Property crimes are the kind of quality-of-life offenses that rarely make headlines, but if you live in Chicago, you’re more likely to fall victim to them than to any other, the Chicago Tribune reports. Property crimes increased in 2008 by about 2.6 percent over 2007. In real numbers, that’s about 3,368 more burglaries, thefts, cars stolen, and garages burned than in 2007. Last year’s total of 131,663 reported crimes last year amounted to one for every 22 residents.
One of the local districts with the fewest murders had the largest percentage increase in property crimes, up 13.6 percent from 2007. In other areas where murders went up, property crime dropped. One local police commander, Anthony Riccio, pointed to the economy as a key reason why property crimes rose. When gas prices topped $4 a gallon last summer, stations reported increases in gas thefts. There were increases in small thefts, like work tools stolen from garages or from cars, anything that could easily be resold by people desperate for cash. “I think with the economy, as a whole, you’re seeing a lot of people out of work and taking pay cuts, and I think that’s a driving force behind some of these crimes,” Riccio said.