“A Safe Environment” – Q&A with Police Chief Christopher Kennedy

“A Safe Environment” – Q&A with Police Chief Christopher Kennedy

Northbrook was in the news in late 2021 when a luxury store at Northbrook Court was targeted with merchandise thefts. Despite these dramatic events, actual crime statistics indicate that Northbrook continues to be a very safe community overall. In addition, the Northbrook Police Department is investing in new technology to help with both crime deterrence and investigation. Below, Chief Christopher Kennedy shares his perspectives on the amount and type of criminal activity in Northbrook, and how business owners can best protect themselves.

Q: The recent thefts at Northbrook Court received a lot of media attention. Do they reflect a trend of increasing dangerous crime in the Village?

As you are aware, there were two incidents in the last six months where a single store was the victim of retail theft at the hands of two large, organized groups. Being reflective of a national trend, both incidents drew attention on the news and social media. While it is concerning to watch the video of one of those thefts, it does not accurately reflect the safe environment that exists at Northbrook Court. Village-wide, the current data for 2021 indicates that Northbrook could experience the least amount of retail thefts in the last five years. Crimes that have greater effect on individual victims, such as armed robbery, robbery, burglary and residential burglary and home invasion are all flat or below five-year averages.

Northbrook Court has been a safe location and I believe it remains a safe location as we focus on continued safety improvements. I shop there and just last week my pre-teen daughter was a customer as well!

What steps have been taken to improve security at Northbrook Court? How does the Police Department work with the shopping center to maintain safety for store owners and guests?        

Steps have been taken to tighten security and build a physical environment to further discourage organized retail crime. This has been done in partnership with Northbrook Court management and their security team, individual retailers, Northbrook PD, and the Cook County Sherriff’s Police.  Safety and security have been improved by the way retailers are now securing their products and stores, along with additional security including K9 and a fixed law enforcement presence during mall hours. Finally, there are new technology features have been added to further safeguard the location.  Investigations of the two organized retail theft incidents are progressing forward, in partnership with several local police departments and our federal partners.

The Village Board recently approved five new license-plate cameras that will be deployed near Northbrook Court and Skokie Boulevard. How will these cameras support law enforcement functions?

The Automatic License Plate Reader (ALPR) system scans a license plate or temporary tag, or notes the lack of visible license plate, and instantaneously compares it to a number of law enforcement indexes.  Our police dispatchers can then immediately notify our officers for investigation of identified issues. Alternatively, should a crime occur, ALPR-captured images of involved vehicles quickly open avenues for investigative follow-up.

What types of crime are most commonly experienced by businesses in Northbrook? Have any of these categories significantly increased in the past few years?

The following categories of crime affect businesses in Northbrook: Retail Theft, Employee Theft, Forgeries, and Identity Theft. Below are the number of incidents in each category:

*2020 began a national trend of Unemployment Benefits Identity Theft and the Village of Northbrook’s numbers follow that trend.

Do you have tips for small business owners on how to reduce the risk of these types of incidents?

Measures like security cameras, loss prevention training for staff, strategic placement of merchandise, door greeters, and merchandise protection systems (alarms) are all good ways to reduce your risk. It is important to sign criminal complaints, as offenders become aware when a business has a practice of not signing complaints and this news travels within the criminal community.

Alerting Police and the Village of special events that might draw large crowds and considering hiring private security or off-duty Police details are also effective deterrents to crime.

Chief Kennedy welcomes questions from the business community. He can be contacted at Christopher.kennedy@northbrook.il.us.