Feb. 25, 2013 - An increase in burglaries and thefts bumped up Oak Park’s crime rate in 2012, but robberies, a crime police say can have a significant impact on the public’s perception of safety, were at the lowest level in the past three years.
Arrests also were up in 2012 as compared to 2011, as police closed significantly more cases.
Oak Park Police investigated 202 more crimes in 2012 than in 2011. The 1,959 crimes reported in 2012 were up about 11 percent over the 1,757 reported in 2011, which was the lowest annual crime rate on the books. Despite the slight increase, the 2012 crime rate still ranks as the third lowest since the Police Department began keeping uniform statistics.
The increase in crimes committed here in 2012 came almost entirely from burglaries and thefts, crimes police say are often more about opportunity such as unlocked garage doors and unattended personal belongings. The 1,339 thefts and 424 burglaries represented nearly 90 percent of all crimes reported in Oak Park in 2012, a statistic that has varied little over the years, according to police.
Police made 291 arrests in 2012, compared to 205 in 2011, an increase of nearly 42 percent. The majority of arrests were for thefts and burglaries.
The Oak Park data was compiled under the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting index, a system used by law enforcement agencies to collect and report statistics, with a focus on what are considered the most serious offenses – murder, criminal sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault/battery, burglary, theft, motor vehicle theft and arson.
Below is a brief summary of crime in Oak Park during 2012:
- Thefts, typically crimes of opportunity, remained the single largest category of crimes reported in Oak Park. Some 1,339 thefts were reported in 2012, compared to 1,176 in 2011, an increase of 14 percent. Thefts ranged from unattended cell phones and laptop computers to items removed from gym lockers, wallets/purses stolen in restaurants and packages left on front porches. Bicycles remained a favorite of thieves, with some 238 stolen in 2012.
- Burglary continued to be the second largest single crime category, with 424 cases reported in 2012, compared to 376 in 2011, representing a 13 percent increase. Nearly half of the 2012 burglaries – 204 – were residential burglaries and 128 were garage burglaries. Of the residential burglaries, 94 were to apartments and 110 to single-family homes. In 34 of the residential burglaries, entry was made through an unlocked window or door. Of the 128 garage burglaries, in 101 – or 78 percent of the incidents – thieves entered through an open or unlocked side or overhead door.
- Robberies, a crime police say often affects the public’s perception of safety, were at the lowest levels in the past three years. Police investigated 97 robberies in 2012, compared to 106 in 2011, 133 in 2010 and 142 in 2009.
- Two homicides occurred in 2012 – one on Austin Boulevard at Chicago Avenue believed to be Chicago gang related and one at Oak Park Health Care Center, 625 N. Harlem Ave. An arrest was made in the second case, which was the result of fight between two patients at the facility.
- Five criminal sexual assaults were reported in 2012, compared to four in 2011. In two of the cases, the offender was known to the victim.
- Thirty four aggravated assault/battery cases were reported in 2012, compared to 24 in 2011. In 14 of the cases, the offender was known to the victim.
- Three arsons were reported in 2012, up from two in 2011. The fire at the Velvet Rope Ultra Lounge, 728 Lake St., was the most notable in 2012. The Department is working with the Cook County State Attorney’s Office on a resolution.
- Police arrested 115 motorists for driving under the influence, up from 111 in 2011. Another 319 arrests were made in 2012 for suspended licenses, compared to 226 in 2011, a 41 percent increase.
- Police responded to 33,521 calls for service in 2012, compared to 35,431 in 2011. The average response time in 2012 was three minutes and 35 seconds for high priority calls; four minutes and 44 seconds for medium-priority calls such as accidents with no injuries; and six minutes and 22 seconds for low-priority calls.