In August, police reported that at least seven people were mugged in Lincoln Park, with four of those attacks believed to have been by the same individuals.
Two months ago, stories of nighttime muggings in Lincoln Park were daily news, creating a buzz of concern in the neighborhood and in the media.
Today the dust has settled, but some residents are left wondering if Lincoln Park is as safe a place as they once thought it was.
“I never thought about it in the past, and now we joke about it a little bit, but I kind of think twice now when I’m outside,” said Elise Schott, a DePaul student and resident of Lincoln Park. “I guess if it happens once, it can happen again.”
However, according to Barbara Guttmann, legislative aid to Ald. Vi Daley (43rd), while concerns like Schott’s are valid, there is little to worry about.
“It was news because it was unusual,” said Guttmann. “I cannot recall anything like this happening in the past, and we don’t see it as something to worry about in the future.”
Guttmann said an increased police presence ended the public threat.
“There was a greatly increased number of police forces on the streets both in uniform and out of uniform,” Guttmann said.
A suspect related to the muggings was apprehended, but on Aug. 12, he was released, according to Chicago Police. Following that, media coverage for the incidents and the suspects dropped off the radar.
“The police were hoping to come up with additional evidence, so they have been following that person,” said Guttmann, “but he eventually left the state, along with another person suspected of the crime. They were both prime suspects.”
Guttmann did not know the identity of the suspects.
Since August, there have been at least five arrests in relation to the muggings, however Area 3 Detectives are still investigating the incidents, according to Sgt. Karla Chaplin of the Chicago Police Department’s Office of News Affairs.
Still, not every resident worries about walking the streets at night. “I don’t really think about it; it doesn’t bother me any,” said Tony Valdivieso, a DePaul student and resident of the neighborhood. “If you’re smart, you’ll be fine.”
In fact, in a personally conducted, unscientific survey of students in Lincoln Park near DePaul University’s campus, only four of 20 individuals asked said that they have taken extra precaution or changed their routines when walking the neighborhood at night.
Guttmann said that while she believes the neighborhood is one of the safest in the city, she acknowledges there is still always a risk. To remind the residents of that, the alderman holds between three or four safety seminars a year, as needed.
“It’s nothing that’s pre-planned,” Guttmann said. “We may be looking to make them more planned, but right now it’s something we hold around times of the year we think there may be more risk. We usually do them around the holidays, when criminal activity picks up. We did hold one during the time the muggings were occurring at the Lincoln Park Cultural Center.”
“A lot of seminars are reminders more than anything else,” Guttmann said, “because sometimes people become so complacent that they don’t remember they live in a city that is filled with people who you do not know.”
Guttmann recommends that residents always be aware of their surroundings, try to stay on lit paths at night, try not to walk alone at night and always carry a phone with them.