Police warn tough times may lead to crime spike

February 6, 2009 8:36:32 AM PST
Police warn that robberies tend to spike during tough economic times. And when people are desperate for money the crimes become more brazen.

A woman was attacked Monday evening at the garage on 181 North Dearborn.

On Thursday night, it was cold and dark. But that made little difference to several dozen concerned neighbors in Logan Square on Thursday night. They've seen a crime spike in the area recently just as many are struggling in tough economic times.

"It is tough all over. But the answer in tough times lies in community and communities coming together," said Bishop Jeffrey Lee, Episcopal Diocese of Chicago.

Police tried to increase their visibility, holding roll call on the square on Thursday night.

Statistics released on Thursday show a drop in homicides and most other crimes in Chicago but an increase in robberies. Experts say stress often leads people to criminal behavior.

"When the money gets tight, people get creative and interesting. They get pressured and stressed and they start taking it out on other people," said Dr. Carl Bell, Community Mental Health Council.

"In these hard economic times, these crimes tend to spike and people just need to be aware of their environment and what's around them," said Sgt. Timothy Kusinski, Chicago Police Department.

Police say they have seen an increase in muggings recently, including one earlier this week at a Loop parking garage. The victim, who wants to protect her identity, says the suspect captured in security camera pictures, threatened her with a gun in the elevator, then punched her and threw her to the floor before getting away with $30.

"I screamed for anybody to help me. Nobody was around, which is unbelievable at rush hour," said the victim.

The Logan Square activists marched to a church where they talked about how to stop the crime in the area. They pray not only for the victims but for those who are tempted to commit crimes. They know it's tough.

"The economy plays a role in everything and with crime it's no different," said Commander Lucio Martinez, Chicago Police.

Police Superintendent Jody Weiss incidentally believes the overall drop in crime could be due in part to a number of police initiatives such as the initiation of the mobile strike force that was responsible for more than 500 arrests and seized more than 80 guns.