Mon. Sep 25th, 2023

Fed up with rising crime, business owner leaves Memphis

by: April Thompson


MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Crime in Memphis has people fed up, but one man is so tired of it all, he is moving. WREG talked with the business owner who said for him, it’s the only solution.

Stephen Conn remembers the things that brought him to Memphis back in 2001.

“Growing up, my family visited down here. I loved Memphis,” Conn said. “Memphis was laid back and I love music and I’m single. I love going out. And Memphis just fit all that criteria.”

It’s why he started and grew his medical testing business off of American Way.

“The climate was great in Memphis to nurture and grow what we were doing,” Conn said.

Over the years, he said things changed.

“I got robbed actually behind the counter the first time where there was a gun involved and some, some kid with a hoodie and mask on,” Conn said. “I could see down the barrel of this gun right in my face. I mean, he wasn’t gonna miss if he pulled the trigger.”

That happened in 2007. In 2012, Conn became a victim of another crime.

“I stepped outside to get something out of my car, and there was a fellow right behind one of these columns just waiting for me, and he caught me from behind and I could feel he had a gun in his belt, and I could feel a pistol,” Conn said.

A year later, there was a similar assault.

“And so at that point, it was getting kind of numerous. Then I had family and friends mostly family who said dad, you need to get out of there, get out of that location, get out of that place,” he said.

He stayed and put up extra security. However, the crime didn’t stop.

“[I] had two more this summer. And that was just the tipping point for me,” Conn said. “The guy knocked me down out here in the parking lot and just was wailing on me with his fists. And I was convinced the next thing he was going to do was pull a gun or a knife.”

After 22 years, he is leaving Memphis for Franklin, Tennessee.  

“I needed to do something that would get me out of the line of fire, so to speak,” Conn said.

He said he’s seen too many cases of innocent people trying to help the city, become victims, like former Chamber leader Phil Trenary.

“He was the guy who was given the task of promoting Memphis and he got shot and killed one Friday night. Walking home,” Conn said.

Those who are pushing Memphis as a great place to live and visit don’t want people to give up.

On WREG’s Live at 9, the President of the Convention and Visitors Bureau Kevin Kane talked about the impact crime can have.

“Eventually people will make other choices. Fortunately, they haven’t done so yet,” Kane said.

Conn has made his choice. He just hopes Memphis gets a handle. 

“It would be nice to think that Memphis could return to all the cultural advantages and aspects that then I moved here for frankly, that the music, the food, the climate,” Conn said.

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