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After car break-ins, Chicago South Loop residents doubt ideas for solutions

South Loop Chicago neighbors question plan to stop car break-ins
South Loop Chicago neighbors question plan to stop car break-ins 02:34

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Residents along one street in the South Loop woke up a couple of weeks ago to a row of cars that had all had their windows bashed in.

Some of the residents have since been left mystified by the plan to stop future break-ins – which involved tree trimming, of all things.

People park nightly on the stretch of Indiana Avenue where the break-ins happened – and it leaves them uneasy, considering vandals continue to break into cars often.

So to deter thieves, Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd) has decided to clip some trees, and has upped the watts of streetlights.

But some question whether those moves amount to a decent fix.

In the middle of February, car after car was left with busted windows – and glass littered Indiana Avenue from Roosevelt Road south to 18th Street.

"I think people worry about the safety of the neighborhood when there's car break-ins," said South Loop resident Chris Beeken.

Beeken has lived in the South Loop for a decade. He realizes what happened in the incident – in which 25 vehicles were targeted at once – cannot become the norm.

"I don't know if an additional police presence would help with that," Beeken said.

Instead of additional officers, Ald. Dowell told CBS 2 that the Chicago Department of Transportation just replaced 35 light fixtures with more wattage to brighten up the block.

"There is concern, at least for me, of putting up too much lighting where it affects neighbors and it's coming into people's windows and stuff like that," said Beeken. "You know, they want to be able to sleep at night."

And that may be harder, because there are also now plans to trim trees. The purpose is to make it easier to identify vandals when three more police cameras pop up.

"What are trees and lights going to do?" said South Loop resident Meghann Jackson.

Jackson questions if the extra lights and trimming are really a deterrent – or something else.

"I think it's just performative action. I don't think the lights adding higher voltage will do anything," Jackson said. "And I mean - why tear down trees?"

Jackson said that often while walking her dogs, she notices one thing is missing along Indiana Avenue – where similar car break-ins have also happened numerous times in the past six months.

"I don't think I've ever seen police coming up and down Indiana," Jackson said. "They're all on Michigan or on State."

Ald. Dowell considers the lights, cameras, and trimming to be immediate solutions for those parking.

"Worried if they have to park their car on the street again, are they going to get hit?" said Beeken.

The tree-trimming is expected to start sometime this spring. The lights have already been replaced, and surveillance cameras should be up very soon, CBS 2 is told.

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