Crime

Did a North Side police district *really* go 30 days without a burglary?

The 20th Police District station at 5400 North Lincoln. | Google

Did a sprawling North Side police district really go 30 straight days without recording a single burglary?

That’s the incredible claim made in a recent news report about the 20th District, whose territory stretches from Lawrence to Peterson and from Lake Michigan to the North Shore Channel.

In a Block Club Chicago story last week headlined “Burglaries Drop 35 Percent In North Side Police District After Cops Ramp Up Anti-Break-In Strategies,” it was reported that “at one point the district went 30 straight days without a burglary.”

“I don’t remember that ever happening before,” District Commander Sean Loughran reportedly said.

It turns out there may be a good reason for not remembering that.

According to the city’s own data, it never happened. In fact, it’s not even close. The longest stretch of time without a burglary in the 20th District this year has been the nine days between June 17 and June 27. That’s great. But it’s not 30.

We asked the police department on Friday if Loughran had been accurately quoted. If he had been, could the department help us find the elusive month-long stretch of burglary free living? We never heard back.

But wait there’s more
To be fair, the claim of 30 days without a burglary was part of a larger report. The broader story was about a “full court press” against burglaries in the district that has resulted in “a 35 percent cut in burglaries compared to last year.”

“And in the last 28 days (compared to the same period last year), the district has seen a 70 percent drop in burglaries.”

How’d they do it? According to the story, police are inspecting homes for vulnerabilities, officers are being told to “take their time” when making burglary reports, and cops have handed out anti-burglary checklists to residents.

All very good stuff.

There may, however, be another reason that there has been a 70% drop in burglaries over the past 28 days.

Last September was the single worst month for burglaries in the 20th District since at least January 2015. By a long shot. A total of 53 break-ins were reported there last September, more than twice the number of the next-worst September performance.

And the district had a huge spike in burglaries for the entirety of last year. Six of the ten worst months for burglaries in the district since 2014 were recorded last year.

Through Sept. 17, the district this year recorded 123 burglaries, according to city data. That’s the lowest number in five years, but it’s also generally in-line with burglary totals for the same period in 2017 (137) and 2015 (136).

All things considered, the incredible statistical decline in burglaries may be best credited to good timing of a press interview.

Footnote: The Chicago Police Department today announced that Loughran has been promoted out of his position in the 20th District. He will now oversee the department’s Special Functions Unit, which includes the helicopter, marine, and SWAT units. Taking over in the 20th District is Brendan McCrudden, a 20-year veteran who most recently served as captain of the Bridgeport-based 9th District.

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