Covert tactics lead to decrease in crime
by BRIAN NADIG
The use of a covert car as part of targeted police missions is one of the reasons that the 16th (Jefferson Park) District has experienced reductions in burglaries and robberies so far in 2019, according to district commander Maureen Biggane.
The number of reported burglaries in the district in 2019 through Feb. 28 was 53 compared to 113 in the first 2 months of last year, representing the lowest number for the time period since the year 2000, Biggane said. In February, there were 20 reported burglaries compared to 51 during the same month in 2018, a 61 percent reduction, she said.
A covert car, which has no identifiable police markings, was stationed in Edgebrook on Feb. 14 when a woman reported seeing two white men in their 20s or 30s break into a home in the 5900 block of North Louise Avenue, Biggane said. The covert car had been assigned to the area after a burglary on Feb. 13 in the 6000 block of North Landers Avenue, and in both incidents entry was gained by breaking down the front door, she said.
The covert car and a tactical unit vehicle responded to the Feb. 14 burglary, but for safety purposes officers eventually had to stop their pursuit after the getaway vehicle entered the Edens Expressway. The vehicle, described as a silver Mitsubishi Endeavor, had an Indiana temporary license plate, which did not belong to that vehicle.
This pattern of burglaries has since stopped, Biggane said. "They’re very aware we are aware of them," she said.
Meanwhile, the number of reported robberies in the district through Feb. 28 was nine compared to 33 for the same period last year, representing a 73 percent reduction.
Biggane said that an Area North bike team had been assigned to the district for 3 weeks, providing a more visible police presence and acting as a deterrent. She added that seatbelt and traffic missions are being conducted in neighborhoods where robberies have been a concern.
The district also experienced a reduction in the number of reported vehicle thefts in February, down from 34 in 2018 to 23. Many of the thefts occurred after the owners had left their vehicles unattended while the engines were warming up, Biggane said.
The district also has four license plate reader devices and is expected to receive three more, Biggane said. The readers have recently informed patrol officers of reported stolen vehicles parked in the 4900 block of West Cuyler Avenue and in the 6100 block of West Eddy Street.
So far the crime reduction trends have carried over to the first week of March, Biggane said.
"We will continue with focused missions and education campaigns to keep this momentum going," she said. "I believe the success is a direct reflection of our officers’ commitment to the community."