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Crime drops in Chicago, but rises in Rockford, Joliet and Elgin

Updated: June 25, 2011 12:33AM

Crime levels in Chicago and the rest of the nation fell across the board, but three major Illinois cities were an exception to the trend.

Violent crime in Chicago in 2010 fell by 11 percent from the year before while property crime dropped slightly — less than one percent, according to preliminary figures released by the FBI Monday.

Nationwide, there was a 5.5 percent drop in the number of violent crimes and a 2.8 percent decline in property crime.

However Rockford, Joliet and Elgin ­— all towns hard hit by the recession, posted significant increases in violent crime. Rockford showed a 10 percent increase in violent crime, Joliet 9 percent and Elgin 8 percent. Joliet also saw an 8 percent increase in property crime.

Rockford also had the highest rate of violent crime per capita, with 14 violent crimes occurring for every 1,000 residents. And while Rockford also posted a nearly 10 percent decline in property crime, it still had the highest property crime rate in the state: 50 for every thousand residents. Chicago, by comparison had 42 property crimes per thousand people.

And though violent crime dropped by 11 percent in Chicago, there were still 10 violent crimes for every 1,000 citizens.

Property crimes, a category including burglary, larceny and auto theft, held steady in Chicago, despite a 23 percent increase in the auto theft by category.

Aurora saw the biggest Illinois decline in violent crime, a drop of 15 percent, posting only 3 violent crimes per 1,000 people.

Nationally, year-to-year changes released by the FBI showed declines in all four categories of violent crime in 2010. All categories for property crime went down as well.

“In a word, remarkable,” said James Alan Fox, a criminologist at Northeastern University. In Fox’s view, the declines signify success for aggressive law enforcement and corrections programs and comprehensive crime prevention efforts. He said the crime levels could easily rise if the current environment of state and local budget cutting extends to law enforcement measures that are working.

The Illinois violent crime numbers in this analysis include murder, robbery and assault, but do not include the FBI’s “forcible rape” category. The FBI did not publish those numbers for some Illinois cities in 2009 and 2010 because those cities, including Chicago, did not meet the agency’s reporting standards.

Contributing: Associated Press

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