LAKEVIEW — Robberies and burglaries in Lakeview "are going down," the neighborhood's top cop said this week.
But residents cast doubt on the city's numbers this week after a Chicago magazine report claimed the Chicago police department regularly tweaks crime classifications to make offenses look less serious.
"They say you put [numbers] in a washing machine, and that's how you get the low number," a resident said at a community-policing meeting Wednesday night.
"I don't know if that's true or what you're saying is true," the man told police. "It's them saying one thing, and you guys saying another."
On Wednesday night, police from the Town Hall district — which includes Lakeview and parts of Uptown, North Center and Lincoln Park — released year-to-date crime data for several police beats.
Wrigleyville's beat 1924 — bordered by Addison, Belmont, Halsted and Southport — saw 18 robberies from Jan. 1 to June 4, down from 36 during the same period last year, police said.
There were 156 reported thefts in the beat this year, down from 243.
But there have been 35 burglaries from Jan. 1 to June 4, up from 26 during the same time last year.
"You're still up for the year, but it's trending down," said Sgt. Jason Clark, the district's community policing officer.
Clark pointed to the fact that from May 4 to June 4, there were only five burglaries on the beat, compared to 15 in the same 30-day period last year.
"Robberies and burglaries remain my — and the district's — No. 1 concern," said Cmdr. Elias Voulgaris. "Our robberies, thankfully, are going down. So are our burglaries."
Voulgaris said solid police work and evolving strategies have helped. He also credited media attention with keeping the public more alert.
Still, residents said they weren't sure whether they could believe the Town Hall district numbers. Clark sought to reassure them.
"Believe me, if I was washing the numbers, I think last year I would've washed them a little better than I did because robberies were really high," Clark said.
In July 2013 alone, there were more than 40 robberies in Beat 1924 — more than any other beat in the city.
"We didn't hide that robberies were high. We didn't hide that burglaries were high," Clark said. "It does me no good to wash a number. We use those numbers to make you aware."
Clark said he had read the Chicago magazine article, but wouldn't comment on it.
With summer approaching, Voulgaris urged residents to be wary of garage break-ins and auto thefts, particularly near the lake. He reminded residents to always lock car and garage doors.
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