Mayor candidates may say Belleville burglaries are bungling or statistical blip

“Crime in Illinois” reports compiled by Illinois State Police show total burglaries in Belleville for the past 15 years.
“Crime in Illinois” reports compiled by Illinois State Police show total burglaries in Belleville for the past 15 years. bweisenstein@bnd.com

If you chart the burglaries in Belleville for the past 15 years, a pattern emerges: The same pattern a roller coaster makes.

The one safe conclusion is that you should expect 300 to 500 burglaries a year in the city. That means for about every 50 houses in your neighborhood, one is likely to get hit this year.

Donna Young, president of Belleville’s Highland Neighborhood Association, offered some common-sense advice: “You don’t want to say, ‘Oh, it’s going to be bad here.’ This stuff happens everywhere. You can’t run and hide. The police only have so many resources, so it’s up to us to help protect our neighborhood.”

She said the thing to do is get to know the neighbors and their habits and work to protect each other. She said people need to be observant and lock the doors on their homes and vehicles.

After her burglary, neighborhood resident Alissa Valdejo suggests locking windows, making sure the burglar alarm is set and getting motion-sensor lights and a surveillance system.

Their neighborhood group tonight will host the two candidates for Belleville mayor, incumbent Mark Eckert and current City Clerk Dallas Cook. The forum is 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Douglas School gym, 125 Carlyle Ave. Crime is sure to come up, and likely burglaries in particular.

Cook already announced plans to fire Belleville Police Chief Bill Clay if elected. The two-year spike in burglaries is Exhibit A.

Clay said you can’t draw conclusions from such a short view. He also said burglars walk around seeking the easy opportunity, so the more you do to make it tough on them the less chance it will happen to you.

The forum is the first chance for Belleville residents to discuss the problem and size up the candidates. The second will be a debate at 7 p.m. March 28 at Lindenwood University-Belleville, 2600 W. Main St.

Attending one of the events will help you make a better decision regarding who will and how to best address crime in Belleville. Just make sure you lock your doors when you head out either evening.