Was it the warmer weather or an ominous sign of things to come?
Overall crime increased 11% in Chicago’s North Side and lakefront neighborhoods last month compared to January 2015, with most areas seeing significant increases in robberies and motor vehicle thefts. That’s according to CWB Chicago analysis of crime reports on the city’s official data portal.
Yet, narcotics reports plunged across the area, possibly due to a significant drop in police investigative street stops since the Chicago Police Department began requiring officers to document every stop with a two-page form.
Citywide, there were just 864 narcotics reports filed in January, down 62% from the 2,258 filed in January 2015.
Of the community areas that we analyzed, the Loop saw the greatest increase in crime last month—up a whopping 33%. Burglaries there soared 225%, criminal damage and motor vehicle thefts surged 100%, and robberies jumped 76%, according to city data.
But narcotics cases reported in the Loop dropped 50%.
Lakeview saw the second-greatest crime increase, with an 18.5% jump. Robberies increased 233%, motor vehicle theft rose 140%, and burglaries spiked 80%.
But, again, narcotics cases were down sharply in Lakeview last month—off 67% compared to January 2015.
Other areas that saw double-digit crime increases last month include Lincoln Park, up 15%; River North, up 11%; and Uptown, increasing 10%.
|Community Area||Crimes Reported January 2015||Crimes Reported January 2016||% Change||Leading increase(s)||Leading decrease(s)|
|Edgewater||153||160||4.58%||Motor vehicle theft up 150%; Battery up 135%; Robbery up 120%||Narcotics down 70%|
|Lakeview||373||442||18.50%||Robbery up 233%; Motor vehicle theft up 140%; Burglary up 80%||Narcotics down 67%|
|Lincoln Park||254||292||14.96%||Robbery up 89%; Motor vehicle theft up 75%||Criminal sexual assault down 100%|
|Lincoln Square||153||129||-15.69%||Robbery up 66%; Motor vehicle theft up 42%||Burglary down 70%; Narcotics down 63%|
|Logan Square||377||382||1.33%||Robbery up 100%||Burglary down 83%|
|Loop||527||706||33.97%||Burglary up 225%; Criminal damage up 100%; Motor vehicle theft up 100%; Robbery up 76%||Narcotics down 50%|
|North Center||112||97||-13.39%||Motor vehicle theft up 100%; 1 homicide vs. 0 last year||Assault down 66%; Theft down 48%; Robbery down 43%|
|River North||678||755||11.36%||Burglary up 100%; Criminal sexual assault up 150%; Criminal damage up 100%; Robbery up 50%||Prostitution down 67%; Narcotics down 53%|
|Rogers Park||287||285||-0.70%||Burglary up 81%; 2 homicides vs. 0 last year||Prostitution down 100%: Narcotics down 79%; Criminal damage down 30%|
|Uptown||238||262||10.08%||Burglary up 100%: Theft up 60%; Motor vehicle theft up 60%||Assault down 53%; Narcotics down 50%|
|Source: City of Chicago Data Portal Crimes 2001 to present|
Lincoln Square saw a nearly 16% drop in reported crime and North Center’s crime count was down 13%. Rogers Park remained statistically unchanged.
Reports of serious crimes increased across the board citywide last month:
• Homicides up 86%
• Robberies up 31%
• Aggravated batteries up 26%
• Auto thefts up 19%
• Burglaries up 11%
• Arson up 141%
Among the most serious crime categories, only criminal sexual assault saw a decrease in January, dropping 32%.
So is this all attributable to warmer weather? Time will tell. But former police superintendent Garry McCarthy repeatedly claimed that weather had nothing to do with crime reductions on his watch:
[McCarthy] refuted suggestions that the reason violent crime is down is because of the cooler weather this year, by pointing out that six shootings occurred on one of the days of flooding a few weeks ago.
“Weather is an influencer on crime. It’s not a cause, nor does it prevent crime,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy credits strategic policing, strong partnerships with community leaders, aldermen, clergy and residents for the decrease in violent crime, but insists a change in laws is necessary to make a more significant difference.
One wonders how McCarthy, had he not been fired, would explain January.