By Tyler Borjas and Brandon Wilson
Logan Square is known for its thriving cultural sense with cool and hip restaurants, bars and music venues. But for some, it is now garnering a reputation for safety concern.
“I am on social media quite a bit and I follow some local newsgroups,” said Logan Square resident Julian Sarabia. “That’s definitely how I’ve noticed an uptick in activity. That has led me to be more aware of my surroundings than I used to.”
Sarabia is one of the many residents of the Logan Square neighborhood who have noticed an increase in crime over the last couple of years, like many neighborhoods in Chicago.
Logan Square falls under the 14th Police District, which, according to the Office of Public Safety Association has seen a 36% increase in crime overall between 2022 and 2023.
This includes an 86% increase in motor vehicle theft, a 20% increase in theft, an 11% increase in burglary and a 57% increase in robbery.
When comparing 2019 to 2023, total crime in the 14th District has gone up 52%. With motor vehicle theft more than tripling, theft rising 25% and robbery more than doubling.
CWBChicago on X/Twitter, an account that covers public safety issues on the North Side, is one of the accounts Sarabia follows to stay updated on current events and what’s going on near him.
“I don’t have to worry as much,” Sarabia said when asked about the neighborhood’s police presence. “I’ve kind of always felt that way in Logan (Square), I’ve noticed police cars on every corner that I turn around locally.”
He added that he lives near the 14th District Police Station and that it gives him a little more peace of mind. Though he does know some who have been affected.
“One of my friends got his Kia broken into,” Sarabia said. “That has more to do with the trend.”
Sarabia was referring to a now-blacklisted hashtag and trend named the Kia Boyz. A group of young individuals ranging from teenagers to young adults, stealing Kias and Hyundais and posting their results to social media.
With motor vehicle theft more than tripled since 2019 in the district, it is a widespread issue among residents. Logan Square resident Ricardo Lupercio is also one who’s seen someone affected by this rise.
“Increased crime in the area hasn’t affected me personally,” Lupercio said. “But I have some relatives who’ve been put in risky situations right near our house.”
“My sister and her boyfriend almost got their car stolen while they were still in it,” Lupercio said.
In addition to residents being affected by the uptick in crime, local businesses are being hit hard not only through crime but because the increase in crime deters people from other parts of the city that want to come to the neighborhood to enjoy the community.
West Loop resident Conor Halm said that while he used to regularly visit the neighborhood, the increase in crime has made him think harder about coming to the area.
“I’m really into music and I love going to concerts or bars with live music,” Halm said. “There’s a lot of great music venues around that area with artists that I like so I love going up there.”
“But to be honest I don’t feel as safe anymore as I used to and I kind of feel like less willing to go up there as much as I would have in the past,” Halm said.
He said that when he does go, he tries to keep a lower profile than he would have in the past.
“It’s definitely made me less of an outgoing person,” Halm said. “I’m more in the mode of keeping your head down, get where you’re going, and be on your way.”
While Logan Square has been seeing an increase in crime, Chicago citizens will say that this is only one out of many examples of an issue that is plaguing many neighborhoods around the city.
Citywide crime statistics show that the total crime across the city has gone up 21% from 2022 to 2023, according to the Office of Public Safety Association. When looking at the percentage change from 2019 to 2023, those same statistics show a 56% rise in total crime.
The increase in crime was the main topic last February when Chicagoans headed to the polls for the 2023 mayoral election.
Incumbent Mayor Lori Lightfoot did not make it to the runoff, and voters went for progressive newcomer Brandon Johnson over Paul Vallas.
Johnson made five promises to increase public safety within the city: Add 200 detectives to the CPD, remove ShotSpotter, expand mental health elements to crisis 911 calls, create new trauma centers, and boost efforts against domestic violence, per Chicago Sun-Times.
Johnson’s ideology isn’t necessarily the popular opinion when it comes to ShotSpotters. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, a poll taken by the company in 2022 found that 72% of Chicagoans supported the ShotSpotters within their neighborhoods.
Being aware of your surroundings has become more important than ever as anyone can fall victim to these crimes. Chicago’s Northwest side can easily become just as vulnerable to crime as any part of the city can.
The problem doesn’t seem to be getting fixed anytime soon, leaving citizens like Halm to come up with their own solutions.
“I’m not sure if there’s any kind of neighborhood watch or anything like that,” Halm said. “I hope that they can do something to improve the current situation.”
What do you think these rising crime rates and unsafe environments mean for the neighborhood? Leave a comment below.