West Memphis PD begin new protocol to prevent car break-ins

WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. -- West Memphis Police began an aggressive crime-fighting strategy Tuesday to combat car break-ins.

“I don’t want to say 'explosion' but it’s been a very large spike in property crime, specifically car break-ins,” Capt. Joe Baker said.

Business along the I-40 corridor in West Memphis is growing, according to Baker. Police said it's part of why between 2016 and 2017, the number of car break-ins more than doubled from 26 to 57. The city was on track to have more than triple that number in 2018, he said.

“We’ve taken a heavy dive to look at where, when, hours of the day, time of the day, days of the week and we're pushing a heavy enforcement project in starting today,” Baker said.

He wouldn't say the day and time they identified as the busiest. But, he said that’s when the entire traffic unit will focus just on parking lots. They also met with people like Sam Patel’s nephew, who owns the Comfort Suites.

“It’s a huge, big, big problem," Patel said.

“If we’re patrolling their lot and we see someone idling, sitting in a car, then they’ve asked us, ‘Please, see why they’re there,’” Baker said.

Police said they didn't plan to write tickets but did want to spread the word that criminals should not make West Memphis a destination.

But Patel questioned if the force could do it.

“We understand they’re working hard but the city of West Memphis they need more police officers,” he said.

Police also worked with business owners to make changes like trimming shrubs and have employees consistently check the parking lot.