Concerns about gang activity at Portage Park, catalytic converter thefts expressed at 16th District’s ‘Community Conversation;’ additional input to be sought at Oct. 20 event at Branch Community Church
by BRIAN NADIG
Concerns about gang activity around Portage Park, 4100 N. Long Ave., and an increase in catalytic converter thefts were among the top issues discussed at the 16th (Jefferson Park) Police District’s Oct. 18 virtual “Community Conversation.”
Input from the event will be used to help formulate the district’s 2023 strategic plan. An in-person conversation will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20, at the Branch Community Church, 6125 W. Foster Ave.
At the Oct. 18 event, residents said that they would like to see an increase in police personnel to help combat gang activity in the south end of the district, especially at Portage Park, and to help deter thefts throughout the district.
Some residents also said that they would like foot patrols in their neighborhoods and that the district should continue to send officers to public events, such as chamber meetings, when staffing allows.
It also was recommended at the meeting that the district provide gang awareness education, as some event participants said that that would like to be able to recognize when graffiti and other criminal activity is gang-related.
The district is experiencing an overall 34 percent increase in reported serious crime this year, fueled in large part by a rise in catalytic converter and car thefts and burglaries.
Through Oct. 16 of this year compared to the same period in 2021, reported burglaries are up 34 percent from 203 to 273, overall thefts (non-car) up 44 percent from 571 to 820 and motor vehicle thefts up 53 percent from 214 to 327, according to police.
The district cautions residents not to leave their cars unattended with the keys in the ignition and not to confront catalytic converter thieves because they may have a gun. There were about 60 catalytic converter thefts reported in the district during the first 17 days of October.