The number of serious crimes reported by police in North Riverside fell again in 2010, continuing a sharp decline that began in 2009.

North Riverside Police Chief Anthony Garvey late last month released the department’s preliminary Uniform Crime Report for 2010, which has been forwarded to the Illinois State Police, which tracks crime in eight categories, including murder, criminal sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault/battery, burglary, theft, motor vehicle theft and arson.

In 2010, North Riverside listed 557 reportable crimes. That represents a 19-percent decline from the total number of crimes in 2009, when North Riverside listed 689 offenses.

And since 2008, when North Riverside police reported 894 major crimes, the number has fallen by almost 38 percent.

The fall in the village’s crime rate can be traced directly to the decline in the number of thefts reported in the past two years. Theft, particularly retail theft, drives North Riverside’s crime stats.

With a major regional shopping mall and two other large shopping centers within its boundaries, North Riverside’s theft numbers dwarf neighboring communities, such as Riverside and Brookfield.

Riverside reported 169 thefts in 2010, and Brookfield reported 199 in 2009.

In 2008, North Riverside reported 804 thefts, which amounted to 90 percent of all reportable crimes committed in the village. In 2010, the police reported 506 thefts ¡ª almost 300 fewer than two years ago, but still accounting for 91 percent of all reportable crimes.

While some of that decline may be traced to increased security measures at the North Riverside Park Mall, that decline may not be as big as it appears.

In addition to the 506 thefts reported to the state police, North Riverside officers also handed out 458 local ordinance violation tickets for theft in 2010, incidents that weren’t included in the Uniform Crime Report.

According to Garvey, a number of those tickets ¡ª it’s hard to say exactly how many ¡ª would have been reported to the state police prior to 2009, when North Riverside began to handle cases of minor theft at its own adjudication hearings.

“These are mainly cases where there are low dollar amounts, first-time offenders and no aggravating circumstances,” said Garvey. “A lot of them involve juvenile offenders.”

In the past, many of those offenders would have received what is known as a “station adjustment.” Cases that were officially referred to Cook County Juvenile Court would have been reported to the state police in the past.

The number of burglaries has also fallen steadily since 2008, when North Riverside reported 36 incidents. In 2010, police reported 20 burglaries in Riverside, a drop since 2008 of 44 percent.

Robberies in 2010 fell to just seven, the lowest number reported in the past decade.

Crime went up in just two categories in 2010 ¡ª motor vehicle theft, which increased from 14 in 2009 to 15 in 2010, and criminal sexual assault.

North Riverside police reported two criminal sexual assaults last year, the first such incidents in five years.

According to Garvey, neither of the investigations has resulted in an arrest. One incident was passed along to North Riverside police by a behavioral healthcare worker who, in treating a patient, discovered that a 9-year-old girl may have been the victim of a sexual assault four years ago in her North Riverside home.

Police have been attempting to locate the offender, who may have fled the country, Garvey said.

The second incident involved a 12-year-old North Riverside girl and her 16-year-old boyfriend in August of 2010. According to Garvey, the girl’s mother has not cooperated with the investigation.

While the number of serious crimes fell in 2010, Garvey said that calls for service increased 18 percent year over year.

“We also had significant increases in traffic enforcement,” said Garvey, who stated his officers wrote 2,289 moving violation tickets in 2010, compared to 1,802 in 2009. DUI cases also increased year over year in 2010 by 35 percent.

Going down

The following table represents crime statistics for the Village of North Riverside from 2000-10 from the Uniform Crime Reporting program, which municiapalities file with the Illinois State Police on an annual basis. The following eight categories are considered to be major crimes.