Police in the Lakeview-based 19th District recirculated a robbery alert Wednesday following a hold-up on the Boystown bar strip earlier in the day.
Despite that victim’s bad fortune, robberies in the Wrigleyville and Boystown neighborhoods are on pace to end 2019 at their lowest level in nearly 20 years.
Not bad for a part of town that, just 5 years ago, recorded more robberies than any other police beat in Chicago.
For us, that news is particularly pleasing to report. A handful of Wrigleyville and Boystown residents established CWBChicago in 2013 after growing frustrated with local politicians and police leaders who refused to acknowledge — much less address — a record-high surge in muggings.
Around 4:30 a.m. Wednesday, a man told police that two offenders implied they had a handgun and robbed him on the 3500 block of North Halsted. The victim gave the men his valuables and the robbers ran from the area, he said. A clerk working at a nearby gas station called 911 for the victim.
Police at the scene said the robbers were two black men in the mid-20’s. One of the men wore a red sweater, and the other wore a brown or orange sweater. They were last seen running southbound in the west alley of Halsted Street.
Around 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, the 19th District tweeted a community alert issued on Sept. 12 in which detectives warned of a robbery pattern that involved a group of up to three men who were striking in Wrigleyville. However, the tweet did not explicitly say police believed Wednesday’s hold-up is related to the earlier pattern.
The pattern identified last month included robberies on the 1100 block of West Waveland, the 1100 block of West Addison, and the 3500 block of North Clark. Full details of the alert are available in our previous coverage.
To be sure, no robbery is inconsequential for the victims of the crimes.
But there is good news: Robberies are affecting far fewer people in the Wrigleyville and Boystown area than any time since at least 2001.
Police recorded 93 robberies in the neighborhoods through September 30 of this year. That’s one incident more than during the same period last year, which was the area’s best performance in 18 years.
And robberies this month are pacing well behind nearly all previous Octobers on record.
All things considered, Wrigleyville and Boystown appear to be on track to record their lowest robbery count since before 2001, the first year for which records are publicly available.
“The 19th District has seen a reduction in robberies due to the preventative patrol and immediate response to emergency calls for service by our officers,” said Commander Chris Papaioannou, who has led the district since May.
“We have also utilized our Strategic Decision Support Center (SDSC) to quickly identify and track offenders in real-time, improving our initial response to emergencies,” he said.
Officers assigned to the SDSC monitor the district’s POD cameras and other intelligence streams, then communicate key information to responding officers. The recently-installed tech center also generates intelligence reports for patrol officers like one that recently led to the arrest of an alleged burglar in Boystown.
Papaioannou also pointed to his district’s “collaboration with our various communities in building trust and effectively affecting arrests.”
Not too long ago, things were much different. The nightlife and entertainment-heavy neighborhoods recorded record high robbery counts in 2011, then again in 2012, and yet again in 2013.
The local aldermen, CAPS meeting leaders, and a string of police district leaders early in this decade refused to acknowledge that there was a problem. Did they do anything about it? The numbers speak for themselves. Thankfully, new attitudes emerged and more motivated leaders took the reigns.
Out went the diversions and misinformation. In came facts, the re-alignment of police assets, and the aggressive pursuit of robbery offenders.
It’s pretty cool to see what can happen when everyone works to solve a problem rather than working to avoid it.