No murders so far in 2023, but overdoses and extortion attempts spike in Naperville

While the number of violent crimes in Naperville is down compared to this time last year, the city saw a spike in overdoses and extortion attempts in the first half of 2023.

Those were among the key take-aways Police Chief Jason Arres drew from Naperville's midyear crime statistics released last week. There were no murders in the first half of 2023, compared to two during the same period in 2022, but Arres said the surge in other areas needs to be addressed.

"It merits a little more observation on our end," Arres said. "The unfortunate thing we see with overdoses is we're in a reactive state. I'm always looking at what we can potentially proactively prevent from happening.

"It takes us researching patterns, researching trends and trying to figure out what's going on there," he said.

The number of overdoses through the first six months of 2022 and 2023 increased from 22 to 54. Thirty-nine were prescription drug overdoses, and six were fatal.

Extortion and blackmail attempts jumped from two in the first half of last year to 14 so far in 2023. Eleven cases involved teenage boys sending inappropriate pictures to unknown people, who then threatened to publicize the pictures if they weren't paid.

Arres called the "sextortion" attempts "totally preventable," and encouraged parents to speak to their kids about what they send others.

"What you send in a photo could live forever and stay with you the rest of your life," Arres said. "It's alarming, but I really wanted to highlight this to spark those conversations at home."

A significant number of other crimes were preventable, Arres said. Two-thirds of the 23 cars stolen through June were believed to have been left unlocked. Force was used in only 13% of residential burglaries and 20% of residential vehicle burglaries.

From the first half of last year to this year, the number of seized illegal firearms dropped from 99 to 75. Arres said he wants that number to drop even more in the future.

"It's dipped a little bit, but it's still higher than we've seen in years past," he said. "I don't want it to be the norm that we're recovering that many illegal guns."

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