Illegal firearms, fleeing drivers among top issues for Naperville police

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A rise in illegal firearm seizures as well as incidents of fleeing and eluding the police are two of the top concerns of Naperville police after trends have shown an increase in both.

Those were just two of the statistics noted at Tuesday’s Naperville Crime and Incident Data Report presentation, held at the Naperville Police Department.

More than half of illegal firearms seized during traffic stops

The city saw an increase in illegal firearm seizures last year, with 198 seized in 2022 compared to 146 in 2021. More than half of those were seized during traffic stops. The city says that approximately 25% of the people charged with firearms violations in 2022 were Naperville residents. 

“I can’t say what we prevented or how much of that what we did, but I have no doubt we prevented shootings, whether it was in Naperville or some other community by being proactive with that,” said Naperville Police Chief Jason Arres.

The city now has new rules to enforce regarding weapons, with the enactment of both the city’s high-powered rifle sales ban and the state’s recently adopted assault weapons ban. 

“We enacted the ordinance and we have to figure out what that looks like. Now, obviously, if someone makes a complaint, like I think the complaint-based one and it’s a credible complaint that business X, Y or Z is violating the ordinance and the law. But in terms of proactive enforcement, I don’t even know what that looks like because we don’t have that completely figured out,” Arres said.

Arres said they would look to state police to help guide the department in this area.

Fleeing and eluding continues to rise across the country

Numbers of those fleeing and eluding police are on the rise as well, both across the country and locally. 137 cases were reported in Naperville in 2022, with 102 in 2021. 

Naperville police took action on this issue last year, asking the city to impose a $900 fee for the registered owner of any vehicle that flees police. With that ordinance now in effect, it’s a move that Arres says helps the department recoup its administrative costs. 

“I’m hoping that word gets out and that makes people think twice about maybe who they’re lending their car to or think twice about fleeing from the police. And I know Illinois chiefs are working with a couple of legislators about increasing the penalty,” said Arres.

The majority of reported crime in Naperville

Chief Arres and his staff say that nearly 60% of the reported crime in Naperville in 2022 was property crime.

Overall, property crime saw a decrease in 2022. NPD data shows the final six months of 2022 saw 23 less burglaries compared to those same months in  2021. Vandalism went down from 167 incidents to 138 for those same periods. And theft from a motor vehicle also saw a decrease in the final six months of 2022, going down from 112 in 2021 to 62 last year.

On the other hand, theft of motor vehicle parts saw an increase, climbing from 86 reported incidents in the second half of 2021, to 118 in the second half of 2022. The majority of those incidents were catalytic converter and license plate tag thefts.

One more statistic that saw an increase: fatal drug overdoses climbed from two reported incidents in 2021 to nine in 2023. 

Robbery numbers drop

One of the standout statistics for Chief Arres was the number of reported robberies in 2022.

“13 robberies. I can’t think of the last time a robbery number was that low… I’m going to our benchmarks cities conference in March, 30 cities from throughout the country. I can’t wait to see what other cities that are like Naperville, because that’s what benchmark cities are. It’s a lot of other Naperville-like communities out there, I’ll get made fun of again because of how low our robbery numbers are,” said Arres.

Naperville police say to lock up your vehicles

The NPD continues to remind residents to lock up their vehicles, as almost 95% of car burglaries reported last year occurred in unlocked vehicles. 

“I will harp on it again like I harp on it every year and Chief Marshall harped on it before me,” said Arres. “Lock your stuff, right? I mean, from the car burglary standpoint, about 4% of our car burglaries were forced entry. Think about how just by locking our cars, how much crime could have been prevented in this town.”

Of the 50 motor vehicles that were reported stolen, force was used just about 10% of the time. The NPD says that the keys had been left in many of the vehicles that were stolen.

Newer data and reporting system for Naperville Police

The NPD moved from the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) to the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) in July, 2021. It was mandated for all law agencies by the federal government to make the switch. The department noted for that reason it was only able to report trend data for the final six months of 2022 within its report, which is available in full on the NPD website.

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