Increase in 2019 homicides reported in 16th District, but overall crime decreases
by BRIAN NADIG
The 16th (Jefferson Park) Police District had more murders in 2019 than in the past 20 years but experienced significant drops in several other crime categories last year, according to crime statistics.
Serious crime in the district has declined by 18 percent, with 1,528 reported incidents last year compared to 1,874 in 2018. The decrease is almost 30 percent lower when compared to 2016.
There also were 14 incidents of people being shot in 2019 compared to 18 the previous year, and the largest decrease – 31 percent – occurred in the number of burglaries, with 355 in 2019 compared to 515 in 2018.
District officials have attributed part of the burglary decline to suspects being arrested as the result of targeted missions in problematic areas. During one incident this fall, officers apprehended several would-be burglars who were checking car handles of parked vehicles.
The number of reported robberies has also dropped to 93 last year from 125 in 2018.
One category that remained almost unchanged was the number of stolen motor vehicles, with 381 in 2019 compared to 390 in 2018. On social media, the district has been urging residents not to keep their cars unoccupied and with the engine running, as in late December three cars were stolen while the owner went inside a store.
In addition, the number of aggravated batteries decreased to 97 last year from 116 in 2018, but the number of criminal sexual assaults in 2019 was 64, five higher than in the previous year.
Meanwhile, the last four months of 2019 were marked by 10 homicides in the district, the highest number in recent memory. There were two homicides reported in 2018.
Arrests were made in connection with six of the incidents, including a man accused of fatally shooting five tenants in an apartment building where he also lived in the 6700 block of West Irving Park Road and a cook who fatally stabbed a co-worker at a restaurant in the 5000 block of Irving Park Road. In both incidents, the suspects were arrested and charged with murder.
Officers Gloria Haro and Mercedes Little were recently presented with the district’s "Officer of the Month" award for their arrest of the man who was charged with five counts of first-degree homicide in the incident on Irving Park Road. A picture from an awards ceremony is on page 5.
District commander Maureen Biggane said that the officers demonstrated a high level of professionalism given the horrific act of violence that they came across. She said that the two officers were the first to arrive at the apartment building.
Biggane said that the other four homicides are being investigated and that police are looking into the possibility that all four killings were targeted rather than random incidents.
In one incident a man was fatally shot while driving in the 5100 block of West Belmont Avenue, and in a separate incident a man was shot while driving in the 4000 block of North Narragansett Avenue.
A man also was fatally stabbed during a fight in the 5300 block of Irving Park, and anther was found dead of gunshot wounds inside his apartment in the 7300 block of North Harlem Avenue.