Robberies and Burglaries: Are Retail Crimes in Frankfort on the Rise?

The Frankfort Police Department weighs in on what recent incidents, such as the Radio Shack robbery and Tobacco House burglary, mean for the village.

Between the armed robbery at Radio Shack earlier this month and the burglary at Tobacco House that occurred only a few days later, retail crimes have been a hot topic in Frankfort news this November.

But do these incidents signify a larger trend that similar crimes are becoming increasing common in Frankfort?

Several Patch readers recently expressed concern regarding retail crime in the area, so Patch sat down with Frankfort Deputy Police Chief Kevin Keegan to discuss retail robbery and burglary in Frankfort.

Robberies and burglaries in Frankfort have decreased in recent years, according to documents provided by the Frankfort Police Department.

In 2007, Frankfort experienced six robberies and 37 burglaries. So far in 2012, the police have encountered one robbery and 28 burglaries. Current robbery and burglary counts are comparable to village numbers from 10 years ago, although Frankfort did see a spike in these crimes during the mid-2000s.

Documents from the Will County Sheriff’s Office state that the county recorded 574 burglaries in 2010. 14 of these burglaries occurred in Frankfort, according to documents from the Frankfort Police Department.

Keegan said that when robberies and burglaries do occur in Frankfort, they are rarely committed by village residents. Robbers and burglars are typically residents of the south suburbs or Chicago. These individuals do not usually live in communities directly neighboring Frankfort, said Keegan.

Criminals who chose to commit crimes in Frankfort do so partially because of the village’s proximity to major highways, according to Keegan.

“They want to get in and get out as fast as they can,” he said.

Commercial growth in Frankfort is another cause for retail theft.

Keegan said that retail crime in Frankfort mimics patterns at the regional level.

Frankfort has experienced four tobacco store burglaries since June, three of which occurred at Tobacco House.

According to Keegan, this could be the work of organized crews of professional cigarette burglars. Keegan said that cigarettes are easy to move and impossible to trace. The crews resell the stolen cigarettes to convenience stores through an underground black market.

The Frankfort Police Department is taking several measures to prevent robberies and burglaries at local retail establishments. Officers conduct daily foot patrols of businesses. The Frankfort Chamber of Commerce hosts an annual luncheon, where police department representatives speak to local business owners about crime trends and prevention. The police department also conducts security assessments for Frankfort homeowners and business owners.

However, in recent years, the police department has lost multiple officers who have not yet been replaced. Keegan said he would like to see the department hire more police officers, noting that many police departments have downsized due to the economy. The Frankfort Police Department currently employs 29 sworn officers and two part time officers.

Keegan said that residents can assist the department by remaining aware of their surroundings, following their instincts and contacting the police if something seems amiss.

“Your gut is usually right,” said Keegan.

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