Police report lower crime levels in Champaign-Urbana

While some are worried the troubled economy may lead to more crime, University, Urbana and Champaign police have continued to see a decline.

Police are working to keep both campus and the community safe, and while there is no surefire way for students to avoid victimization, knowing the facts about crime in the area may help.

Urbana

Crime has trended downward in Urbana for the past four years, said the Urbana Police Department’s chief of police, Mike Bily.

Crime runs in “cycles,” Bily said, but the reasons behind the dips and highs are hard to determine.

Currently, Urbana police have been facing a spike in vehicle burglaries, Bily said. He added that many of the vehicles had been left unlocked.

In 2007, Urbana’s total crime rate per 100,000 people fell by 12 percent, according to the state’s 2007 Uniform Crime Report.

Bily said the 2008 report will be released soon and will show a further decline for that year, but he does not know if the pattern will continue.

Champaign

Crime in Champaign continues to decrease, said Gary Spear, a crime analyst who tracks patterns and trends for Champaign police.

In 2008, “serious crimes” such as burglaries, sexual assault and violent crimes fell by 2.8 percent, Spear said.

Police have been working to be proactive in identifying trends and catching crooks, not waiting for a suspect to mess up or get caught for something else, Spear said.

“We still have three pretty stable economic engines driving our economy,” Spear said, referring to the University, Carle Hospital and Provena Hospital. He said he thinks this will insulate the community from a significant rise in crime.

A spree of vehicle and residential burglaries hit Champaign hard earlier this year, but the arrest of six suspects police believe to be responsible has led to a sharp decline in such burglaries.

University

“There’s really no one spot (on campus) that’s really more dangerous than any other,” said Lt. Skip Frost, head of the University police’s patrol division.

Frost said theft of unattended items is the biggest problem for University police.

“It is a pretty safe campus, but it’s still the real world,” Frost said.

A string of armed robberies earlier this year interrupted a generally slow year for crime, Frost said.

TIP: To avoid theft, do not leave your door unlocked or leave your things out while you take a nap at the Union.

TIP: “If you see anything that doesn’t look right, smell right, taste right, trust your instincts,” Frost said.