Springtime Crime: Take steps to curb thefts from yards

When I first moved into the neighborhood, I was cocky. Having lived in Midtown for years and never having been the victim of a burglary or theft, I thought I was very knowledgeable about what would keep my new home, my yard and my belongings safe.

I was wrong.

My new house had a shed — a very sturdy and solid outbuilding. And though it didn’t have a lock, I figured out a way to jury-rig a long steel rope through a hole in the door and padlock it closed. Only a weasel could have weaseled their way into my shed, or so I thought. Then one day I went out to get my bike and, sure enough, it wasn’t there. The thieves managed to squeeze through the tiny space and clear out my tools and my bicycle. They actually took the time to disassemble the bike to get it out through the tiny opening, which showed a true commitment to innovation. I was not innovative enough.

Those ingenious thieves taught me my first lesson, and I’m learning more each year. So here are a few basic things I’ve discovered that everyone can do to increase security in yards, outbuildings and around the perimeter of a home:

  • First the obvious — lock up your tools and other outdoor items when not in use. Bikes, lawnmowers and portable grills can walk away in a matter of minutes.
  • Keep gates, garages and sheds locked and secured at all times.
  • Light every entrance to your property. Motion-detecting lights are great for the backyard.
  • Mark your belongings with your driver’s license number or some other distinguishing identification, should something ever be stolen. A UV pen is an inexpensive and invisible way to mark most items.
  • Put your camera phone to work and make a visual inventory of your tools and other outdoor furniture. Easier yet, make a 15-second video sweep of each side of your property and the interior of any outbuildings.
  • Keep shrubs and trees trimmed to maintain visibility to all doors and windows.
  • Plant prickly shrubs and plants near fences and windows.
  • Use gravel on paths and in flowerbeds, as the noise can be a good deterrent.
  • Bolt down or anchor large pieces — outdoor furniture, grills and garden decorations.
  • Maintain your fence. A six-foot fence is recommended for security purposes.
  • If you have an existing alarm system, check to see if your outbuildings can be covered as well.
  • Consider adding a dog or two to your family.


What to do if you have a problem or a theft:

  • Call the police! Every issue or crime must be reported. Documentation can help to establish patterns, determine where resources are needed and ultimately, put people away. Even if you are unsure about the details — the when, what, where, how, and who — be persistent and request that a written report be filed.
  • Report your problem to the CYCA office. Sometimes we can see recurring patterns and advocate accordingly.
  • Talk to your neighbors. See if anyone has seen or heard anything, or experienced something similar. If multiple households can make reports, the issue is that much more likely to get the attention it deserves.

– Sarah Frierson

Author: LampLighter

The voice of Cooper-Young, a vibrant, diverse neighborhood to live, work and play, in the heart of Midtown Memphis, Tennessee.

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