MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Officials are warning people to be extra careful and take precautions as car thefts increase across the Bluff City, especially around the holidays.

But there’s also work being done by Memphis Police to try and make a difference. They said being kind to a stranger can pay off and, in this case, provide some protection too.

Memphis Police officers Christopher Smith and Kanesha Washington were wrapping up a call off Germantown Parkway when they saw Doris Jones, who works in the floral department at Kroger.

“I saw Ms. Jones, she had a big smile, had a very pleasant aura about her. She said Merry Christmas, I said Merry Christmas back. She said ‘be careful,'” Smith said.

Ms. Jones said she didn’t think too much of the comment. 

“In the eye of an official we try to be nice we say, ‘be careful, have a Merry Christmas.’ It was just what we do,” she said.

But that wasn’t the end of the conversation.

“We had been tasked that morning in role call to try to spread the word and get awareness out about motor vehicle thefts,” Smith said.

Smith’s colonel had given officers a wheel lock and a holiday card to give to someone in the community. In the seconds it takes to say “Merry Christmas”, Smith found his person.

“Ms. Jones just inspired me to wanna do it so I asked her to step outside with us, without handcuffs. At her own, free will,” he said with a laugh. “I asked her what kind of car she drove and she said an old one.”

The officers showed Ms. Jones how to use the wheel lock and snapped a selfie. Jones said she is thankful to the officers.

For officer Washington, it was her first day on the job. She’s now inspired.

“As I was telling her earlier you know it did make us feel proud especially for her with so much going on you know we want to bring positive things,” Washington said.

Positive acts they hope to continue. 

“I just felt really good. You know she made me feel really good and inspired me to want to act,” Smith said.

“We just have a lot of victims in the city and if we can do anything to lessen the number then that’s all we can do,” Jones said.

Memphis Police said they are working to get more wheel locks to give out. As soon as they have a giveaway planned, we will let you know.