COURTESY OF OAK PARK VILLAGE HALL
Jan. 22, 2014 - Oak Park's 2013 crime rate was the second lowest in the last 41 years, according to data compiled under the state's Uniform Crime Reporting Index released this week by the Police Department.
Police investigated 1,798 crimes in the Village in 2013, down 9 percent from the 1,967 crimes reported in 2012 and far below Oak Park's crime rates in the 1980s and 1990s that often were nearly double last year's rate. Thefts and burglaries represented nearly 90 percent of all 2013 crime.
"The 2013 crime statistics attest not only to the training, skill and dedication of the hard working men and women of our Police Department, but also to the community's support and active involvement," said Village Manager Cara Pavlicek. "Oak Park's focus on policing at the neighborhood level has created an effective crime-fighting partnership that is reflected in the data."
Echoing Pavlicek's remarks, Oak Park Police Chief Rick C. Tanksley added, "Our 2013 statistics demonstrate just how safe our community really is. As in past years, the majority of criminal activity in Oak Park continues to be property crimes such thefts and burglaries – most often garage burglaries."
Acknowledging that Oak Park data likely reflects the overall decline in crime nationally, Tanksley said he firmly believes that the combination of an engaged citizenry and professional, dedicated officers set Oak Park apart from other communities and has played a significant role in the declining local crime rate.
In addition, he said, the use of crime data analysis to identify and strategically address emerging trends has led to quick Police response times to calls for service and solving crimes at rates above the national average.
Burglaries and thefts continued to represent the vast majority of all crimes committed in Oak Park in 2013. These two categories alone comprised nearly 90 percent of all 2013 crimes, with garages as burglars' most frequent targets, Police say.
However, the 85 robberies reported in 2013 – down from the 99 reported in 2012 –were the lowest number of robberies since 1972, the earliest year for which comparable data are available, according to Tanksley.
Arrests were down in 2013, according to the data, likely reflecting the decline in the overall crime rate. Police made 224 arrests in 2013 compared to 296 in 2012. Nearly three quarters of the arrests were for burglaries, thefts and assaults.
Tanksley was quick to note that while the overall decline in the numbers at the bottom line of the crime statistics is significant, the perception of safety and addressing quality of life issues always is a concern.
"Even though crime has been declining overall and last year's decline is significant, the Police Department has never lost sight that each number represents a person who has encountered a criminal or criminal activity and may carry that encounter with them for the rest of their lives," Tanksley said.
"Whether the overall rate is at its second lowest level in years really doesn't mean a lot to a victim of a crime or if there's a continual nuisance in your neighborhood. That's why my officers, command staff and I continually strive to help residents feel safe by providing them the information they need to play an important role in our crime-fighting initiatives."
Here's a brief summary of crime in Oak Park during 2013:
- Thefts, typically crimes of opportunity, remained the single largest category of crimes reported in Oak Park. Some 1,148 thefts were reported in 2013, compared to 1,341 in 2012, a decrease of 14 percent.
- Burglary continued to be the second largest single crime category, with 460 cases reported in 2013, compared to 426 in 2012. In more than a third of the residential burglaries and nearly two-thirds of the garage burglaries entry was via an unlocked door or window.
- Robberies, a crime police say often affects the public's perception of safety, continued a trend evident over the past several years. Police investigated 85 robberies in 2013, compared to 99 in 2012, 107 in 2011 and 133 in 2010.
- No homicides occurred in 2013.
- Five criminal sexual assaults were reported in 2013, the same as in 2012. In all five cases the offender was known to the victim. In each case the victim either refused to cooperate with the investigation or there was insufficient evidence to prove a crime occurred as reported.
- Aggravated assault/battery cases were unchanged in 2013 from 2012, with 36. In the majority of these cases, offenders knew their victims.
- Five arsons were reported in 2013, up from three in 2012. In four of the five cases the affected party refused to cooperate. An arrest was made in the fifth incident.
- Police responded to 33,155 calls for service in 2013, compared to 33,521 in 2012. The average response time in 2013 was three minutes and 39 seconds for high priority calls; four minutes and 42 seconds for medium-priority calls such as accidents with no injuries; and six minutes and 20 seconds for low-priority calls
More information on Oak Park's community policing programs is posted on this website.