By Nona Tepper
Motor vehicle theft ballooned in Forest Park in 2017, while the overall number of criminal complaints increased only slightly, according to data from the FBI's annual Uniform Crime Reporting program.
Last year, 71 cars were stolen in Forest Park, compared to just 32 taken the year before. Officers arrested 15 people for car theft in 2017, as opposed to just one arrest in 2016.
Meanwhile, the total number of criminal complaints filed increased by 1 percent, with 2,270 complaints filed in 2017 compared to 2,243 the year before.
Traffic citations comprised the majority of complaints, with 1,732 filed in 2017, down 40 percent from 2,930 the year before. In an email, Police Chief Thomas Aftanas said the red light cameras at Roosevelt Road were temporarily shut down for six months during construction. Meanwhile, traffic crashes increased about 5 percent year over year, with 920 in 2017, and 879 in 2016.
Burglary, theft and robbery all decreased year over year. In 2017, police reported 59 burglaries, down 22 percent from 74 in 2016. An offender commits a burglary when they unlawfully enter a building with the intention of committing a crime.
Incidents of theft declined to 320 in 2017, down 24 percent from 423 in 2016. Police arrested 78 people in connection to thefts in 2017, down from 99 the year before.
There were also 33 robberies in 2017, down 30 percent from 23 incidents the year before. An offender commits a robbery when they take another's property by using person-to-person interaction with force, intimidation or coercion.
Overall, felony and misdemeanor arrests also declined year over year. In 2017, Forest Park police arrested 172 people for felonies, compared to 218 felony arrests in 2016.
Police arrested 598 people for misdemeanors in 2017, down 19 percent from 740 arrests in 2016.
Officers arrested and charged 18 people with aggravated assault and/or aggravated battery in 2017, compared to nine arrests the year prior. In 2017, there were 29 incidents of aggravated assault and/or aggravated battery, compared to 21 incidents in 2016.
The number of arrests made for violations of the Cannabis Control Act declined 30 percent year over year, to 56 in 2017 compared to 80 the year before. At a December Neighborhood Watch meeting, Aftanas said the department was switching its focus from cracking down on drug crime to carjacking.
An arrest was made concerning the one homicide in Forest Park in 2017. The Cook County State's Attorney's Office charged Nestor Soto, 38, of Forest Park with one count of first-degree murder in the stabbing death of 25-year-old Ivens Soto on Sept. 20.
Police discovered Ivens Soto's body inside a house on the 7700 block of Adams Street, which is owned by Nestor Soto and his wife. Nestor Soto was the owner and chef of The Whistle Pig, a barbeque restaurant in Chicago, according to a July 2017 article in the now-defunct DNAinfo.
Ivens Soto's Facebook profile identified him as a flight attendant for American Airlines.
There were no homicides in Forest Park in 2016.