It may be hard to believe, but people parking downtown are not locking their cars and crooks are seizing the opportunity to steal.
Metro police have a plan to kill the crimes with kindness.
Central Precinct police officers will be on foot patrol in the many parking lots and garages in downtown Nashville in an effort to stop auto burglaries.
The officers will be there to welcome visitors to downtown and also watch out for criminal activity.
"If you are a customer in a paid lot we want to approach you and say how are you doing," Central Precinct Commander Jason Reinbold said. "Then we will ask have you secured your vehicle and hid your valuables?"
He continued, "If you are not a paying customer we want to know what you are doing in that parking lot."
Commander Reinbold said car thieves often check door handles looking for cars left unlocked.
"It also gives us an opportunity to talk to people without knowing if they are bad guys or not and then if we determine they are bad guys we approach that from a different aspect," he said.
The commander also said the patrols give police a chance to foster a better relationship with the visiting public.
"We want to insure that when people come to town they know the police are approachable and that they can come to us if they have any needs," he said. "At the same time maybe we can provide them with the best place to eat or provide them directions to wherever they are trying to get to."
Visitors downtown were surprised that in the middle of Nashville's busiest places people would leave their things in an unlocked car.
"Being from Dallas you always check your surroundings and kind of check the area to make sure it is a good location," visitor Nathan Lawless said. "You are always supposed to lock up, hide stuff in the car or put it in the trunk."
Those are all steps in the Metro Police's Park Smart campaign.
The campaign started in 2000 raises awareness on the best way to make your vehicle an unattractive target for thieves.
The program also tracks the number of vehicle burglaries and thefts that involved vehicles left unlocked.
For the week of June 16 through June 22 of the 35 auto thefts, nine cars were left unlocked or with keys inside. That is 25.7%.
The week before it 41.3% of vehicles were left unlocked or with the keys inside.
Thursday, August 28 2014 3:28 PM EDT2014-08-28 19:28:07 GMT
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