Chicago crime spikes in 2022, but first drop in murder since pandemic
Crime tops the list of concerns for Chicago voters in the mayoral election after 2022 brought the most crime in five years and after 2021 was the deadliest year in the past quarter-century.
Chicago failed to find itself among the Top 10 in a recent analysis of the most dangerous cities in the United States, but crime still tops the list of concerns facing voters, according to a recent poll.
Voting in the Chicago mayoral election is well underway as registered voters enter the final week to cast their vote early or the final days to apply to vote by mail. Among Chicagoans planning to cast a ballot, 44% said crime and public safety are the most important issues guiding their decision in the mayor’s race.
Chicago crime statistics
Crime in Chicago overall has increased during the past five years by nearly 20%, according to an official report by the Chicago Police Department. The year-over-year change in crime was even greater last year. Between 2021 and 2022, overall crime in Chicago increased by 41%, after overall crime had decreased each year in 2019 and 2020 and slightly increased in 2021.
Theft is driving the overall increase in crime. Car theft is up 114% since 2018, and other thefts increased by 32% since 2018. Just last year, motor vehicle theft increased by 102% and theft by 56%.
Meanwhile, instances of criminal sexual assault, robbery, aggravated battery and burglary have all decreased during the five-year period. Burglary had the biggest decline with 35% fewer instances in 2022 than in 2018.
Despite a five-year decline in robbery and burglary, the year-over-year change showed each increased last year by 14%. Criminal sexual assault and aggravated battery still recorded declines in the past year. Murders also declined last year by 14%, despite an overall increase of 20% during the five-year period.
Chicago in 2022 recorded the fewest homicides since before the pandemic. In the first year of the pandemic – between 2019 and 2020 – murders in Chicago increased by 55%. Homicides increased again in 2021 to 804, which marked one of the deadliest years Chicago has experienced in the past quarter-century.
Despite the decrease in homicides last year, there were only three other years since 2000 in which Chicago had more homicides than it did in 2022 – and all three of those years took place recently, in 2016, 2020 and 2021.
Crime drives out Chicago residents
In 2021, Chicago saw more than 45,000 people stop calling the city their home. Only two other big cities had more residents move away compared to Chicago. New York and San Francisco both experienced greater populations losses than Chicago, with New York losing over 305,000 people.
But population loss isn’t the only similarity Chicago and New York share. Both cities had a drop in murders in 2022 compared to 2021. Yet both cities also had overall crime jump by over 20%.
In the recent poll of Chicago voters, nearly two-thirds admitted they don’t feel safe. Illinois Policy Institute recently analyzed crime at restaurants along the Red Line, the busiest route on the Chicago Transit Authority’s “L” system of elevated trains, and found Chicago restaurants reported four crimes for every five licensed locations near a station. The most common crime reported by these restaurateurs was theft, followed by battery.
The Red Line serves as a barometer for the No. 1 concern in Chicago: crime. And the restaurants along the line serve to gauge the public’s exposure to crime.
Crime is not Chicagoans’ only trouble. Chicago’s debt per taxpayer remains the nation’s second highest at $41,900, driven by pension debt.
Chicago Public Schools is spending 55% more to educate 20% fewer students. During negotiations over the current contract between the Chicago Teachers Union and CPS in 2019, the union forced district students to miss 11 instruction days and ultimately left Chicago taxpayers with the bill for the expensive contract. Despite the increased spending, educational outcomes in the district have plummeted.
Chicago is full of woes, but it can be fixed. If the city addresses its pension debt and deficit budgets, there will be more money to cure the city’s other woes.