Police officers offering Park Smart advice at area gas stations

Photo: WKRN

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Officers in one Nashville precinct are being proactive when it comes to dealing with the growing number of cars stolen each week.

“We are out here educating people about Park Smart, so don’t leave your car running, don’t leave your keys in the car, lock your car doors. Second, don’t leave your kids in the car,” explained Crime Prevention Officer Jessica Ware to one mother.

It happens every day, and two Madison officers want to stop it.

“It is really a nationwide issue, but here in Davidson County, the numbers are up a lot,” said Sgt. Henry Particelli.

Since the beginning of May, Particelli and Officer Ware have spoken to more than 900 people, and 10 percent of those left their keys in their car at Madison area gas stations.

“Recently, Davidson County was up almost 300 percent. On a weekly basis, they may be stealing 60 cars a week and 50 of them would be because the keys are left in them.”

Our cameras were rolling when officers spot several Thursday morning.

“If they steal your car, they are going to go break into houses and rob people.”

Every week, more and more cars are stolen in Nashville and unfortunately, a hot spot for these free cars are gas stations.

Sgt. Particelli told News 2 that if a stolen car is used in another crime, it creates extra challenges for investigators.

“It is harder to identify folks when you’ve got a stolen car. You don’t know the origin of it. It is kind of facilitating a crime.”

Bruce Jones takes his keys wherever he goes.

“It is a no brainer. Take the keys out, take the baby in the store with you, lock the car,” he said.

If not, he might end up in a tough spot, especially if that car is part of a second crime down the road.

“I would have to go through proving that I did not do it,” Jones told News 2.

Police say if you leave your car unattended and running, you face the risk of getting a ticket or jail time. However, they would rather let you know through initiatives like this so you can spread the word to more people.