Residents reporting suspicious activities leads to crime drop


More residents are reporting suspicious activity, and that has contributed to a significant decrease this summer in the number of burglaries and robberies in the 16th (Jefferson Park) Police District, according to district commander William Looney.

"We’ve had fewer calls for service, (but) when they’re calling in, they’re calling in before the crime happens," Looney said after a recent meeting of the 16th District Advisory Committee.

Through July 31, the district received 51,902 calls for service compared to 52,906 during the same period in 2016, while the number of calls of a suspicious person or vehicle increased from 3,057 to 3,760, a 22-percent increase from last year.

Meanwhile, the number of reported burglaries from July 10 to Aug. 6 was 34 compared to 62 during the same period last year, and the number of robberies was six compared to 13 in 2016.

Looney said that "suspicious" calls not only help police catch suspects but prevent crimes, as the presence of police can scare away criminals. The number of burglary arrests this year in the district is 33, compared to 23 during the same period last year.

During a recent burglary, a neighbor saw suspicious persons carrying items out of an apartment but did not call 911 because she thought it also could be a tenant moving out, Looney said. In those situations it is best to call police, as officers can probably make a quick determination if a crime is occurring, he said.

Efforts by organizations to beautify their neighborhoods and to partner with the district on community initiatives helps create a climate in which residents are more likely to report suspicious activity and to talk to officers, Looney said.

The district recently launched a series of "faith and action" events that include an outdoor roll call at churches, including Storehouse Chicago at 5701 W. Montrose Ave. and Our Lady of Victory at 5212 W. Agatite Ave.

"This whole sense of community. I’m seeing it," said longtime advisory committee member Dale Tippett.

The recent decrease in service calls "gives us more time to do community stuff, which in the long run will help us," Looney said.

Also at the advisory committee meeting, Mike Gremo and Michael Laurie were honored as "Officer of the Month" for a May 30 arrest in connection with a report of a woman being beaten at an apartment in Jefferson Park. A stolen gun and a substance suspected of being cocaine reportedly were found at the residence, where a shooting incident occurred outside the building earlier this year, according to police.

It also was reported that the number of vehicle thefts in the past month was 38, one less than last year for the same period.