As Evanston police prepare to close the books on 2011, major crime in the city appears to have declined for the year, though at a slower pace than in 2010.

The city recorded a 12.4 percent drop in the crimes tracked by the FBI in 2010. Through November of 2011, Police Cmdr. Jay Parrott says, the year-to-date decline is 2.3 percent.

The city has recorded three homicides so far this year, compared to five in all of last year.

(A since-rescinded change in the types of incidents included in the FBI homicide count, to include unexplained deaths from drug overdoses, initially boosted the 2010 homicide count to 7, and would have raised this year’s count to 4, Parrott says.)

The homicide victims this year are:

  • Taxicab driverLeodis Blackburn,shot in the head while driving his cab in the 500 block of Elmwood Avenue about 2 a.m. on Sunday, May 15. Blackburn died a few days later at St. Francis Hospital.Darien Lawrence Marquez-Connerly, 19, of Chicago, has been charged with first degree murder in the death.
  • Juan L. Sanchez, 34, of 1223 Dodge Ave., found beaten to death on Sunday, July 17,in his apartment after a fight during a party the night before. A neighbor, Ricardo E. Munoz, 35, of 1225 Dodge Ave., has been charged with first degree murderin the death.
  • John Costulas, 61, of Chicago, died of injuries suffered when he was the victim of an unprovoked attack as hewalkedto work about 5:20 a.m. on Sept. 2in the 500 block of Howard Street.Brandon Lee Allen Hinton, 26, of 17823 Stonebridge Drive in Hazel Crest, has been charged with first degree murder in the death.

For major crimes other than homicide, the statistics through November are:

  • Rape — down 37.5 percent from 8 incidents in 2010 to 5 this year.
  • Robbery — up 15.9 percent from 63 incidents to 73.
  • Aggravated battery and assault — down 26.9 percent from 119 incidents to 87.
  • Burglary — down 7.6 percent from 397 incidents to 367.
  • Thefts — up 0.5 percent from 1,514 incidents to 1,522.
  • Motor vehicle theft — down 14.8 percent from 54 incidents to 46.
  • Arson — up 38.5 percent from 13 incidents to 18.

The crime rate in Evanston now is less than half what it was a decade ago.

Top: Police at the scene of the taxi driver shooting on May 15.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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