March 30, 1995
Vol. 14, No. 14

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    Crime rate up slightly, but crimes against persons decline

    As of March 23, an increase in auto thefts and thefts from autos had pushed the crime rate for the first three months of 1995 slightly higher than the crime rate for the same period in 1994. However, most crimes against persons, including robberies and purse snatchings, have declined significantly, according to the South East Chicago Commission.

    Four sex crimes have been reported so far this year, the same number reported during the first three months of 1994. One of these incidents occurred between 10:30 and 11 p.m. Wednesday, March 15, when a student walking from the Law School to her car across the Midway was approached by an offender who chased her to the depression in the center of the Midway. He forced her to the ground and by fondling her committed a criminal sexual assault, then fled when other people began to approach.

    Robberies declined by 32 percent, and purse snatchings were down 50 percent, the SECC reported. While there was an upsurge in burglaries in March, the total number of incidents decreased by 11 percent during the first three months of the year.

    "Although incidents of crime against persons are on the decline, we are concerned with the continuing gang-recruitment activity in the city," said Bob Richards, Law Enforcement Coordinator for the SECC. "Hyde Park has not been immune to this, especially in the 51st Street area near the high school, and some of it has spilled over to 53rd Street.

    "Residents should avoid groups of young people who appear to be engaged in gang activity, especially when they are flashing gang signs to each other." Richards describes gang signs as intricate hand and arm movements, often with the fingers forming forks.

    If people use their common sense, there is no reason not to enjoy all that Hyde Park has to offer, Richards said, noting the new stores at 53rd Street and Kimbark Avenue and the new restaurants in Harper Court and in the Hyde Park Shopping Center.

    "There are a lot of things to do on 53rd Street and in the other commercial areas of Hyde Park, and everyone should take advantage of the opportunities in the neighborhood and elsewhere in Chicago," Richards said. "For the most part, personal safety is a matter of using your common sense."