Historic crime lows reported in area burglaries, robberies


The fact that there were about 100 fewer burglaries reported in the 16th (Jefferson Park) Police District in 2014 than in the previous year helps in overall crime-fighting efforts, according to 16 District commander Roger Bay.

"That frees officers up to be out on active patrol to pursue more criminals," Bay said. A report of a burglary requires officers to canvass a neighborhood in search of witnesses and evidence, including video footage from nearby surveillance cameras, he said.

Final statistics for 2014 are not available, but the number of burglaries reported decreased from 719 in 2013 to about 615 in 2014. "We’re looking at the lowest number of burglaries since 1975," Bay said.

Also reaching near-historic lows in the district was the number of reported robberies, which decreased from 142 in 2013 to about 115 in 2014. The number of burglaries reported last year was about 300 fewer than in 1991.

One explanation for the decline in robberies and burglaries could be that the district and adjacent suburban agencies have been doing a good job of working together to catch offenders, Bay said. "We share information because criminals don’t care about borders," he said.

Two crime categories in which the district experienced an increase are murders, from four in 2013 to eight in 2014, and criminal sexual assaults, from 21 to about 40.

Arrests have been made in seven of the reported homicides, and in each of the incidents the victim and the suspect knew each other, Bay said. The only unsolved homicide involved a pizza delivery driver who was killed during a robbery in November.

Although figures are unavailable for some years, it is believed that the number of murders in the district last year tied the previous high, Bay said.

Nearly all of the reported sexual assaults were acquaintance-related, Bay said. He said the district is planning to increase its crisis intervention training in an effort to help officers better recognize victims of domestic abuse and offer them assistance.

Bay said that the district follows up with all victims of domestic violence. He said that in some instances a victim may initially refuse to seek an order of protection but may agree to do so later.

Bay also said that the number of motor vehicle thefts reported in 2014 was about 400, down from 509 in 2013 and 645 in 2012.

The district’s goals for this year include expanding its bike patrol program and having Cook County Forest Preserve District officers attend some of the beat meetings which cover neighborhoods next to forest preserve trails, Bay said.

Meanwhile, at the Dec. 16 meeting of the 16th District Advisory Committee, six officers were honored for their role in the arrest of three men who were charged in the murder of a homeless man, whose body was found on Oct. 14 in a dumpster in the 4800 block of North Avondale Avenue. The officers who received the district’s Officer of the Month Award are Peter White, Jimmy Xentaras, Nick Redelsperger, Eric Bellomy, Tom Surma and Mike Kaczynski.

Redelsperger and Bellomy recognized two of the suspects from surveillance footage of the fatal beating of the man, according to police. Police have described the suspects as partially homeless, as they reportedly would stay with relatives on some occasions.

One of the suspects was arrested at a computer lab which he was visiting at Wright College, and the other was apprehended after he was seen walking along a railroad embankment in Jefferson Park, police said. The third suspect was arrested by 18th (Near North) District officers.