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Revamped CPD website allows public to report more types of crime online

Crime victims can go online to report more types of incidents to the Chicago Police Department on a revamped website launched Monday.

Since 2009, citizens have been able to use the department’s website to report two types of incidents: lost property and theft under $500.

The goal was to free officers from having to take the reports, leaving them on the street to respond to emergencies and stop crime, according to the department.

Now, people can report eight more types of crime, including theft over $500, retail theft, financial identity theft under $300, financial theft over $300, graffiti, criminal damage to property, criminal damage to vehicle and simple assault.

So far this year, citizens have reported about 1,000 criminal incidents online, according to the department. That represents only about 1 percent of the total reports of lost property and theft under $500.

“We definitely want that to increase,” said Jonathan Lewin, commander of public safety information technology.

Lewin said the new website offers easy access to TXT2TIP, which the department originally launched in 2009 to let the public use cellphones submit crime tips via text messages. “It’s been around a long time, but we are really promoting it now,” he said.

Robert Tracy, chief of crime control strategy, said: “We’re manning this 24 hours. If we hear about a crime in progress, we can immediately get this information out to the field.”

The department will post security-camera images of suspects on the new website, too. The public can give the department anonymous tips about those YouTube images, department spokesman Martin Maloney said.

A video of suspects posted on the department’s Facebook site helped lead to the arrest of two men in sexual assaults in the West Loop on Halloween.

The website will allow people to share such videos and other information with their contacts on Facebook, Twitter and lots of other social media outlets, Maloney said.

In the future, the department will use the website to host moderated “virtual beat meetings” in which up to 500 people can participate and ask questions of police officials, Maloney said.

Tracy said he hopes the changes to the website will help cut down on officer response times and break through the public’s “code of silence” on crime.