Last month there was a string of four thefts of more than $300 that occurred in River Forest, just off Lake Street between Harlem and Keystone.

Visit, enter “River Forest” in the “Jump to City” box, select a date range that spans the month of December and see for yourself.

RAIDS (Regional Analysis & Information Data Sharing) is a virtual crime mapping tool that the River Forest Police Dept. began using this summer – one that will soon include crime data for Forest Park.

“We estimate that RAIDS should be fully functioning by the end of January,” Deputy Chief Tom Aftanas wrote in an email to the Forest Park Review. 

He said the department is currently working out some technical glitches.

Powered by Google Maps, RAIDS allows law enforcement agencies to virtually pinpoint crime. Such information allows police to spot geographic trends, efficiently identify new high-crime areas and police more efficiently.  

With information on, say, an area that has been a hotspot for theft – such as the aforementioned area near Lake Street – police can pinpoint that proximity, River Forest Police Detective Sgt. Marty Grill told The Wednesday Journal in October.

In a phone conversation with the Review, Grill conceded that a digital map isn’t necessary to identify well-known, high-crime areas. Instead, he said the River Forest Police Dept. is working to forecast crime.

“The goal has been to see crime trends through…a regional pattern,” Grill said.

By following a pattern of crime making its way towards River Forest, from another village, River Forest police will be better prepared to fight it, Grill said. 

What’s more, the police departments of Forest Park, Oak Park, River Forest, and Elmwood Park will use the new technology, and traditional communication, to enter into a four-village crime-fighting cooperative, dubbed FOREcast.

The concept was the brainchild of former River Forest police chief Frank Limon.

“The collaboration of all involved will assist each community with better tracking of crimes,” Aftanas wrote. “Criminals are not usually aware of geographic boundaries.”

RAIDS also provides the public a sense of inclusion. 

Residents can become a “citizen on patrol” and receive cell phone and email alerts when new crime data is posted.

When signing up for alerts, citizens can choose from a myriad of offenses to be notified of. They can also opt to be alerted to all of them, which range from shoplifting to homicide.

In addition, the frequency of the alerts and the geographic proximities can be tweaked.

RAIDS’s effectiveness is largely unknown at this point. There are only 37 municipalities nationwide that are utilizing the free service.

Grill was unable to provide crime statistics or an analysis stating that crime has dropped in River Forest since RAIDS was implemented. But, he told the Review that, based on what he has seen, he believes there has been a decrease.

He said he is uncertain if it has anything to do with RAIDS.

“We will have to monitor this program over a period of time, but overall it should enhance the on-going crime strategies that already exist,” Aftanas concluded.