Peoria Police announced new tools available to track crime in local neighborhoods, Friday night.
Chief Lorren Marion said they want to roll out a three step process when neighborhood crimes happen:
- Police will e-mail the neighborhood association affected by the crime. Plus, a post will be made on the Nextdoor app.
- Police will send out a press release to the news media.
- In some cases, police will issue a “CodeRED,” when they need the public’s assistance.
- The Chief gave examples of a missing person, evacuations, suspect searches, etc. as times they might issue a CodeRED alert.
These new practices come on the heels of a police-community meeting held on February, 20. The meeting hosted by councilman Chuck Grayeb gave residents a chance to learn more about a string of violent robberies in central Peoria. Friday, police said they had not received any similar violent robbery reports since that community meeting took place. Chief Marion credits the public for that.
“We’ve been getting a lot of support from the community and that is key,” he said.
Lt. Boland said there are four incidents like that they’re most concerned about.
“The nature is the problem, because of the violence associated with it,” said Boland.
Boland said those violent incidents happened in the center bluff neighborhood during February. He believes the robber is a “lone wolf,” targeting the elderly and frail. In each case, a man approached the victims in their driveway, violently attacking them, then entering their home or garage to steal things. Boland said the victims recovered from their injuries and they are still looking for the thinly built man behind the those crimes.
Police are also looking for persons of interests in other non-violent, armed robberies. Boland said the City of Peoria has seen approximately 20 robberies in February. He said the average number of robberies per month is about 20-23.
After Friday's press conference, Peoria saw another armed robbery just after 7:30 pm. Police responded to the Verizon Digital Store on West War Memorial Drive where they said two black men came in the store wearing white surgical masks and blue surgical gloves; one of them was armed with a handgun. No one was hurt, but they did take some money and cellphones. Police said the two men got into a getaway car described as an E-class white Mercedes Benz. Inside, they said a black man was driving, with a black woman in the backseat. They said the car drove northbound on Hamilton.
The other February robberies include a variety of scenarios, and police said they believe the crimes are being committed by groups of young people. Police said all these crimes included threats with a handgun:
- 2 Gas station robberies
- 1 Robbery at Domino’s Pizza on Prospect
- 1 Cab driver
- 3 Pizza delivery drivers
- 1 Individual at an ATM on N. Knoxville
- 2 Individuals robbed at meet-ups for online purchases
Police hope their new tools will help crack down on crimes like these. Though police said they arrested four juveniles last month in connection with some robberies, they were released, and are now persons of interest in other cases. Police still can’t prove they have any involvement at all to the new crimes.
“There’s probably several little crews of friends that get together and do this,” said Lt. Boland.
Boland said it’s not gang-related activity, because the groups of young people are evolving too often.
Police gave some advice for people to protect themselves. They said to be aware of your surroundings when going to and from your vehicle, especially at home. Before you get out of the car, keep your doors locked, look behind trees and house corners to make sure you’re not being watched. Police said if you’re approached at your vehicle, lock the doors immediately and drive away if you can. If you’re caught by a robber the best thing to do is comply, but if you must fight for your life police said, “by all means do so.”
To learn more about the new alert resources offered by Peoria Police, you can watch this tutorial video, and others on their Facebook page: