Chicago homicides increase by 60% in 3 months: Report - Chicago News and Weather | FOX 32 News

Chicago homicides increase by 60% in 3 months: Report

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

A troubling report came out Thursday, confirming that murder rates have sky-rocketed in Chicago this year.

Chicago homicides spiked by 60 percent in the first three months of 2012 despite increased police resources in some of the city's most dangerous neighborhoods.

A total of 120 homicides were recorded from January 1 to April 1 of 2012.

That total is up from 75 in the same time frame in the past two years, 2011 and 2010.

Chicago's also had nearly 500 non-fatal shootings this year, 37 percent more than last year.

Experts said the murder rate could drop later this year.

But the last time it was this high, this early in the year, Chicago ended up with more than 500 murders.

Chicago police officials and Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the city has stepped up efforts to combat gang crime, including adding officers and other resources to trouble spots. Police blame much of the violence on the city's more than 70 active gangs and their tens of thousands of members. The mayor has urged residents to take a stand against gangs in their communities.

Criminologists say unseasonably warm weather this past winter might have contributed because more people are outside interacting.

"In better weather, people are outside more, interacting more with neighbors, acquaintances, even strangers, and there's greater opportunity for conflict than when it's cold and windy," James Alan Fox told the Chicago Tribune.

Fox, a professor of criminology, law and public policy at Northeastern University in Boston, cautioned that it's too early to draw hard conclusions from the few months of data, warning that could be misleading.

Chicago has been at historic lows for homicides in recent years.

All six other crime categories tracked in the police statistics were down, including a 15 percent decline in sexual assaults and a 9 percent drop in robberies. Car thefts declined 16 percent to 4,081.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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