ROCKFORD (WIFR) – Rockford’s crime rate is always a hot topic, but Police say there are some signs of improvement.
Auto theft is one of the biggest issues on the East Side Rockford right now. 13 cars were stolen last month, up 44% from January.
In the last month, three vehicles from this parking lot near Alpine and Broadway were stolen. They were all left running and unattended. The police department says it's a problem that's happening all over the city and it can be easily avoided. It only takes a second for somebody to hop in their car and take off.
“It just doesn't seem to make sense to leave yourself that wide open for someone to commit a crime,” said Larry Bernier.
Overall, Rockford police say crime is down. Aggravated batteries and shots fired are down 19 percent. Robberies dropped 42 percent and burglary is down 49 percent. Chief Chet Epperson attributes the drop to daily meetings with officers.
"We're taking a look at some crime data and some violent crime data and mapping it and then drilling down what the specifics are, then coming back after about four or five days and seeing what strategies are in place and did it have any impact,” said Chief Epperson. “So not only do we meet here formally once a month, we're doing it formally on a daily basis."
Police officers have been looking for people who are heating up their cars and warning them of the thefts. They’re also passing around a flyer that is both in English and Spanish warning citizens of auto thefts.
Although people might think automatic car starters are safe to use, Police say that’s not the case. According to the department, 50% of the auto thefts happened to people who were using automatic car starters. Most people think that’s the safest way to go, but thieves have found a way to take those too.