A double murder in November marked the first time in nearly 30 years that a homicide had been committed in Riverside, casting a pall over what otherwise had been a year virtually free of violent crime in the village.
According to the village’s 2021 Uniform Crime Report, submitted annually to the Illinois State Police and used by the FBI to track eight categories of serious crime for each police agency in the nation, the village of Riverside recorded its lowest total number of serious crimes over at least two decades.
Carl C. Curry, 33, has been charged with fatally shooting 38-year-old Jeremy Lane and 31-year-old Tiata Johnson inside Lane’s Forest Avenue apartment during a Nov. 13, 2021 home invasion. The last homicide in Riverside was in 1992.
“Unfortunately in 2021 we have two murders that occurred at the same location,” said Public Safety Director Matthew Buckley during a presentation of last year’s crime numbers at the May 5 meeting of the village board. “This was a targeted crime and the offender was caught after he fled the area.”
Riverside also saw an uptick in 2021 of vehicle thefts compared to 2020. There were four vehicles stolen in Riverside last year compared to one in 2020, but four vehicle thefts annually have not been that unusual for Riverside, which recorded three or more vehicle thefts each year between 2004 and 2013. The only times since 2004 that Riverside saw fewer than three vehicle thefts in a single year were in 2014, 2015 and 2020.
“In 2021, some of our numbers may seem alarming, especially the two categories of murder and motor vehicle theft, when compared to 2020,” Buckley said. “[But] municipalities like Riverside with small populations frequently have wide statistical variations in reportable crimes.”
According to Buckley, all four stolen vehicles were recovered and arrests were made in each case.
The Uniform Crime Report tracks murder, criminal sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault/battery, burglary, theft, vehicle theft and arson.
In 2021, Riverside police recorded 95 reportable crimes in its Uniform Crime Report – with 77 of those crimes being thefts along with nine burglaries.
Violent crime accounts for just 5 percent of the incidents recorded in the 2021 Uniform Crime Report, where in addition to the two murders were one robbery and two aggravated assault/battery cases. There were zero criminal sexual assaults or arson cases in Riverside in 2021.
The total number of violent crimes in Riverside fell year over year from 13 in 2020 to five last year. The 95 total reportable crimes in 2021 was also the lowest number of serious crimes reported by Riverside police since at least 2004 and represents a 19-percent decrease in the number of crimes compared to 2020.
Many of the thefts – the largest single category – are avoidable, Buckley said.
“Many of our thefts occur because of unlocked vehicles and unlocked garages and sheds,” Buckley said, who urged residents not to leave valuables such as purses, laptop computers and cellphones inside their vehicles in plain view.
All four of the vehicle thefts could have been avoided, Buckley said. In each case, the keys were left in the vehicle and most often were left running.
The Uniform Crime Report does not track misdemeanor crimes or DUI cases. In 2021, Riverside police saw an increase in patrol activity over 2020, the first year of the pandemic, when police altered operations to limit exposure and months of lockdown reduced traffic.
Police wrote nearly 1,000 more citations (parking, traffic and compliance) in 2021 compared to 2020 and made 59 DUI arrests compared to 42 in 2020, which was the lowest number of DUI arrests made in Riverside in more than a decade.
Riverside police also made 179 total arrests in 2021 compared to 136 in 2020, an increase year over year of 43.