The news: With 510 murders, Chicago saw a 15 percent increase in homicides in 2008–”the biggest increase in more than a decade.
Behind the news: In 2008, “index crimes” rose 4 percent from the year before, marking the first increase since 1995, the earliest year for which the data are kept on the Chicago Police Department’s Web site. Violent index crimes–” aggravated assault, criminal sexual assault, murder and robbery–”increased by 3 percent, while property index crimes–”arson, burglary, motor vehicle theft and theft–”rose by 4 percent.
The index crimes rose most on the North Side, with nine out of the 10 districts with the largest increases located on the North Side. The exception was District 15, which covers the West Side’s Austin neighborhood and ranked eighth highest in increases. District 23, which covers parts of Uptown, Lakeview and northeast Lincoln Park, saw the biggest increase, with a 16 percent rise in violent crime and a 14 percent hike in property crime.
Sgt. Alex Silva of the 23rd District responded to his district’s numbers by saying, “Nothing surprises me nowadays.”
“We’re definitely very aware of the increases and concerned about them,” Silva added. “We have a targetrich environment for criminals. We have a very diverse district in every way–”ethnic, socioeconomic. It’s really challenging to police in.”
When population figures were factored in, the highest crime spots were downtown and on the South and West sides of the city. In District 1, which covers the Loop, Near South Side and part of the Near West Side, about 28 crimes occurred for every 100 residents. Districts 6 and 7 on the South Side had 10 or more index crimes per 100 people.