Powerful story concludes in Chicago Mag.
The Truth About Chicago’s Crime Rates: Part 2
Murder makes the headlines, but crimes like theft and assault are far more common in Chicago—and your chances of being a victim may be higher than the police are telling you.
n the first half of 2013, as the thermometer began to rise, so did the anxiety of those living in the Chicago Police Department’s 19th District. The district’s neighborhoods—Lake View, Boystown, Wrigleyville, and North Center, plus portions of Uptown and Lincoln Square and the north part of Lincoln Park—are among the most desirable in the city. But residents were increasingly sharing horror stories about robberies, beatings, drug deals, and bloodstains on previously safe sidewalks. “I moved here in 1981, and I have never felt as unsafe as I do now,” Lake View resident Michael Smith, 56, an art director at a marketing firm, told Chicago last fall.
In fact, in the months of May, June, and July, one of the police beats within the 19th District—a small area bordered by Belmont Avenue, Addison Street, Halsted Street, and Southport Avenue—notched more robberies than any other beat in Chicago, according to the police’s own statistics. The beat also ranked among the 10 worst, citywide, for violent crime. “Does it compare to what’s happening on the South and West Sides of the city? No,” says Craig Nolden, a 45-year-old marketing manager who lives with his wife and two children in the beat. “But it was out of control.”
Last summer, Nolden says, he called 911 four times: to report someone breaking in to his wife’s car, a couple brawling in a park, a fight outside his home, and someone dealing drugs nearby. In every case, by the time police arrived, the bad guys had departed. In the case of the drug deal, 20 minutes passed before cops showed up, Nolden says. When he asked them what took so long, the officers said they were answering another call, for an attempted apartment burglary. “I said, ‘With all due respect, are we in a take-a-number situation?’ And the officer said, ‘It’s such a colossally bad issue, I can’t give you an explanation.’ ”
“You can say your statistics are down,” says Sarah Gottesman, 36, a food-company brand manager who moved to Lake View three years ago… “But that doesn’t mean the crime didn’t happen.”
Carrie Austin, the alderman of the 34th Ward on the Far South Side—which includes Roseland, one of the city’s highest-crime neighborhoods told a Sun-Times reporter in January: “Don’t tell me about no statistics of McCarthy’s. You say, ‘Well, statistically, we’re down.’ That means crap to me when I know that someone else has been shot.”