Naperville police saw identity theft cases surge in their mid-year crime statistics report, but rates of other major offenses have decreased.
“We have a heavy spike in identity theft in the first six months of this year,” Interim Chief of Police Jason Arres said. There were 1,081 cases of identity theft in the first six months of 2020, compared to 248 in the previous year.
Theft and Burglary
Excluding identity theft, there was a 35% decrease in serious and violent crimes. There have been 305 cases of stolen item thefts so far this year, compared to 352 in the first half of 2020.
Motor vehicle thefts have decreased by 35% compared to 2020. Arres said 88% of these cases are “no force,” where the vehicle is unlocked and the keys are left inside. All ‘no force’ vehicle thefts have been in residential areas, whereas all forceful thefts have been reported at car dealerships, Arres said.
Burglaries of motor vehicles have decreased by 71% so far this year. Arres said vehicles were unlocked in 85% of those cases. He said the decrease could be due to more people locking their car doors, and cited the department’s “Lock It or Lose It” campaign.
Burglary cases are down by about half, with 41 cases this year compared to 84 cases in the first half of 2020. Arres said buildings have been unlocked in 65% of commercial burglaries and 66 percent of residential burglaries. “We’re doing a good job, but we still need to keep pushing that message out to the community; think about how many more crimes we can prevent if we just locked our stuff,” Arres said.
Armed robbery has also decreased by half, with nine cases this year compared to 18 during the same period last year.
Naperville police have “been very proactive this year,” Arres said. Multiple police units have used proactive policing efforts, which resulted in more traffic stops and a 503% increase in motor vehicle offenses.
Those efforts also led to a 190% increase in Cannabis Control Act violations, with most cases involving motor vehicles. “While it’s legal, there are certain ways you have to transport that cannabis to make it legal,” Arres said, citing open containers and placement within the vehicle as regulations to follow.
Arres said proactive policing has also led to a sharp increase in deadly weapon offenses, with 39 cases so far this year compared to 10 during the same time last year. Illegal firearms found during traffic stops accounted for 35 of the 39 cases. “We’re very proactive out there, these units are doing fantastic work on the street. What do you prevent when you take an illegal firearm off the street, out of someone’s hands that isn’t allowed to have it? You can never measure that, you just don’t know what we’ve stopped,” Arres said.
Cases of drivers fleeing or eluding police have increased so far this year. Naperville police have seen 45 drivers flee so far in 2020, compared to an annual average of 19, Arres said.
Naperville has not followed the national trend of an increase in overdoses so far this year, Arres said. Prescription and heroin overdoses, as well as fatalities, have decreased so far in 2021 compared to past years.
Police have used Narcan, a medicine used to reverse opioid overdoses, four times this year, compared to 10 times in the first six months of 2020.
Naperville News 17’s Casey Flanagan reports.
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