Crime down for fifth consecutive year, Skokie police say
Updated: March 8, 2013 6:13AM
Crime in Skokie decreased by six percent in 2012, marking the fifth year in a row that the village has seen a drop in incidents, according to new statistics from the Village of Skokie Police Department.
The village recorded a total of 4,572 incidents last year, down from 4,866 in 2011. That number dips below the five-year average of 5,149 total crimes per year, as well as the 20-year average of 5,209 annual offenses.
According to the preliminary data released on Jan. 30, cases of robbery and burglary were down by 8 and 13 percent, respectively.
Police Chief Anthony Scarpelli credited the national economy’s “slow but steady improvement” for the shrinking figures, along with recent changes to investigation and response procedures within the department.
“Of continued importance, though, is the public’s contribution by calling the police when they observe any unusual activity,” Scarpelli said in a written statement.
Village Manager Al Rigoni also acknowledged the cooperation between residents and officers as significant to the drop in crime, noting the successes of Skokie’s neighborhood watch program, of which there are currently 211 participating blocks.
The only category to see an increase in occurrences was sex offenses, which rose from 42 to 50 cases from 2011 to 2012.
Despite the reductions nearly across-the-board, not everyone was satisfied by the fresh data. In a letter to the Skokie Review published Jan. 31, village board candidate Lisa Lipin suggested that the numbers do not paint a complete picture of Skokie’s crime problems.
“Despite specific data, indicating that certain types of crime have significantly increased, the village officials continue to maintain that “overall” crime is down,” she said. She also cited data from the 2012 National Citizen Survey, which indicated an increase in Skokie residents “who don’t feel safe walking in their neighborhoods.”
Lipin pointed to a carjacking on Saturday, Jan. 26, in which a 58-year-old woman was attacked by a man with a knife outside of her home on the 4800 block of Carol Street, as proof that crime was still a formidable issue in the village.
Skokie Voice, the resident group formerly chaired by Lipin, recently published a five-year study on crime which found that serious cases were on the upswing in select areas.
In the release touting the decrease, Chief Scarpelli explained that crimes against individuals — down by 25 incidents in 2012 (not counting domestic offenses) — sometimes attracted a disproportionate amount of attention.
“These offenses garner more publicity, which possibly contributes to a misperception that overall crime is rising in the community,” he said.
The police data also said that theft has decreased by 2 percent and motor vehicle theft dropped by 14 percent since 2011.