Evanston, Illinois is only 12 miles north of downtown Chicago. While considerably smaller than Chicago, with a population of approximately 75,000, Evanston is struggling with many of the same problems although not to the same degree. While Evanston is more dangerous to live in than most cities, it is less dangerous than Chicago. That may not be much comfort to Evanston residents who worry about protecting their homes and families.
Police Chief Richard Eddington reported that there were approximately 10 different gangs and 500 gang members in Evanston. Most of the violent crime in Evanston involves teens or young adults, typical for gang crimes. By comparison, there are about 100,000 gang members in Chicago. Since Evanston is only about a 15-20 minute drive from Gang Central, Evanston residents are also concerned that Chicago gang members will bring crime into their neighborhoods.
Evanston residents who qualify are allowed to keep a handgun in their residences and carry a concealed handgun for the purpose of self-protection. In 2013, Illinois became to last state in the U.S. to approve a concealed carry law after the U.S. Court of Appeals struck down Illinois’s prohibition against concealed carry as a violation of the Second Amendment.
Evanston’s most dangerous neighborhoods border Lake Michigan, with the worst area being near Church St. and Chicago Ave. The neighborhoods around Sheridan Rd. and Main St. are also considered high-crime areas. In general, south Evanston, closer to Chicago, is more dangerous than north Evanston. Evanston has more crime than 79% of all cities in the U.S.In 2015, there were 159 violent crimes and 2,120 property crimesAn Evanston resident has a 1:476 chance of becoming a violent crime victimAn Evanston resident has a 1:36 chance of having something stolen – not very good odds
Neighborhood awareness is always important. If suspicious strangers are spotted in or near the building, calling 911 is always recommended. Unfortunately, many people are afraid to become involved with anything that could be gang activity.
In Evanston, many of those living in the most crime-ridden neighborhoods rent apartments. Many of the same precautions apply to an apartment or a single family home, but securing an apartment can be difficult if the landlord won’t provide solid doors or building security. Secure all doors with sturdy deadbolts or metal bars in the track of a sliding door. If a window on an upper story is next to a fire escape, that window must be locked. Casement windows can be secured with a lock similar to a door bolt that uses a key. A key track stop is a window locking device that will keep a window completely closed or allow it to open only a certain amount for ventilation. A locking pin prevents an intruder from opening a double hung window. Other possible window locks include ventilating locks, hinged wedge locks and keyed turnbuckle locks.
Privacy fences and thick shrubbery, especially near doors and windows, provide good hiding spots while a burglar is attempting entry. Motion sensor floodlights provide better protection than outdoor lighting on a timer. Don’t leave anything outside that advertises that the home’s residents have money. If you just bought a new big-screen TV or home entertainment system, don’t leave the empty box where someone could see it. Break it down and put it in a big trash bag or stash it out of sight. Keep the blinds closed so that no one can look in and see expensive items in the home. Burglars case a neighborhood waiting for people to leave for work. Most thefts take place during the day. Make friends with neighbors who are home all day and can keep an eye out for unusual activity. Use a generic security alarm sticker or sign. If the burglar knows which brand the alarm is, it can make it easier for a savvy burglar to break in. Any dog that barks helps to deter intruders. A small yappy terrier could be as much of a deterrent as a larger dog. Most burglars are in and out in 10 minutes. A very determined thief will be able to get into most buildings. Most, however, won’t bother trying very long to enter but will go to an easier target.
The primary difference between a professional home security system, such as ADT, and a DIY home security system is 24/7 monitoring and professional installation. However, there are a couple DIY packaged home security systems that offer 24/7 professional monitoring for a monthly fee. Anyone who wants to avoid a monthly fee and install the components themselves needs to be fairly handy with tools and be able to identify the most effective locations for the system components. Separate key pads and control panels have an advantage in that the control panel is hidden from sight. Some burglars consider the all-in-one key pad/control panels to be the easiest to defeat as they can be quickly destroyed. Learn everything about operating your system – improperly set up systems make it easier for thieves. This happens more frequently with improperly set up DIY systems. If a thief steals your keys and the wireless key fob, getting into your home has just become easier. Install glass break detectors and a very loud alarm. The primary reason for installing a home security system, either professional or DIY, is to let anyone who’s home be immediately warned if someone is trying to get in. While protecting your belongings is important, protecting a sleeping family member from being attacked is much more critical. In Evanston, it’s entirely possible than any intruder could be an armed gang member. Keeping them out is far safer than trying to defend yourself or the family once they’re in.