2021 Crime Increases in Potential Violence
Chicago’s Loop and South Loop have experienced a significant reduction in reported crime over the past two years. Unfortunately, “Violent Crime”, those types of crimes that have the most potential to cause injury or death reversed that trend in 2021.
During the “Covid years” of 2020 and 2021, the total number of reported crimes in the Loop and South Loop dropped dramatically as isolation and store/office closings lowered opportunities for such crimes as retail theft, credit card fraud, and pick-pocket. But that drop didn’t protect victims as much from crimes such as Assault, Battery, Criminal Sexual Assault, Homicide, and Robbery. These specific crime types are used by the FBI to compare standardized results from across the country and are identified as Violent Index Crimes.
Compared to the “pre-Covid years” of 2017, 2018, and 2019, total annual crime reports in the Loop and South Loop dropped by 46% in 2020. But Violent Index Crimes only dropped by 31%. From 2020 to 2021, total Loop and South Loop crimes increased by 8%, but Violent Index Crimes increased by 26%.
That increase in Violent Index Crimes was most pronounced in two Police Beats, 131 and 132, which cover from Roosevelt Road to the Stevenson Expressway, a combined 63% increase from 2020 to 2021. The only Police Beat in the 1st Police District that recorded a drop in Violent Index Crimes was a 4% decline in Beat 133, which covers from the Stevenson to 31st Street.
Location Makes a Difference
The 1st Police District covers the Loop and the South Loop down to 31st Street, as well as the portion of the West Loop east of the Kennedy Expressway. It is divided into 11 Police Beats.
The five Violent Index Crimes had differing results across 1st District. Assault reports increased 29% from 2020 to 2021 with the largest increases in Beats 113 (82%) and 132 (70%). The descriptions of where these crimes occurred was quite mixed.
Battery reports, the most common of these violent types, increased 24%. Most of these happened in apartments, residences, hallways and stairs. Battery increased 60% each in Beats 131 and 132.
Criminal Sexual Assault reports increased 60%. Even though these report numbers were smaller (thankfully) than those for Assault, Battery, and Robbery, this was the largest percentage increase. Most of these reports were from hotels and motels along Wacker Drive and down Michigan Ave.
Homicide reports remained at six for both years. In a year when homicides across the city increased dramatically, the 1st District’s 2021 result could be considered good news.
Robbery reports increased 25%, with the highest increases happening in Beats 112 (79%) and 113 (97%), in the heart of the Loop. Only Beat 133 reported a decrease of 17%. These crimes were reported in public locations: streets, sidewalks, and the CTA.
Violence on the CTA
Police presence on the CTA is under the control of the Department’s Transit Unit, but is supported by officers from the 1st Police District. The increase in violence on and around the CTA has been noted by many South Loop residents. Across the 1st District in 2020, Violent Index Crimes at CTA locations dropped only 21% while total CTA crime dropped 54%. In 2021, Violent Index Crime reports at 1st District CTA locations actually increased 23% while total CTA crime continued to decline an additional 12%.
These increases in Violent Index Crime reports were most pronounced on CTA “L” trains, stations, and platforms compared to buses and bus stops or to CTA parking facilities. From 2020 to 2021, “L” reports increased 31%, while bus/bus stop reports decreased 31%.
Most of this increase in Violent Index Crimes at 1st District CTA locations occurred at the “L” stations along the Red Line. The accompanying chart sorts out CTA “L” Violent Index Crime reports from north to south.
Chicago Police, Aldermanic Wards, and many other organizations are working together to address this issue. South Loop residents have joined efforts through organizations such as South Loop Neighbors, 1st District CAPS, Neighborhood Watch Beat 123, and 4th Ward South Loop Community Advisory Council.