The number of violent crime incidents reportable to the FBI increased by nearly 15 percent in Evanston last year, while the number of property crimes declined by just under four percent.

The full-year statistics were released by Evanston Police over the weekend.

Because property crimes are much more numerous than violent crimes, the city saw an overall reduction in the crime rate reflected in the FBI numbers of a little under three percent.

The year’s three homicide victims were Yakez Semark, 20, who was shot to death on Feb. 8 in the 1800 block of Hovland Court; Tanuel Major, 49, who was found beaten to death Nov. 19 outside First United Methodist Church, and Larry Cox, 56,  who died Jan. 26 of injuries resulting from gunshot wounds he suffered on Dec. 30 in the 2000 block of Wesley Avenue.

Two men have been charged with Semark’s murder. No charges have been filed in the other two cases.

Police Cmdr. Ryan Glew said new Police Chief Demitrous Cook has responded to a surge in violent crime on Howard Street toward the end of the year by increasing targeted patrols in that area.

He said a surge in robberies early last year was halted after police arrested and charged the crew that had been responsiible for many of the crimes.

Glew said it appeared early last year that property crimes were trending down sharply, but the city saw an uptick in those incidents last quarter — especially with a surge in December of burglaries of off-campus apartments housing Northwestern University students.

Most home and car burglaries involve unsecured homes and cars, Glew said, or situations where burglars can gain entry easily — for example by removing a poorly secured window air conditioner.

He said the police are promoting efforts to educate the public about securing their belongings.

“I can’t say that locking things up is a silver bullet,” he added, “But it de-incentivizes burglars and encourages them to move on to an area where they feel burglaries would be easier.”

Crime rates in Evanston have generally been declining for decades. When Police Chief Richard Eddington announced in July that he would retire at the end of the year, the department noted that FBI Part One crimes had declined from about 3,100 incidents when he took the job in 2007 to just under 1,900 incidents in 2017. For 2018 the total number of incidents was 1,848.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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