Forest Park reported nearly 200 fewer serious criminal offenses in 2014 than it did for 2013, according to the police department’s 2014 annual report, which was presented to the Forest Park Village Council on Monday.

The statistics come from the Uniform Crime Report submitted by the police department annually to the Illinois State Police, which show a total of 574 criminal offenses in 2014 versus 831 criminal offenses in 2013, a drop of 31 percent. 

The Uniform Crime Report, which all law enforcement agencies in the state compile annually, tracks the most serious violent and property crimes, including murder, sexual assault, robbery, battery/aggravated assault, burglary, theft, vehicle theft and arson.

Police reported 1,632 criminal complaints for 2014, down from 1,849 incidents in 2013. There were no murders reported in Forest Park in 2014.

Thirty-one motor vehicle thefts were reported in 2014, compared to 54 in 2013.

“Stealing cars just isn’t as popular as it used to be,” said Deputy Chief Tom Aftanas. “I’m not saying it doesn’t happen. If you leave your car running on the street, most likely someone is going to take it.”

Burglary incidents in Forest Park also decreased, with 70 reported in 2014 compared to 91 reported in 2013. Aftanas said a great number of burglaries reported in the village are burglaries to vehicles. Offenders will go from car to car and try the door handle to see if it’s unlocked, Aftanas said.

“It’s amazing how fast some of these crimes can occur — in a matter of seconds. Sometimes they can do six or seven cars on a block,” Aftanas said. “If they’re cooperative, they’ll say they just try car doors and even garage doors that are open instead of busting it down. because they don’t want to make any noise.” 

Two strings of car burglaries hit the south side of the village on Aug. 19 and Aug. 21, 2014, and two juveniles were arrested.

One of those juveniles, a 16-year-old from Maywood, was charged with seven counts of burglary and one count of attempted criminal trespass to a vehicle. Information on the other juvenile was not immediately available.

But, Forest Park did see an increase in sexual assault incidents in 2014. There were no sexual assaults reported in Forest Park in 2013, but there were six in 2014.

On June 10, 2014, officers arrested Chester White, 48 of Chicago, who allegedly attempted to sexually assault a woman at the CTA Harlem platform, 111 Circle Ave.

Oak Park resident Craig Mathis and Matt Cooley heard the woman scream and chased White until he was stopped by police.

Both men were honored at a city council meeting last year.

“They really helped that woman; thank God they did,” Aftanas said. 

Forest Park also saw a decrease in aggravated assault and battery incidents, with 19 in 2014 compared to 25 in 2013.

Aftanas said he’s not sure why that number decreased, but that a majority of those incidents were related to bar fights and fights at family parties.

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