Watch Out: Cooper-Young residents revive neighborhood watch program

Watch WEBEfforts have been underway since early December to revamp the Neighborhood Watch program in Cooper-Young. Organized in the early 70’s by the National Sheriffs’ Association, Neighborhood Watch is a “crime prevention program that stresses education and common sense. It teaches citizens how to help themselves by identifying and reporting suspicious activity in their neighborhoods.”

The Cooper-Young Neighborhood Watch was formally recognized at its first official meeting on January 6th. So far, organization and communication has been primarily through the Nextdoor social media site, accessible online at and through apps. However, these efforts will naturally expand as more people come on board and provide the necessary manpower. Anyone with a vested interest in Cooper-Young — residents, property owners, business owners, etc. — is invited and encouraged to participate.

The next meeting is Wednesday, February 3rd, 6:30 p.m. at Memphis Made Brewing Company (768 S. Cooper at the southwest corner of Cooper and York.) The main topic of discussion will be how to best utilize the city Neighborhood Crime Prevention Grant funds we are working to secure for 2016. We need as many folks as possible to come out in support of this effort. Light refreshments will be available.

For more information about CYNW, to sign up, keep current on progress, and learn how you can help, visit

For more on Neighborhood Watch, visit

To track crime statistics and receive email updates directly from MPD, visit:

— Aaron James

Simple measures can make Cooper-Young safer for everyone

By Jason Whitworth

Nobody wants to think about crime — until you become a victim. Then it becomes hard to shake off that feeling of being violated. Lately, Cooper-Young has been beset by petty thefts IN yards and outbuildings and even serious home-invasion burglaries. We should all be thankful that concerned neighbors have cranked back up a Cooper-Young Neighborhood Watch program. For every crime that can be prevented, one less family will have to experience that sense of vulnerability inside their own home.

It is not a pleasant experience. When I first moved here in the ’90s, living in Midtown was described as a “contact sport.” I learned quickly. Right away an extension ladder vanished from my backyard; then my bicycle; and then some furniture I built for my front porch. Then I discovered that the “walkabout” day laborer who was helping remodel my house and detail my truck every weekend was stealing me blind. At first, I was hurt and angry, but I quickly adjusted by learning how not to be an easy target. After doing a few simple things to better secure my property, I made it close to fifteen years without another incident and ended up very happy with my decision to become a part of Cooper-Young.

Crime has recently returned to Cooper-Young in a significant way. I knew Aaron James and others were rallying troops to restart a neighborhood watch but frankly did not get excited until someone smashed the hasp off my back gate, leaving my property exposed. Fortunately, I knew there was no reason to despair. We are not helpless. There are a number of things that you can do to avoid being a victim.

Be extremely wary of allowing the “walkabouts” into your yard or home. That person that wanted to rake your leaves or detail your car may well come back later and clean out your garden shed. The guy that begged to paint a room may return when you’re not at home now that he knows exactly what to take. If turning away people desperate for work sounds harsh, well it is. Nobody loves to help people in need more than I do. But the fact remains that bringing them onto your property significantly increases your risk of theft and/or burglary.

Harden your defenses. Keep your house and automobiles locked at all times. Think seriously about investing in decorative security doors. Storm windows provide extra protection, not to mention significant energy savings. (I refuse to put metal bars on windows because it looks terrible.) You should have a strong fence and gate to keep unwanted persons out of your back yard. If the padlock is outside your gate, invest in a better lock. On YouTube a guy picks various Masterlocks with a zip tie, cat food lid, and bamboo skewer to demonstrate how easy it is. Lock up your workshop and garden sheds. Bolt down your porch furniture. (My yellow Adirondack chairs are pinned to the concrete with masonry anchors and steel cable. I once woke to find them at the bottom of the steps where a thief dropped them when he ran out of cable)

Install motion-detector lights around the house and leave your front porch light on at night for deterrence. Don’t leave valuables out in sight in your yard or vehicle. You might want to mount some fake security cameras. I firmly believe the most successful anti-theft measure is a territorial, possessive dog that barks at strangers. (My crime problem stopped in the ’90s when I got a Jack Russell Terrier who barked furiously at strangers.) If you do these rather simple things, you can significantly reduce your chances of being a victim of theft or burglary.

If you want to go the extra mile, there are reasonably priced security cameras available that will record trespassers. If you have reason to suspect someone may return, you can put up a game camera. They are simple to use and produce fantastic pictures. Or if you really want to splurge, you can subscribe to a security service. I have enough monthly bills coming in already.

Beware of vacant homes and/or alleys near your home. There are numerous reports of criminals entering backyards from the alleys. Fix your fence up good and tight. Vacant houses are magnets for ne’er-do-wells. The abandoned house behind me enabled a criminal to access my backyard unseen. Report dilapidated, vacant houses to Code Enforcement if there appear to be violations. Pressure the owners to do something with them.

Keep a close eye out for what is going on in the neighborhood. There is a TON of foot traffic on my stretch of Young. Many years ago, I stood in my front yard and took pictures of someone I suspected was selling drugs in front of the school. Get to know your neighbors and keep a close eye on their houses. Get their contact information in case you need to contact them. Get on and learn who is who. Agree to be a block captain for the Cooper Young Neighborhood Watch ( Go to meetings and make suggestions. If nothing else, use this as an excuse to get out and meet some neighbors. Get to know local law enforcement ahead of time so they will be more responsive when you need them. I don’t plan on rolling over because of this and neither should you.

If you are the victim of a crime, then be sure to report it to the Memphis Police Department ( Yes, it is an aggravation and there is not much probability of getting your stuff back, but police manpower is allocated based on crime reports, so more reports can help bring about more frequent patrols, which can benefit the next person.

Jason G. Whitworth is a local civil litigation attorney (, handling claims for injury, wrongful death, insurance denial, worker’s compensation, commercial business, and other disputes. He can be reached at (901) 729-9999 or]

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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