SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WRSP) — Police are seeing a drastic drop in crime rates across Central Illinois. They are crediting a big part of that to the start of the new school year.
In Springfield, police are still searching for juveniles they believe are involved in numerous crimes from this summer and as school starts up, police are hoping things will change.
Recently, the pickleball court at Iles Park was ridden with graphic graffiti. Joanne Woodworth, who is a pickleball regular, said the images and writing on the tarp and cement was obscene.
“It was frustrating,” Woodworth said. “I was disappointed. It's discouraging that kids or whoever did it, don't have a better outlet."
Police said juveniles could be behind the graffiti, along with dozens of other cases of break-ins, criminal damage, vandalism, noise complaints, curfew violations, and petty misdemeanors from this summer.
“Well, I was sad,” grandmother Barb Ziogas said. “I hate to see vandalism. I hate to see graffiti that's around town too."
Now school is changing crime rates. Some parents said even with school starting, and the rate dropping, there are still ways kids can stay out of trouble.
"Make sure they're supervised,” Ziogas said.
Police said the colder months also help curb the violence.
“School is not the end all be all,” Springfield Lieutenant Brian Oaks said. “It's not a crime stopper, but it definitely helps. Kids are busier and more tired and they're not up as late."
Lieutenant Oaks said it's up to parents to help keep the numbers down.
"Keep them active,” Ziogas said. “And involved in activities and school and after-school programs are important."
Ziogas was at Iles Park with her grandchildren, Saniyah and Shamarr Ewing.
“I'm excited to making new friends,” Shamarr said.
“I'm excited to meet my new teacher,” Saniyah said.
There, they took notice of the graffiti still on the tarp covered up with more paint. District 186 parents advise to keep the kids busy, keep track of them and their after-school activities and keep them making the right choices.
"I want to be a good kid,” Saniyah said.
Last year juvenile crimes dropped about ten percent at the start of the school year. That rate is expected to continue to go down as it gets colder. Police stress guardians should talk to the kids on a regular basis to see if there are any problems during the school year. If so, be sure to reach out to your school or police immediately.