One of the reported arsons in 2012 was at Maxwell Park, home to Champion Fields, where someone started a fire in a garbage can which spread to the post of a pavilion. (Photo courtesy of the town of Normal)
By Stephanie Pawlowski
NORMAL - The number of arson arrests in Normal was up 20 percent last year compared to 2011.
Chief Rich Bleichner said there was no serial arsonist, it just happens to be one of those years where the crime stats spiked.
"We didn't have any that were linked one to the other, but we certainly did have some cases where there were fires that were set that caused damage," Bleichner said. "Under the law in Illinois, if it is intentionally set and it causes damage over $300, then its considered arson."
There were nine reported arsons in the town, including a juvenile who set a mattress or box spring on fire at 701 Orlando, a juvenile who set a grass fire at the CornCrib, and a juvenile who lit mulch on fire near playground equipment at Oakdale School.
Police also said there was an attempted arson at 1201 Wall where grass along the perimeter of a building was set on fire, an arson at Hershey and Raab Road where a garage was set on fire, an attempted arson at 106 E. Cherry where a pile of newspapers was set on fire on a front porch, an arson at 107 W. Locust where a wood fence surrounding a dumpster was set ablaze after someone started a dumpster fire and an arson in Maxwell Park where someone started a fire in a garbage can which spread to the post of a pavilion.
Normal Police also said Jaclyn Burge was arrested on a charge of misdemeanor reckless conduct for attempted arson. She pleaded guilty and was sentenced to court supervision for lighting an object on fire and leaving it on a shelf in a building at 2012 W. College.
Robberies up 17 percent
There were 36 robberies in Normal in 2012, compared to 23 in 2011 and 30 in the five year average. Bleichner said it's a crime that goes up and down from year to year.
"We look at that very closely and when we see spikes or increases in that, we will dedicate additional resources to specific locations in town," Bleichner said.
According to numbers from the 2012 annual report, Normal also had 58 sex crimes, which is the same as 2011; 53 assaults which is up two percent; 317 batteries which is also up two percent; and 289 burglaries which is down six percent.
Domestic batteries are down three percent, vehicle theft is down seven percent and weapons are down five.