Sunday, January 18, 2015

JUKING THE STATS: Robberies Shine Light On Statistics Game

Police sought this man for theft. 
But prosecutors have charged a
suspect with felony robbery.
Fresh questions about the Chicago Police Department's classification of violent crimes are rising to the surface today as prosecutors announce robbery charges against a 17-year-old in connection with cell phone "thefts" at the Wilson Red Line Station.

The Chicago Police Department issued an alert in the case on Friday and the boy, who lives just a couple of blocks from the station, was arrested over the weekend.

But here’s the riddle: If prosecutors have charged the teen with two felony counts of robbery, why are at least two of the cases classified as theft by the police department?(Classification information for the third case is not yet available to the public.)

The city's data portal shows that the police department classified two of the crimes as
misdemeanor theft. Information on the third crime is not yet available to the public.
 
Thefts, by law,
are non-violent crimes like taking someone’s phone off of a restaurant table. But, robbery is a violent crime—taking something by using physical force or threatening the use of force against a victim.

The Chicago Police Department, under pressure to improve upon impossible-to-believe double-digit crime “reductions,” is keenly interested in having as many robberies reduced to “thefts” as possible.

Chicago magazine’s 2014 report on the department’s crime-fudging methods is a must read for the unfamiliar.

Not Isolated

In another case that raises questions, a victim reported to police that he was robbed of his iPhone5 in Wrigleyville last year by three offenders who were "punching him in the face with closed fists."

The case, seemingly a straight-forward robbery, is classified as "theft" by the police department.

And fresh questions about classification are being raised this weekend.

As CWB reported earlier today, a man reported being beaten and robbed by a group of men in the 1100 block of School yesterday morning. For reasons that have not yet been explained by the police department, his case was classified as misdemeanor simple battery.

Police are said to be looking into the circumstances and classification of Saturday's incident.
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