According to a report just released by the Riverside Police Department, crime in the village rose by 15 percent in 2005, an increase that is directly attributable to a rash of vehicle burglaries last summer, an increase in domestic battery incidents and an uptick in assault and battery cases reported at Riverside-Brookfield High School.
In all, the number of total incidents in the village’s Uniform Crime Report increased from 169 in 2004 to 195 in 2005. All Illinois municipalities are required each year to report major crimes to the state police, which tracks the crime statistics. Offenses that must be reported include murder, criminal sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault/battery, burglary, theft, motor vehicle theft and arson.
While the total number of crimes in Riverside rose last year, crime is still down significantly from 2003, when Riverside reported 270 major crimes and from 2002, when the department noted 237 reportable incidents.
“That 15 percent represents 26 crimes,” said Riverside Assistant Chief Thomas Weitzel. “We still have an extremely low crime rate in Riverside. It’s a very safe community.”
In addition, Riverside still has little street crime to speak of. The village reported just one robbery in 2005. The village again reported no murders, a crime Riverside hasn’t experienced in over a decade.
Police reported one criminal sexual assault in 2005, down from three in 2004 (those three were all related to one incident). Since 1996, there have been eight criminal sexual assault cases reported in Riverside.
There were two fewer motor vehicle thefts reported in Riverside during 2005, although the number of vehicle thefts in the village has remained pretty constant between six and nine since 2001.
No incidents of arson were reported by police in 2005. The only arson report in the village since 1996 came in 2004.
The most prevalent crime reported in Riverside, as has been the case traditionally, was theft. However, Riverside saw the fewest number of thefts?”112?”in 2005 than has been seen since 2001, when police reported 125. The number of thefts is down sharply since 2003, when police reported 161. In 2004, police reported 121 thefts within Riverside.
According to Weitzel, the majority of thefts in the village are either from unlocked vehicles, bike thefts or thefts reported at village schools.
“Most are absolutely crimes of opportunity,” Weitzel said. “We try to hammer the point home to lock your doors. If they’re locked, they’ll move on to somewhere else.”
Where Riverside saw its most noticeable increases in crime were in burglary and aggravated assault/battery. The number of aggravated assault/battery reports jumped from 22 in 2004 to 52 in 2005, an increase of 136 percent.
Weitzel said that the majority of those incidents were domestic complaints.
“The large majority are the result of our mandatory arrest policy,” Weitzel said, adding the policy has limited the number of repeat domestic battery offenders in Riverside.
“It’s very rare for us to go back to the same residence now,” he said.
Meanwhile, burglaries jumped 84 percent, from 13 in 2004 (the lowest number since at least the mid-1990s) to 22 in 2005. While burglaries increased, the 22 reported last year were still the lowest number of burglaries (not counting 2004) since 1999.
Police last August closed the book on six of those burglaries with the arrest of a teenage boy who had escaped from a Dubuque, Iowa juvenile detention facility. The boy was also suspected in a string of burglaries in neighboring towns.
Arrests for cannabis-related offenses increased from 36 in 2004 to 40 in 2005, while possession of drug paraphernalia citations were written 41 times in 2005, versus 34 in 2004. The department did report fewer arrests for possession of a controlled substance in 2005. In 2004 Riverside made 21 such arrests; in 2005 there were 16.