For the second straight year, Brookfield saw an uptick in the number of serious crimes reported to police in 2016. But the 285 incidents referenced in the village of Brookfield’s Uniform Crime Report, released by Police Chief James Episcopo on Feb. 13, are the fourth lowest annual total reported in the village in the past 17 years.
In 2015, Brookfield reported 242 total crimes, resulting in an increase of 18 percent in 2016.
The Uniform Crime Report, which is compiled by the FBI using information provided by law enforcement agencies across the nation, tracks eight major violent and property crime categories. The violent crimes are murder, criminal sexual assault, robbery and aggravated assault/battery; property crimes include burglary, theft, vehicle theft and arson.
In Brookfield in 2016, overall violent crime was down by 46 percent compared to 2015, with the largest drop coming in aggravated assault/battery, which fell from 16 incidents in both 2014 and 2015 to six, the lowest total in that category in two decades.
The village did experience its first homicide since 2010, when two people were murdered. However, police did arrest three men in connection with the January 2016 shooting of Michael Smith. The three are at Cook County Jail awaiting trial.
Reports of criminal sexual assault and robbery, both of which have never topped nine per year in the past 17 years, fell slightly in 2016 from the prior year. There were six reports of criminal sexual assault and two robberies last year.
Violent crimes comprised just 5 percent of all incidents in the 2016 Uniform Crime Report and traditionally represent a very small percentage of crime in Brookfield annually.
What drove the 18-percent overall increase in reportable crimes in 2016 were jumps in both theft and burglary, which are by far the village’s largest crime categories every year.
The 67 burglaries in 2016 represented a 60-percent increase over 2015 and was the largest annual total since 2013, when 74 were reported.
However, that number is far fewer than the more than 180 burglaries reported annually in the village from 2000 to 2003.
Police reported 189 theft incidents in Brookfield in 2016, a 24-percent increase year over year. But the number, again, is far lower than the numbers reported as recently as 2013.
In 2013, there were 278 reported thefts in Brookfield. The highest total in the past 17 years was in 2003, when 310 thefts were reported.
According to police, the 2016 numbers might have been lower if residents simply took some simple precautions, like locking their car doors overnight.
Police said that of the 66 vehicle burglaries reported in 2016, 72 percent of the vehicles had been left unlocked.
In terms of crimes involving juveniles, Brookfield police reported 39 incidents that either resulted in a petition to Cook County Juvenile Justice authorities or what’s known as a “station adjustment,” which doesn’t involve county juvenile authorities.
Police also issued 68 local ordinance citations to juveniles, with the vast majority involving curfew violations (22) and underage drinking (28).
Episcopo also reported that early morning disturbance calls to police have plummeted since Brookfield discontinued issuing 4 a.m. liquor licenses at the beginning of 2015.
Between 2010 and 2014, said Episcopo, Brookfield police responded 105 times between the hours of 2 and 4 a.m. to the three bars that had 4 a.m. licenses.
In 2015, Episcopo said, public disturbance calls between the hours of 2 and 6 a.m. fell 73 percent compared to 2014. That number increased somewhat in 2016, but was still 59 percent lower than the 2014 total.