Which crimes increased, which decreased in the suburbs in 2020

Of the 81 suburban police departments, about half reported more violent crimes, including murder, rape, robbery and assault in 2020, compared to the annual average for the previous 10 years.

Property crimes, such as arson, burglaries, theft and motor vehicle theft, are down from the 10-year average in nearly three-quarters of these departments’ reports.

This is despite a deluge of identity theft complaints that many departments have received due to unemployment benefit scams that have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.

From 2010 to 2019, the 81 suburban departments reported an average of 2,558 violent crimes per year, but they handled 2,670 combined crimes in 2020. This is the most in a single year since 2011.

These departments reported an average of 32,773 property crimes per year over the past decade, but they recorded 28,172 property crimes last year.

This is according to a Daily Herald analysis of Uniform Crime Reports recently published by the FBI.

“It probably would have been a lot lower, but we had a massive spike in identity theft complaints (Illinois Department of Employment Security) to explain what we saw,” the chief said. Northbrook Police Assistant Mike Metrick on the property crime count. “It has become such a frequent report that we created our own unique model for it, and of the 641 cases of identity theft we handled last year, 98% were from it.”

Naperville Police said they processed 729 IDES-related identity theft complaints in December 2020 alone.

“Otherwise our number of cases would also be down,” said Cmdr. Michau Williams.

IDES officials said they handled more than 2 million such complaints throughout the pandemic.

“If a person claims to have received a notice that an unemployment claim has been filed in their name and that they did not apply for benefits, the unemployment claim is stopped,” the spokesperson said. word of IDES, William Gomberg. “IDES has stopped over 2 million fraudulent claims through the use of reporting tools, data analytics and identity verification assets. Identity theft perpetrator investigations are managed by the police, with the cooperation of IDES. “

The figures for Wheaton and Lake Zurich have also increased because of these scams. But this did not happen in all the suburbs.

“We also had a few, but we were asked to pass them on to the federal government and the attorney general’s office,” Campton Hills Police Chief Steven Millar said. “That’s why they’re not on our report.”

Campton Hills, a department of eight sworn officers, reported a single violent crime in 2020 – a robbery – and only three property crimes.

While Campton Hills has rarely dealt with violent crime over the years, Millar notes a steady decline in property crime over the past decade, which he attributes to programs his department has put in place to help prevent burglaries. residential and car break-ins.

“We cover 20 square miles and over 100 road miles,” he said. “We have a lot of accidents that we deal with, and our residents want their own police department. They don’t want to have to wait 30 minutes for a sheriff’s deputy to show up.”

Statistical criticism

Millar believes that the consistent crime statistics don’t show the full extent of a police service’s value to the community, and he’s not the only critic of the annual reports.

“Frankly, the main problem with (this) in terms of usefulness to both law enforcement and research is how spurious the data is,” said Richard Rosenfeld, professor of criminology at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and former director of the American Society of Criminology. “We’re 10 and a half months into 2021 and we’re just getting numbers for 2020, and as we know crime rates can go up and down pretty sharply.”

And just as some departments have chosen to include IDES-related identity theft complaints in their annual figures while others have not, there are many other gaps in data collection. in those reports, Rosenfeld noted.

Important research indicates that many crimes, both violent and non-violent, go unreported to police.

“The public should always be reminded that these reports are only crimes known to law enforcement,” he said.

He also noted that the FBI’s “hierarchical rule” of reporting crimes creates a data hole.

For example, if a murder is committed during a robbery that also includes arson. Often times, theft and arson will not be included in the statistics because the FBI requires that only murder be recorded as it is “the most serious crime in a case,” according to the FBI.

The reports also do not show a department’s arrest clearance rate.

In some cases, the police say the data is just plain wrong.

The Bensenville and Round Lake Beach Police Department admitted that the figures reported on the FBI website were incorrect. In Bensenville’s case, the numbers appear to have been entered incorrectly at some point between the department’s report to the state and the state’s upload of the information to the FBI. Bensenville police officials have provided the Daily Herald with figures the department reported for 2020.

At Round Lake Beach, Deputy Chief Wayne Wilde blamed the error on “a change in our records management system vendor,” but said a remedy was underway.

Next year, the FBI will switch to a new system called NIBRS, the National Incident-Based Reporting System, which will take into account all charges in a case and provide more details on types of crimes, relationships between victims and the offenders and the circumstances of the crimes.

Pandemic changes

Police officers use FBI data to develop policing strategies in communities. But many recognize that the pandemic has changed the way criminals operate.

Home burglaries have declined dramatically, as have motor vehicle thefts, but thefts and carjackings have increased.

“We have created an entire task force in several surrounding counties due to the increase in car hijackings,” said Wheaton Deputy Police Chief Bob Miller. “It’s not just a Chicago problem. We’ve seen some of them target cars and follow those people to their homes.”

Lisle Police Chief Ron Wilke said each police department has seen a change in the types of crime to some extent.

“Most of our break-ins have been reported during the day, but when the pandemic has happened with more people at home, there is no longer that opportunity, and it would have something to do with the reduction,” did he declare.

And while Lisle has seen an increase in violent crime in 2020, Wilke doesn’t think it’s because criminals have become more brazen, but rather because of a wave of bad luck.

“There have been six to eight months where we all shook our heads and wondered what was to come next,” he said.

A shootout that killed one and injured two others at a village cigar bar in January 2020 was one such crime that accounted for several of the department’s 26 violent crimes reported in the 2020 report.

“Murders and shootings are an anomaly for us here,” Wilke said. “And as you know, if you look at how each department reports things, you won’t always see things going the same way. But I want there to be as clear a picture as possible.”

State, national statistics

At the state and national levels, crimes are reported on a per capita basis. In 2020, 384 violent crimes were reported per 100,000 people nationwide. In Illinois, it was 415 per 100,000.

Nationally, the violent crime rate increased 3.8% in 2020 compared to the annual average for the previous 10 years. In Illinois, this is an increase of 2.7%.

For property crimes, 2020 saw a 23.8% decline nationwide from the annual average between 2010 and 2019, and an almost 30% drop in Illinois from that average over 10 years.

Chicago reported an increase in violent crime as of 2019, but the figure of 26,583 violent crimes in 2020 is down 1% from the annual average for the previous 10 years.

Chicago Police officials also reported an almost 38% drop in property crime from the 10-year average in 2020.

About Marion Browning

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