In the past ten days, Naperville had seen three robberies, a break into a jewelry store, a report of gunfire and a bomb threat.
Despite the visuals of high-profile criminal activity in the city, interim police chief Jason Arres said that by September 2021 crime has actually declined compared to recent years, including 2020.
“When we see such an influx of crime, I think it’s important to take a step back and get some context on what’s going on,” said Arres. “It’s important to take a step back and see what the trends are.”
At last week’s Naperville City Council meeting, City Councilor Patrick Kelly Arres asked about the spate of crimes that occurred between September 21 and October 1. A Fifth Third Bank and BMO Harris Bank were robbed, a bomb threat caused Naperville North High School to cancel. One day was shot at East Bailey Road and a subway restaurant was robbed, in addition to breaking into a jewelry store.
Arres acknowledged it was a busy time for the department, but said the cases do not necessarily translate into an increase in crime. For example, as of September 2020, there had been 24 raids in Naperville, up from 16 this year.
Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico said Naperville police had increased notifications via social media, texts and emails, which may add to perceptions that crime has increased.
“A few years ago it was a very deliberate, strategic decision to increase communication about crime,” said Chirico. “I remember we kept saying, ‘This is not a crime wave. It is a communication wave.'”
When comparing the first nine months of the data from last year to this year, the number of burglaries fell from 122 to 76, the number of thefts of motor vehicles from 51 to 44 and the reports of serious injuries and batteries from 89 to 54. The number of burglaries in Motor vehicles decreased dramatically from 260 to 98, which Arres attributed to the increased awareness of locking cars at night.
The 2021 stats reported by the Naperville Police Department have declined in every category year-on-year since 2016, with the exception of motor vehicle thefts, which were at lower levels between 2016 and 2019.
“Transparency for our department is vital and will continue to be so because we need to make this information public to create awareness,” said Arres. “We’re a very safe city, but we’re not a crime-free city. We’re the fourth largest city in the state of Illinois, and with that we have some of these problems.”