Tips: Be safe at Music Fest weekend

Music Fest is approaching, and there are going to be people swarming into Tom Lee Park, Beale Street, and the surrounding areas. Attendees are going to be thinking about music, the drink in their hand, friends… everything but safety. Please take a minute to read these tips to keep yourself and your belongings safe.

Ladies, keep your purses in sight at all times. Last week, I observed a woman sitting on a couch at a Downtown bar place her purse to her left, on the couch’s arm. Then she proceeded to turn to her back on the purse, to her right, and chat with her friends. “I could walk by and grab that purse and she’d never know it,” I thought. Place your purse on your lap, the table in front of you… anywhere where you can keep your eye on it.

Be careful about walking around with your phone placed in an open purse. Phone-snatchings have picked up lately. I know someone who had her iPhone taken out of her purse, which was on her arm, as she was in line waiting to get into a Beale Street nightclub. She was none the wiser until the thief was long gone. I know it’s inconvenient to zip the phone up, but it’s worth it to keep safe.

If you leave valuable belongings with friends, make sure they will watch them until you get back. Another friend of mine left her camera with people she’d met at a nightclub for a minute while she went next door. Those people didn’t know they were supposed to watch it, or didn’t care, because when they came back the camera was gone. If it’s valuable enough to steal, it’s valuable enough to keep on your person at all times.

Don’t place phones and cameras on window ledges or on patio tables within grabbing distance from the street. People place iPhones on window ledges and patio tables next to their drink, then turn around and talk to friends. If you watch the bums walk by, you’ll see them scanning the ledges to see what they can pick up. Keep your phone in your pocket or purse, or on a table more than arm’s length away.

Stow it, don’t show it. You may know your suitcase or backpack is empty, but the bad guys don’t. Do not leave anything of value (or anything that could potentially contain something of value) in your unattended car. I don’t mean just expensive items, but any items at all. That CD or couple dollars in change may seem inconsquential to you, but to the bad guys it’s funding toward the purchase of their next crack rock, worth smashing a window.

Do not go anywhere that is not well-lit and crowded with people you don’t know. Be very suspicious of anyone who comes up to you and offers to be a tour guide, unless they are the official Blue Suede Brigade employed by the CCC (look for the safari hats and white shirts). “Tour guide” is a common panhandler scam down here.

Do not take shortcuts through alleys. I know it’s late, I know you’re tired, but don’t do it. Stay on well-lit thoroughfares like Main, Union, Peabody Place, Beale, and Second.

Please don’t let this advice scare you. I’ve been down here nine years, I walk around alone all hours of the day and night, and I have never had a problem. Downtown is statistically the safest area of the city. However, any festival where a large crowd of people gathers presents an opportunity for criminals. Follow the precautions above and you should be just fine. Have fun at Music Fest, and if you have any questions or concerns e-mail me at