Streamwood High says locker thefts are down
Filling out the police blotter can be one of the most interesting parts of a reporter's job.
Looking at the daily police reports gives reporters a feel for trends in crime; it's faster than waiting for monthly or yearly crime statistics.
Police reports are also a treasure trove for amusing slices of life and dumb criminals. Responding officers often seem to have fun filling out these reports, including irrelevant details and direct quotes, perhaps to entertain a supervisor or fellow officers.
Police blotter, though, often lacks the context that one finds in a story about crime or policing trends.
We recently reported that five thefts took place at Streamwood High School between Jan. 31 and Feb. 10. One theft, according to police, was in the boys' locker room; another took place in the weight room.
Both of those areas are the domain of Streamwood Athletic Director Pat Ryan. Ryan, also the physical education division head at the school, called me when he saw the short news item, buried on an inside page.
Ryan said the thefts in February (certainly not unusual for a large high school), were not consistent with an overall decline in thefts in the athletic and physical education areas of the school.
"We're providing lockboxes for students who want to put in any valuables," Ryan said.
"In both of these incidents, the lockers were left unlocked."
That's the context that is often missing from police reports.
Ryan said there were about 65 locker room thefts at Streamwood last year; this year there have been about a dozen, mostly at the beginning of the school year.
"I'm doing all I can to bring thefts down to zero," Ryan said. "I take it personal when something gets taken."
That should be reassuring for parents, but common sense still applies.
If you don't want your iPod to get stolen, don't take it to school.
And if you do bring it, keep it in a locked locker.