program, the department reported that 3,024 cars had been stolen between Jan. 1 and Aug. 16.

In 2008, there were 2,693 car thefts (1,065 with keys) and in 2009, there were 1,759 (743 with keys), Mumford said.

“The program really is helpful in our downtown areas,” she said. “And around Christmas, we hit hard around the malls.”

During the CMA Music Festival, Central Precinct officers got creative in their educational efforts. They handed out custom-made guitar picks branded with the Park Smart message: “Remove keys, lock your doors [and] put valuables in the trunk.”

The tiny plastic plectrums, which are inexpensive and tangible reminders to use common sense when parking downtown, received an overwhelmingly positive response from downtown visitors.

Another way officers are spreading the message is by putting fliers on cars that have valuables in plain view.

“They actually have officers walk from car to car, and if they see your GPS systems, your laptop, a purse kind of haphazardly pushed under a seat, they put a flier on your car,” Mumford said.

Funds for the Park Smart program come from each precinct’s discretionary fund.

4 Comments on this post:

By: idgaf on 6/21/10 at 3:21

Handing out water would have been more productive. Or at least leave the Boy Scouts alone.

Seems like a waste of time to go car to car to recognise/identify stupidity. A gotcha game.

By: HokeyPokey on 6/22/10 at 6:35

Let's add to the list:

Park in front of your own house, not mine...
Park on the street, not the sidewalk...
Don't dump your trash where you park, take it inside.

By: Alphadog7 on 6/22/10 at 8:15

How about "Park Legally" picks for those in East Nashville?

1. Park with traffic - not against.
2. Don't park in the middle of a traffic lane.
3. Don't park in a bike lane.
4. You are not so important that you can do whatever the heck you want.

Then we can make guitar picks to give to the police...

1. Please enforce the parking laws!!!

By: bringingbackcom... on 6/26/10 at 4:04

"Keep up the good work, Metropolitan Nashville Police Department. The neighborhoods are a whole lot better with you than without you.!"

"While I cant agree on everything that takes place internally and externally within the department , "GOD forbid that this world was just a free for all to do whatever you wanted and with no repurcussions, I serve the 4th district and I have your back.!"

I am Stephen Downs and I have approved this message.