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Bucktown Car Thefts Drop as Burglaries Nearly Double, Cops Say

By Alisa Hauser | June 20, 2013 10:54am
 Oscar Sotelo, 20, of the 2500 block of W. Cortland Ave., was arrested in the 1600 block of North Campbell Ave. at 1:40 a.m. Sunday and charged with Aggravated Unlawful Use of a Weapon - Loaded Gun.
Oscar Sotelo, 20, of the 2500 block of W. Cortland Ave., was arrested in the 1600 block of North Campbell Ave. at 1:40 a.m. Sunday and charged with Aggravated Unlawful Use of a Weapon - Loaded Gun.
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Chicago Police Department

BUCKTOWN — The good news is that car thefts have dropped in Bucktown but the bad news is that residential burglaries have "significantly increased," cops say.

At a Beat 1434 CAPS meeting Wednesday at the Bucktown-Wicker Park Library, Sgt. Felipe Reyes said that from April 17 through June 18, there was a steep decline in motor vehicle theft, with 13 reports as compared to 26 in the prior period (Feb. 13- April 16).

Meanwhile, in the beat — bordered by Armitage Avenue on the north, North Avenue on the south, Wood Street on the east and Rockwell Street on the west — other crimes spiked.

A rise in burglaries, with 21 instances of forcible entry to homes as compared to 10 in the previous period, prompted Reyes to advise residents to use motion sensor lights, lock their windows and get to know their neighbors, among other measures.

Reyes said there is no pattern to the residential burglaries, save for the fact that seven of the 21 incidents, or one-third, occurred on Fridays, though "not all on the same Friday."

Reyes encouraged the handful of residents at the meeting to attend a "Keeping it Real" burglary seminar 7 p.m. on Thursday during a bordering beat's gathering at St. Mary of the Angels Church at 1850 N. Hermitage Ave. in Bucktown.

A convicted burglar will talk about what homeowners can do to help prevent burglaries, Reyes said.

In other matters, theft of items under $500 dominated the Top Ten crimes for Beat 1434, with 24 thefts reported between April 17 and June 18, as compared to 13 during the previous two-month period. Theft of items over $500 also saw a rise, with 13 instances as compared to seven in the prior period.

"Theft has jumped dramatically...  I know I sound like a broken record but put away your smart phone. It doesn't make you safe, it makes you a target. There are people on the street looking for iPhones," Reyes said.

Other top crimes that saw surges in the beat included criminal damage to property, with 13 reports as compared to seven in the previous two-month period; domestic battery, with 11 reports as compared to five in the prior period; and burglary caused by unlawful (as opposed to forcible) entry clocking in six reports as compared to four in the prior period.

As he has stressed at a previous gathering, Reyes again said that unlawful entry could be eliminated if people simply lock their doors.

Though the number of arrests were slightly down, from 48 arrests in the previous two-month period to 43, police Sgt. Joseph Giambrone said the arrests made were "quality," with eight of the arrests considered "impact arrests" involving issues of concern to residents of an area packed with nightclubs and plagued with graffiti.

Bucktown resident Steve Jensen told the group that three taggers who were caught defacing property in the 2200 block of N. Ashland Ave. in April received 100 hours each of community service and "they're already sweating" as they start to clean up the area under Jensen's supervision.

In addition to graffiti busts, other "impact arrests" included felony busts for possession of cocaine in connection with the breaking up of an illegal social club. Also included was an arrest early Sunday of a member of the Maniac Latin Disciple gang who was allegedly carrying a loaded .380 caliber handgun while headed west from Bucktown to the Puerto Rican festival in Humboldt Park.

According to Giambrone, around 1:40 a.m. Sunday, officers observed Oscar Sotelo, 20, carrying a handgun and chased him by foot from the 2500 block of W. North Ave. to the 1600 block of N. Campbell Avenue, were he was taken into custody and charged with a felony of "aggravated unlawful use of a weapon — loaded gun."

Giambrone said Soleto's weapon was one of three recovered in the vicinity of the Puerto Rican parade festivities, which "was the most successful fest with no shootings."

Soleto, of the 2500 block of W. Cortland Ave., has a June 25 court date.