Lester: 40 suburbs see spike in violent crimes in 2015

Violent crimes increased last year in half of 80 suburbs, says a new report by the FBI we've been analyzing.

Property crimes increased in more than 40 percent of the suburbs.

The Uniform Crime Reporting Program's 2015 report shows Rosemont had a 94 percent increase in violent crimes, from 18 in 2014 to 35 in 2015. Most are assaults, but the category also includes rape, homicide and robbery. The village had a 29 percent increase in property crimes, which include arson, burglary and vehicle theft.

Other more populous suburbs had larger numbers of violent crimes in 2015, including 650 in Aurora, 261 in Elgin and 128 in Naperville.

Violent crimes remained largely flat in Palatine, with 36; Des Plaines, with 50; and Arlington Heights, with 42; while some communities saw crimes decrease across the board. Buffalo Grove saw an 80 percent decrease in violent crimes, to 2, and an 18 percent decrease in property crimes, to 234, while Prospect Heights saw a 33 percent decrease in violent crimes, to 14, and a 29 percent decrease in property crimes, to 112.

<h3 class="leadin">Multipronged strategy

Prospect Heights Police Chief Al Steffen tells me that the positive trend is the result of years of outreach by his department.

“Prospect Heights is not a very large area and a majority of crimes tend to be confined to certain portions of town,” he said.

Officers have worked with management associations of apartment buildings in those areas to install police camera systems that cover entrances and exits. Officers volunteer their time during the summer to work with kids who Steffen says “could be susceptible to gang influence.” Those efforts, he says, continued even when the force had layoffs in recent years.

“When you start getting to know police officers on a first-name basis, families stop looking at you in uniform and start looking at you as people,” Steffen says.

Read the full report at

<h3 class="leadin">Money drops

Comptroller Leslie Munger of Lincolnshire

Lincolnshire Republican Leslie Munger's bid for another term as Illinois comptroller against Democratic Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza is by far the most expensive in the state. The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform - which deserves a medal for diligently tracking this stuff - calculates that $7.4 million has poured into the race in the form of donations and independent expenditures.

The next most expensive is the $2.4 million 20th House District race between GOP state Rep. Michael McAuliffe of Chicago and Democrat Merry Marwig of Chicago, followed by the $2.3 million 31st Senate race between Democratic state Sen. Melinda Bush of Grayslake and Republican Mike Amrozowicz of Gurnee. The 23rd Senate race between Democratic state Sen. Tom Cullerton, of Villa Park, and Seth Lewis of Bartlett has brought in $2 million, and the 62nd House race between state Rep. Sam Yingling of Round Lake Beach and Republican Rob Drobinski of Wauconda has brought in $1.8 million. And there's still a month to go before election day.

<h3 class="leadin">Pay it forward

Fremd High School sophomore Maegan Jong, left, with a resident of Friendship Village. Courtesy of Friendship Village

A Fremd High School sophomore has been spending her spare time teaching Schaumburg senior citizens Mandarin Chinese, Friendship Village officials tell me. Maegan Jong, whose parents emigrated from Taiwan, says she's “privileged to be immersed in two cultures at once.” When Jong was a student at the Chicago Northwest Suburban Chinese School, she performed traditional Chinese dances for residents at the senior living community and said she was inspired to volunteer, teaching residents conversational phrases and about various holidays and customs. But she says she learned just as much from the seniors. “The elders taught me that, with a positive attitude, hard work and a smile, anything can be done. Watch a sweet video of the residents singing “Happy Birthday” in Mandarin at

<h3 class="leadin">Kennedy to visit DuPage

DuPage County Democrats' Chair Bob Peickert tells me former Merchandise Mart President Chris Kennedy of Kenilworth is scheduled to address the party at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, at Allegra Banquets in Villa Park. Democratic political operatives say Kennedy is considering a 2018 bid for governor - but he's not commenting on the subject just yet.

<h3 class="leadin">Congrats, marathoners

It was a beautiful day Sunday for the 39th Annual Bank of America Chicago Marathon. Myself, reporter Erin Hegarty and others from the newsroom all took a stab at the 26.2-mile course. Can't say enough good things about the beautiful, well-organized route ... at this point, post-race though, I'm looking forward to several days of not running. Congratulations to all marathoners.

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