Oak Park robberies nearly double in 2017

Spike driven in part by nearly fourfold increase in carjackings

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

Oak Park police are reporting that crime increased another 2 percent in 2017, the same as the year before, while robberies nearly doubled from the year prior.

According to data from the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting Program, robberies reported in the village jumped to 134 in 2017, up from the 68 reported in 2016.

A village press release notes that the increase in robberies is due in part to a spike in carjackings over the last year.

Police investigated 15 carjackings last year and four attempted carjackings. That's compared to four carjackings and one attempted carjacking in 2016.

Police noted that 10 people were arrested in connection with the 2017 carjackings.

Burglaries dropped to 311 cases in 2017, compared to 360 the year prior, and thefts also dropped slightly year-over-year to 1,035 from 1,057 in 2016. Police noted the press release that burglaries and thefts historically represent 80 percent of the crime in Oak Park. They attributed the drop to "residents who are locking doors and windows and properly securing their belongings."

Oak Park Police Chief Anthony Ambrose noted in the press release that the 2 percent uptick in crime overall shows that Oak Park "is a very safe place to live, work and raise a family."

"I hope these numbers will provide some reassurance to residents in the community whose perception of crime in Oak Park may have been affected by the news reports and social media posts of events here and across the area," Ambrose said.

He said that while the crime rate remains historically low, Ambrose acknowledged that the jump in robberies is troubling.

"I know that statistics mean little to a victim who has come face-to-face with a criminal, which is why fighting these types of crimes is the number one priority of the Oak Park Police Department," Ambrose said.

A combined 1,635 crimes were reported in 2017, up from 1,605 one year earlier and 1,568 in 2015. Crimes reported in 2017 were down from the 1,665 reported in 2014, police noted.

Police arrested 188 people suspected of committing serious crimes in 2017, 43 for driving under the influence and 10 for drug violations.

Two homicides were committed in 2017, the first since 2012. Two arsons were reported last year, compared to three in the previous year.

The police were called out on 67,580 incidents in 2017, up from 65,830 the previous year.

Email: tim@oakpark.com

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