Residents key to stopping crime in town

Hinsdale Police Chief Brian King had a straightforward message for residents during a virtual crime forum Monday night.

Police are working diligently to prevent thieves from stealing cars and finding and arresting those who do. But the best method of crime prevention is for residents to stop leaving their cars unlocked with the key fobs inside.

“I cannot stress enough — we need to get residents to lock their cars overnight and remove their key fobs,” King said.

In just the past four weeks, two cars have been stolen from the village, King said. Police have detected offenders in town and chased them off on five different occasions in the past five weeks.

At 4 a.m. Monday, a patrol officer noticed a vehicle at Eighth and Oak streets with its headlights off moving slowly through the area and discovered it had been stolen from another community and used in other crimes. The officer pursued the vehicle before ultimately ending the chase due to high speeds.

After police arrested seven individuals in March following an increase in car thefts and burglaries, the village experienced a lull in overnight activity.

“That lull is clearly over,” King said.

He expects police will arrest individuals for these recent crimes, but that will not stop the thefts, King said.

“As long as we continue as a community to leave fobs in vehicles, there will continue to be arrests in the future,” he said.

These types of crimes have been on the increase since 2016, King said, with more than 50 cars stolen since that time (see sidebar). The situation is not unique to the village, King said.

“Hinsdale’s experience is consistent with other suburban communities. There’s probably about 100 different municipalities that are hit on these overnight patterns. They go all the way from the North Shore suburbs near Chicago, out west to the Barringtons, out to McHenry County, down through the southwest suburbs,” he said.

Some of the individuals that have been arrested have extensive criminal histories, he said, and surveillance videos have shown some are armed.

“This is not just a property crime issue any more,” he warned. “This is a recipe for disaster waiting to happen.”

He reminded residents that while Hinsdale is a relatively safe community, that doesn’t mean cars should be left unlocked.

“Hinsdale is a low-crime community,” he said. “It is not a no crime community.”

King spent a few minutes reviewing the details of an Aug. 7 incident in which a Hinsdale man was carjacked in the parking lot of Standard Market in Westmont at 2 o’clock in the afternoon.

A week later, someone rang the bell at the victim’s home, looked through the windows and left, King said.

“We are attempting to identify the vehicle to track it to see if this suspicious incident is in fact related in any part of the carjacking incident that occurred in Westmont,” King said.

In response to one of the questions submitted by a resident, King said he believes the police department is adequately staffed.

“If I thought Hinsdale needed more police officers I would ask for it,” he said.

Another resident asked why the thieves keep targeting Hinsdale.

“It really has to do with the proliferation of these unlocked fobs in these luxury vehicles,” he said. “They go where they know they can score.”

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean