Forest Park Police Department’s year-end statistics show that commercial and apartment storage unit burglaries, robberies and aggravated assault/batteries increased during the past year in the village. Police statistics were presented in a report at the village council meeting on Jan. 23. Overall, comparing the past ten years of Illinois State Police statistics, the incidences of reported crime in Forest Park seem to have dipped in 2010 and then floated back up in 2011.
Specifically, ten commercial burglaries took place in 2011, up from six in 2010. Two storage unit burglaries were reported in 2010; that rose to 14 in 2011. Police say a man, captured on videotape but never arrested, stole high-end 10-speed bicycles from nine storage units during 2011.
“Then he disappeared,” said Detective Cmdr. Michael Keating.
Residential burglaries increased only slightly from 46 in 2010 to 50 in 2011 and garage burglaries remained constant at 14. The police reported 10 burglary arrests in 2011, up from nine in 2010.
The village’s location close to the I-290 expressway and with the terminus of two el lines makes Forest Park easy to enter and exit by burglars and people looking for fast money, according to Keating. He credited some of the local crime increases to more aggressive policing of the drug trade in Chicago. “If they’re curbing the drug trade in Chicago, these people are going to spread out into other ventures [like burglary and cellphone snatching]” he said.
Robberies also increased, from 20 incidents in 2010 to 31 in 2011. Police reported nine robbery arrests in 2011, down from 10 in 2010. However, Police Chief Jim Ryan pointed out that many of the robberies were purse- or electronic-device-snatchings and many occurred on the CTA when trains passed into Forest Park.
“We’re not getting armed robberies,” he said.
Among the commercial burglaries last year were two similar events at Suburban Liquors, 7612 Madison St., where thieves hurled objects through the store windows around 5 a.m. and grabbed liquor, cigarettes and lottery tickets before fleeing on Sept. 10 and again on Oct. 28.
Police also recorded a rise in aggravated assault-and-battery charges, which almost tripled from 11 in 2010 to 28 in 2012. Ryan said that while there are always bar fights on Madison Street, he’s seen an increase in domestic assault incidents, often with more violent altercations than previous years. In 2010 there were 65 reported domestic incidents with 23 arrests, and in 2011 police responded to 79 reported incidents with 30 arrests, said Keating.
Big-box retail shoplifting makes the theft-rate in Forest Park significantly higher than other local offenses. But reported thefts dropped from 555 in 2010 to 538 in 2011, a decrease of 17 incidents. There were 60 fewer arrests for thefts – 301 in 2010 compared to 241 in 2011.
Six criminal sexual assaults were reported last year, as opposed to four in 2010. Also, drug arrests dropped from 52 in 2010 to 44 in 2011. Drug paraphernalia arrests fell by 10 incidents from 29 in 2010 to 19 in 2011. Cannabis possession violations decreased by five from 83 in 2010 to 78 in 2011.
Although police statistics show increases in certain categories of crimes, police point out that compared to neighboring communities, Forest Park criminal incidents are still low. Neighboring Oak Park, for example, reported 376 burglaries in 2011 and 106 robberies, some with weapons.
“[Forest Park has] a smaller residential area, even though we have many access points to the village,” said Keating, adding that the department relies on a “saturation” of patrol cars. “We try to be really visible so bad guys can see us.”