After seeing the number of reportable crimes decline for three straight years, Riverside experienced an uptick in crime, as measured by the Illinois State Police’s 2013 Uniform Crime Report.
The Uniform Crime Report is submitted to the state annually by every law enforcement agency in Illinois, and it tracks what are considered the eight most serious types of crime — murder, criminal sexual assault, aggravated assault/battery, burglary, robbery, theft, motor vehicle theft and arson.
In 2013, Riverside police reported investigating 171 of those crimes, a 21.3 percent increase over 2012’s total of 141.
“It looks alarming, but we have low crime altogether,” said Police Chief Thomas Weitzel of the uptick in reportable incidents. “We had just 171 reportable crimes. We have very low violent crime and almost non-existent street crime.”
In the past decade, Riverside has reported an average of about 168 reportable crimes.
“When you live in a town like Riverside, statistics can go up and down easily and can look dramatic when the numbers actually aren’t,” said Weitzel.
Of the violent crime categories, Riverside police reported two cases of criminal sexual assault. No arrests have been made in either case, which continue to be investigated by police. In both cases, the victims and alleged offenders knew each other, said Weitzel.
Riverside actually had two robberies reported in 2013, but one was removed from the Uniform Crime Report after it was determined to be unfounded, according to Weitzel. The other robbery, an incident last summer on Miller Road, is still under investigation but has run into roadblocks.
“There are no new leads and there have been conflicting statements,” said Weitzel. “But it’s not enough for us to say it didn’t happen.”
Aggravated assault/battery incidents jumped noticeably from one on 2012 to 12 in 2013. Five of those incidents, according to Weitzel, originated out of Riverside-Brookfield High School.
Weitzel said the school is required to report those incidents to police, even if victims refuse to seek charges against the offenders. In two of the incidents at the high school, the victim did not seek charges.
As is the case every year in Riverside, property crimes were far and away the most prevalent incidents reported in the village during 2013. The number of burglaries jumped 65 percent last year and the 33 incidents reported represent the second-highest number in the past decade.
However, said Weitzel almost all of those burglaries can be traced to one person, who pleaded guilty and is now on probation after serving more than three months in Cook County Jail.
“In court his own attorney admitted to 30 of the 33 burglaries,” said Weitzel.
Thefts were up slightly in 2013 as well, with police investigating 118 cases. Many of the theft cases involve items being removed from unsecured vehicles and property left unattended.
Riverside did experience its first arson since 2006. The incident occurred in April 2013 inside an apartment in the 2900 block of Harlem Avenue. Police arrested a 33-year-old Chicago woman named Linda B. Lopez. She was charged with aggravated arson, a Class X felony after allegedly starting a fire in the apartment after an altercation over drugs with her husband. The two were staying at the apartment, which had been leased by a friend.
Lopez’s case is still pending in Cook County Circuit Court.