Memphis Walgreens Stores Using Classical Music To Deter Vagrants, Crime
NILES, IL - JUNE 4: Walgreens signage is displayed outside a Walgreens store June 4, 2003 in Niles, Illinois. Deerfield, Illinois-based Walgreen Co. had May sales of $2,812,924,000, an increase of 12.3 percent from the same month in 2002. Sales in comparable stores, those open at least a year, rose 8.1 percent and May pharmacy sales increased 14.6 percent, while comparable pharmacy sales rose 10.9 percent. Total prescriptions filled at comparable stores increased 4.8 percent. Walgreens also opened 27 stores during May, including five relocations, and closed one store. On May 31 the company operated 4,050 drugstores in 43 states and Puerto Rico, versus 3,766 a year ago.
(Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

To deal with vagrancy issues and petty crime, Walgreens stores in Memphis have installed speakers to loudly play classical music in the parking lot. 

The tactic, which has been used in Chicago and Los Angeles, is intended to deter loitering from homeless people and others, who sometimes harass customers. In Memphis, groups of about 10-15 people were loitering around in one of the Walgreens parking lots before the initiative was started, according to Fox13. 

“At various locations, we have implemented a recorded music loop that plays outside of the store to help deter loitering on the premises. We take steps to ensure the music is only loud enough for the immediate area around the store and cannot be heard by residents in surrounding neighborhoods,” Walgreens said

The music is being played at several Walgreens locations throughout the crime-plagued city through a mobile camera and speaker system. At one location, the music can be heard from across the street, WREG reported.

Some city residents have enjoyed the music while others have said that it gets annoying. 

“Everybody else listens to hip-hop, pop, rock and everything else,” Chris Worsham, who listens to the music while at his bus stop, told Fox13. “Classical? Yeah, I don’t think they’ll stick around too long and try to Memphis jerk on that.” 

Another person said that the music was getting annoying. “I thought, ‘Oh there is a band playing and they’re really good.’ Then, the next day, I was like, ‘They’re still playing.’ And later that night, they’re still playing,” said Cameron Cooley, who works nearby, said. “I understand why they are using the music, but it’s the same key all day, the same music. It can be a deterrent and it definitely deters me.”

Memphis has consistently ranked as one of the most dangerous cities in America, and has seen property and violent crime increase in the last year. Its murder rate is in the top ten worst in the U.S. 

The strategy for deterrence using classical music has also been used by Walgreens stores in Chicago and the Los Angeles Metro, which started playing classical music at a downtown subway station in April.

The Metro’s operations and security team worked with law enforcement to play symphonies, concertos, and piano sonatas by composers such as Beethoven, Mozart, and Vivaldi, in the Westlake/MacArthur Park Metro station starting in January. 

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