FOX13 Investigates: End-of-year Memphis homicide numbers not what they seem

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — FOX13 Investigates is looking at the homicide rate in Memphis after several murders in the last few days of the year.

The homicide rate in Memphis dropped about 13% from 2021 to 2022; there were still 302 homicides.

FOX13 Investigates checked back several years and found the homicide rate, while lower than in 2021, is still well above pre-pandemic levels.

The good news is violent crime is down overall in Memphis. But there was a staggering 20% increase in property crimes, which include burglaries, arsons, and car thefts, through the first nine months, according to the Memphis Shelby Crime Commission.

Commission John Gillespie, also a Republican state representative who represents East Memphis, said the spike in property crimes is cause for concern.

He said he was speaking on behalf of his constituents.

“The more (of) what some people would call petty property crimes, and the more those people get away with those through a variety of reasons than the likelihood of a situation going awry, and a murder being caused goes up significantly and I think that’s what we’re seeing now,” said Gillespie.

“If you rob someone at gunpoint five times and you don’t get in trouble for it sooner or later, you’re going to accidentally kill,” he said.

Gillespie said solutions to the crime issue include better schooling, opportunities at trade school, an investment in helping kids get to college, and more companies looking to hire kids from challenged communities.

The Memphis Police Department provided the following statement regarding crime in the city.

There is rarely a single cause for crime numbers increasing or decreasing. Therefore, the Memphis Police Department implemented several new crime suppression strategies in CY2022 (e.g., the Fugitive Unit, the SCORPION Unit, the Auto Theft Task Force, and the Gun Crimes Unit). Additionally, our COPS unit and our clergy worked proactively with community members to address various crime issues in their neighborhoods.

The increase in property crime is an issue affecting cities across the nation. With the treasure trove of information available online, criminals can easily access videos on social media platforms that give them step-by-step instructions to committing property-related crimes. A prime example is a video showing people how to steal a car using a USB cord. The auto theft crime category drove our crime increase during the year. Notwithstanding, Larceny often drives our overall crime totals.

We encourage our community to continue to work with us to create a safer Memphis by being vigilant and by calling 911 to report a crime. “If you see something, say something.” Please contact Crime Stoppers at 901-528-CASH if you have information that could help us solve a crime.