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Lakeview Suspicious Person Stops Increase As Robberies Dip

By Serena Dai | May 23, 2013 7:12am
 A cop walks past the Belmont "L" stop. The area around the train station is known to attract crime, police have said.
A cop walks past the Belmont "L" stop. The area around the train station is known to attract crime, police have said.
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DNAinfo/Serena Dai

LAKEVIEW — Lakeview cops are cracking down on suspicious folk — and it's showing in robbery numbers, police say.

Town Hall District officers so far this year have collected 43 percent more "contact cards" — cards that gather information on suspicious persons — than they did the year before, up to more than 9,600 contact cards versus 6,700 last year.

A contact card is a tool used to get information about an individual who is not being arrested for a crime but might seem like they either just committed one or are about to commit one, according to the Chicago Police Department's "contact information system" description.

"It tells me our officers are stopping more people," Cmdr. Elias Voulgaris told Hawthorne Neighbors this week.

The district saw high robbery numbers earlier in the year, with a nearly five-fold increase from the year before in January, from 13 in 2012 to 60 in 2013. Most of the cases involved stolen iPhones and crimes near the Belmont Red Line stop. Voulgaris, who started in his position in August, has said he was under fire for the jump.

Tactics such as a dedicated force for entertainment districts, aggressive education efforts on how to avoid becoming a victim and the increase in stops of suspicious people have brought the numbers down, said Sgt. Jason Clark, the community policing officer.

Since February, the district has recorded 105 robberies, a 13 percent decrease from the same period last year.

It's "hard to say which one has been more effective," Clark said. "It's everything."

The Town Hall District includes Lakeview, Lincoln Park, North Center and parts of Uptown. Beats can be identified on the Chicago Police Department website. Robberies are defined as thefts with force or threat of force.

Voulgaris said while they're not "resting on their laurels" about improved numbers, he's happy with the trend.

"I'm very pleased," he said.