The number of serious crimes committed in Riverside fell by about 10 percent in 2015 compared to the prior year, according to a report released by the Riverside Police Department on Jan. 21.
When 2015 ended, Riverside police reported 141 incidents of serious crime, as determined by the FBI, which mandates each police agency in the nation to annually report on eight categories of crime — murder, criminal sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault/battery, burglary, theft, motor vehicle theft and arson — for its Uniform Crime Report.
In 2014, the department had logged 157 reportable crimes.
“It was a good year of aggressive patrolling and residents calling police,” said Police Chief Thomas Weitzel. “More and more residents are calling if they see something unusual.”
Although it’s difficult to identify crime trends using the Uniform Crime Report — part of the issue is that the rules for reporting certain incidents change over time — there has been just one year in the past 12 where Riverside has reported fewer incidents of serious crime.
That was in 2008, when the village reported 114 serious crimes and when there was an apparent change in the way aggravated assaults were reported, falling from 57 in 2006 to 12 in 2008.
In 2014, rules for aggravated assault/battery changed again, this time not in the village’s favor. That year, according to Weitzel, the FBI began requiring reports of every criminal incident taking place on school property, regardless of whether an arrest was made or whether the incident was later determined to be unfounded.
As a result, in 2014, aggravated assault/battery incidents, fueled by incidents reported at Riverside-Brookfield High School and by an increase in domestic battery complaints, jumped to 52 from 2013’s total of 13.
Riverside’s crime numbers, as expected, were driven by property crime — theft and burglary, though both of those numbers fell sharply year over year in 2015. After a reported 19 burglaries in 2014, there were just 11 reported in 2015, a drop of 42 percent. And thefts fell from 83 in 2014 to 71 in 2015, a 21 percent decrease.
However, a look at theft and burglary numbers during the last 12 years shows that it’s hard to draw conclusions about crime trends. However, the number of burglaries and thefts in Riverside has fallen for three straight years.
“There were no large burglary patterns in 2015,” said Weitzel. “There wasn’t anything where there was targeting night after night as in years past.”
In the past 12 years, the most burglaries committed during a calendar year was 34 in 2008. The highest number of thefts was 169 in 2010.
Weitzel suggested that citizen involvement may be a contributing factor to the lower number of burglaries and thefts. The police department had nearly 500 calls for service from residents reporting suspicious activity, people and noises in 2015, according to Weitzel.
“I really believe that goes a long way toward preventing those crimes,” Weitzel said.
Once again, Riverside did not report any murders, and for the fifth time in the past 12 years no robberies were reported.
There was one report of criminal sexual assault, a case police investigated but which ultimately resulted in no charges being filed.
According to department records, police received 15,184 calls for service in 2015, up 4 percent year over year. Police made 533 arrests, a 14 percent increase from 2014.
Riverside police made 129 arrests for driving under the influence in 2015, a 4.4-percent drop year over year. The number of traffic citations dropped slightly (2 percent), with 2,666 written in 2015 versus 2014’s total of 2,722.
Police also responded to 10 percent fewer traffic accidents in 2015 (294 in 2015 versus 327 in 2014).