City’s burglary rate on the rise

By Gus Bode

People in Carbondale are more than 75 percent likely to get burgled in Carbondale than in Champaign and Urbana.

According to the most recent Illinois State Police records, the city’s burglary rate is also more than two times higher than Bloomington’s, a figure authorities and townspeople attribute in part to neglected housing and poor locks.

Carbondale’s student population contributes to the high crime rate, Arbor District Neighborhood Association leaders said. Student housing and rentals sometimes lack the maintenance needed to be secure, and during school breaks, students leave houses unattended for days or weeks, the leaders said.


Tom Grant, a division manager for the city’s development services department, said the department performs mandatory rental inspections. If residents find problems the department will investigate.

“Typically we go out to see if the complaint is legitimate, and we take the opportunity to write up any violations,” Grant said. “Usually it turns into a mandatory rental inspection.”

He said the city checks rentals every three years and a rental inspection should be done before moving in.

When city officials find violations the landlord is contacted and given 30 days to repair it. After the time is up, if the repair is not complete, a judge sets a fine. Landlords are charged every day after the initial 30 days until the repair is finished. Grant said fines range from $50 to $750 a day.

Carbondale Police Officer Randy Mathis said the department offers free home inspections to make homes safer.

“As long as they’re a resident of Carbondale. I can make an appointment to meet them at their residence and review their lighting, landscaping and locking systems to reduce the potential of crime,” he said.

Mathis said inspectors look for areas that criminals could use to hide. The inspection also advises residents on the best locks for their home. The inspections are available for students, renters and homeowners, he said.


Sandy Litecky, president of the Arbor District Neighborhood Association, said she encourages students in her area to get proper lighting, which is not required by city code.

“[Lighting] is encouraged, and that’s one thing that we encourage students to do and contact their landlord,” Litecky said.

Jane Adams, an anthropology professor and member of the Arbor District, said students in her area north of campus are targeted more than homeowners.

“The homeowners are rarely bothered,” Adams said. “But the kids in their apartments, during breaks and even during the semester, they’ll get ripped off.”

Adams said students are targeted more because they have newer equipment, and they have poor home maintenance.

“The maintenance of their houses is often not good, so they become easy to break into,” Adams said.

City code specifies that houses must have locks on first-floor windows and 1-inch deadbolts on doors.

When students leave for vacations, Litecky said they should inform neighbors and police.

“There’s a number of things they can do, they can let their neighbors know,” Litecky said. “You can fill out a form for the police department to tell them when you’re gone and what lights will be on, and then they’ll routinely check the place.”

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