Lightfoot leaves successor with major crime hitting new highs and no clear plan to fix it

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is leaving her successor with crime levels at a five-year high. | Flickr/Lightfoot For Chicago

CHICAGO — It’s hard to believe that the first quarter of 2023 is already behind us. Perhaps slightly easier to believe is this: Reports of major crimes in Chicago were up 46% during the first three months of the year compared to the same period in 2022.

That’s according to the Chicago Police Department’s latest official crime statistics summary, known as CompStat.

Of the seven major crime categories tracked by CPD, only murders are lower this year, down 15% compared to 2022. They are still up 33% from 2019, though. Every other crime is up: criminal sexual assault, robbery, aggravated battery, burglary, theft, and motor vehicle theft, the report shows.

Robberies, up 15% across the city this year, are also up 30% compared to 2019. That number is being driven up in part by holdup crews that commit up to a dozen robberies in a narrow window of time.

Much of the year-over-year and longer-term increases can be attributed to motor vehicle thefts, up 133% compared to last year—nearly 4,300 additional cases. Auto theft reports are up thanks to the  “Kia boys” fad that has swept Chicago since social media videos taught young people how to exploit a design flaw to steal Kia and Hyundai vehicles with little more than a USB plug.

The thefts skyrocketed last July, with CPD sometimes taking more than 100 auto theft reports daily, a virtually unheard-of number. Both car companies are now offering a software update for cars with turn-key ignitions that were made between 2015 and 2019.

The year-to-date historical comparison grid from the Chicago Police Department’s April 2, 2023, CompStat report. | Chicago Police Department

CBS2 reported that 10% of Kias and 7% of Hyundais registered in Chicago had been stolen in 2022. And CWB Chicago reported that some insurance companies refused to issue new policies for the affected models earlier this year.

Year-over-year comparisons will become more favorable to the police department’s public relations office this summer, so we expect to hear a lot about “auto thefts are down” in a few months.

Among the local police districts that CWBChicago monitors closely, the Lincoln (20th) District is the worst-performing area this year. Major crime reports in the area, which includes much of Uptown, Lincoln Square, and Edgewater, are up 74% compared to last year and 93% compared to 2019. A persistent problem with business burglaries is combining with auto thefts to drive numbers up.

The best performer? That’s the Central (1st) District, which includes the Loop and South Loop. Major crime reports are up just 1% this year, thanks to a tempering of auto theft reports and declines in burglary and robbery. Longer-term performance, though, is not as good. Crime this year is up 155% compared to 2021 and 35% compared to 2019.

Here are links to the latest CompStat reports for Chicago police districts in our primary coverage area:

Central (1st) District is up 1% — Roughly the area between the lake, the river, and 31st Street.

Near North (18th) District is up 11% — The area between the lake, the river, and Fullerton. It includes Streeterville, the Magnificent Mile, River North, the Gold Coast, Old Town, and the south end of Lincoln Park.

Town Hall (19th) District is up 43% — The area between the lake, the river, Fullerton and Lawrence. Town Hall includes Lakeview, North Center, the north end of Lincoln Park, the south end of Uptown, and the south end of Lincoln Square.

Lincoln (20th) District is up 74% — The area between the lake, the river, Lawrence, and Peterson. This includes Edgewater, the north ends of Uptown, and Lincoln Square.

Rogers Park (24th) District is up 37% — The area between the lake, the North Shore Channel, Peterson, and the north city limits. It includes Rogers Park and West Ridge.

Albany Park (17th) District is up 49% — The area between the river, Cicero Avenue, Belmont Avenue. and the north city limits. Includes Albany Park, Irving Park, North Park, and the north end of Avondale.

Shakespeare (14th) District is up 48% — The area between the River, Central Park, Belmont, and Division. It includes Logan Square, West Town, Bucktown, Wicker Park, and parts of Avondale and Humboldt Park.

Near West (12th) District is up 46% — These boundaries are easier to see than to describe. In general, it’s the area south of Division Street between the river and Western Avenue. It includes parts of West Town and the Near West Side, much of the West Loop, Fulton Market, and Pilsen.

Jefferson Park (16th) District is up 35% — West of Cicero, north of Belmont, with the city limits to the north and west. It includes Jefferson Park, Dunning, Portage Park, Norwood Park, Forest Glen, and O’Hare.

The complete list of available CompStat reports is here.

About CWBChicago 6583 Articles
CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is news@cwbchicago.com