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Murder took holiday in most area towns in ’12

Police activity doesn’t always fit insimple category such as this November 2011 incident which officers locked down South ElgHigh School

Police activity doesn’t always fit into a simple category, such as this November 2011 incident in which officers locked down South Elgin High School after receiving a call from a suicidal subject who claimed he was in the hallway. | File~Sun-Times Media

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RATE OF PROPERTY CRIMES PER 10,000 RESIDENTS, 2011 AND 2012

2011 2012

Algonquin 172.9 166.6

Bartlett 69.7 76.4

Carpentersville 162.9 140.0

East Dundee 425.2 207.8

Elgin 190.6 181.6

Gilberts 71.2* 43.2*

Hampshire 115.0* 137.0

Huntley 88.2 87.8

Pingree Grove 50.8 48.1

Sleepy Hollow 102.6 95.8

South Elgin 117.0 144.5

St. Charles 176.3 150.7

Streamwood 155.1 175.5

West Dundee 316.9 337.6

* = 2010 figure; 2011 not available

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Updated: October 28, 2013 7:08AM



Chicago may have been drowning in the blood of 500 homicides last year. But 40 miles to the west, the northern Fox Valley and adjacent areas were a safe place to live in 2012 — at least if you base that on the number of reported murders, rapes and robberies.

And some area towns, such as Sleepy Hollow and Pingree Grove, again were practically crime-free, especially with respect to violent offenses.

The FBI released its final report on “Crime in the United States 2012” recently, totaling how many crimes of each type occurred during 2011 in smaller cities and villages. Those numbers for cities more than 100,000 people, such as Elgin and Aurora, had been released by the FBI last spring.

The reports are based on numbers submitted by each local police department. They include only eight kinds of crime: murders and non-negligent manslaughters, forcible rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults, lumped together as violent crimes; burglaries, thefts and vehicle thefts, combined as property crimes; and arson.

As Elgin officials announced last winter, the “City in the Suburbs” had its lowest number of crimes in 40 years, and a level lower than almost all of the seven Illinois cities that are bigger. Elgin had 76 robberies, for example. Springfield, with about the same population, had 260 robberies. Rockford, about 50 percent bigger, had 499.

Elgin had two murders. Springfield had 10 and Rockford had nine.

But when compared to the 13 smaller cities and villages around it in northern Kane and western Cook counties, Elgin’s situation looks a lot less positive. Its rate of 23.5 violent crimes per 10,000 people ranked worst of all 14 towns. Next worst in the rate of violent crimes were Hampshire with 17.8 per 10,000, South Elgin with 16.2, Algonquin with 9.6 and Carpentersville with 8.2

Almost violence-free, on the other hand, were East Dundee with just one such crime (an aggravated assault) and a rate of 3.5 per 10,000 people; Huntley with six crimes (one murder, one robbery and four assaults) and a rate of just 2.5 per 10,000; and Gilberts with just three crimes (two rapes and an assault) and a rate of 4.3.

Sleepy Hollow marred its 2011 record of having zero violent crimes by experiencing two (both aggravated assaults) in 2012.

Homicide practically passed over the area in 2011. The number of murders and non-negligent manslaughters in Elgin plummeted from five to just two. Carpentersville, like the year before, had one murder. And all the other towns combined had just one murder, again equalling the year before. In 2012, that additional murder occurred in otherwise nonviolent Huntley. In 2011, the other murder had occurred in Streamwood.

South Elgin’s violent crimes more than doubled, from 17 to 36. Almost all the increase was in the assault category, although the number of robberies went from one to three.

St. Charles, on the other hand, cut its violent crimes by almost half, from 33 to 18. That included slashing the number of robberies from nine to three.

Tricky numbers

Comparing the violent crime rates reveals an important caveat when comparing stats: When dealing with very small absolute numbers, ratios and rates can change very easily and thus become misleading.

It might sound terrible that Pingree Grove had four times as many violent crimes last year as the year before. Its rate of violent crime per person zoomed fourfold, too. But when one learns that Pingree Grove had only one violent crime (an assault) in 2011 and this 2012 crime wave consisted of just four violent crimes (again, all assaults), that doesn’t sound so alarming anymore.

Similarly, it is impressive that East Dundee had only one-sixth as many violent crimes as the year before.

But that is not so dramatic when considering the drop was from six crimes to one.

Huntley’s amount of violent crime doubled from 2011 — from three to six. Gilberts’ violent crimes went exactly the opposite direction between 2010 and 2012 (the village did not provide stats to the FBI for 2011), up from three to six.

West Dundee cut its number of violent crimes from nine to four.

Algonquin cut its number of violent crimes by a third from the previous year (from 49 to 29), while Bartlett saw its violent crimes approximately double (from 16 to 31).

But with the numbers relatively small, are these big trends? Or just rolling ones and sixes on the dice?

Looking at total violent crime rates and numbers also may be misleading because the number of aggravated assaults is much larger in every town than the number of homicides, rapes and robberies. Those last three crimes could go up or down a lot.

But if the number of aggravated assaults was going in the opposite direction, the total number of violent crimes could seem to be going the opposite way, too.

That did not, however, seem to be the case in any area town between 2011 and 2012.

Property crimes

Just as aggravated assaults dominate the violent crimes, the total number of property crimes is largely dependent on the number of thefts, which occur in bigger numbers than burglaries or vehicle thefts. As a result, towns with lots of shopping areas — and thus lots of shoplifting — tend to have a high theft rate and a high rate of total property crime.

Because of this, West Dundee and East Dundee led in the rate of property crimes in 2012. Following close behind were Elgin, Algonquin and South Elgin, with their big retail strips along Randall Road. Yet East Dundee had just two burglaries last year, and West Dundee just nine burglaries.

With almost no businesses — and thus almost no shoplifting — Pingree Grove had the area’s fewest property crimes per person in 2011.

But the fast-growing rural village turned into bedroom suburb outdid even that in 2012 — by lowering its already small number of property crimes by one.

South Elgin’s total property crimes went up considerably, because of a rise in thefts from 218 to 291. But the number of South Elgin burglaries actually dropped from 33 to 24.

Yet even while East Dundee’s theft rate kept it in second place for area towns, East Dundee’s property crime level did drop drastically from the year before. The number of burglaries dropped from six to two; of thefts, from 113 to 58.

Like yet unlike

Carpentersville, Streamwood and Bartlett have almost identical populations, about 40,000 each. But a person was about twice as likely to be the victim of a property crime in Carpentersville or Streamwood as in Bartlett last year. And a person was more than four times as likely to be the victim of a burglary in Carpentersville or Streamwood as in Bartlett.

Prosperous, almost-all-residential Sleepy Hollow — always one of the most crime-free villages in this area — was able to smash its troubling incidence of burglaries from the whopping five in 2011 to just one last year. One is approximately the number of burglaries that took place in Elgin every 24 hours — or in Chicago, every 4.7 minutes.

More details about the FBI Uniform Crime Reports are at www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2012/crime-in-the-u.s.-2012



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