Updated 02/04/11 – 2:52 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — If there was one bright spot to having 20 inches of snow dumped on the city in less than 24 hours earlier this week, it apparently helped keep the city’s crooks off the streets for a while.
Chicago Police Supt. Jody Weis said Friday morning that the city had been nearly crime-free for two days after the snowstorm blew through Tuesday and Wednesday.
“That is the one advantage we have with weather like this. Crime has been relatively low. We’ve gone like, I think, 48 hours without having a shooting,” Weis said at a news conference at the city’s 911 center on Friday.
Of course, that kind of hot streak couldn’t last forever. Weis said it ended early Friday morning.
“Unfortunately last night an individual was shot as three individuals tried to steal his snow blower,” Weis said. “But otherwise, we’ve had almost no crime within the city for the past 48 hours.”
The shooting that broke the two-day violent-free streak happened at 1:40 a.m. Friday in the Englewood neighborhood.
Andre Barker, 47, was walking along the 5600 block of South Shields when two men approached him and asked if he wanted to sell his Toro snowblower, police said.
When Barker said no, one of the men produced a gun and shot him in the left thigh. The two men robbed him of $27, took his snowblower, loaded it into a white van and fled the scene.
Barker was taken to John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County. His wound was not life-threatening, police said.
Meantime, in addition to helping keep crime down, another benefit from the heavy snow has been that the city hasn’t been enforcing payment of parking meters.
The city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications said that, due to heavy snowfall, parking meter enforcement has been temporarily suspended.
“Once conditions are appropriate, the city will resume parking ticket enforcement. However, we will inform the public at least 24 hours before that happens,” OEMC representatives said in a news release. “We understand the snow is making it difficult for motorists to see curb markings and signs displaying parking restrictions. As a result, enforcement will remain suspended until conditions improve.”
But city officials said motorists should continue to obey all of the city’s parking rules, including paying parking meters when possible.
“Parking rules and requirements ensure the safety of residents and keep traffic flow moving appropriately,” the statement said. “And most importantly, illegally parked vehicles can impede the ability of emergency and snow removal vehicles from navigating City streets and providing critical services.”
Also, although many Chicagoans have already been calling “dibs” on parking spots they’ve dug out by putting out empty crates, old furniture or other items on the street when they move their car, Weis said there haven’t been any reports of fights over parking spots.
“We haven’t seen anything like that at all. I think people are kind of working together,” Weis said. “You see a lot of instances where neighbors are coming together and they’re working together to dig out their cars and their streets and that’s really a testament, I think, to the good residents we have in this city.”
It has been a long-standing tradition in Chicago that many motorists who have to park on the streets call “dibs” on parking spaces after a snowstorm by putting down old furniture, empty crates, buckets or other items after digging out a space.
Sometimes, if someone swoops in and “steals” a parking spot that someone else has “called dibs” on, fights can break out. But Weis said the police department hasn’t seen that so far since the blizzard.
“I don’t have any information regarding fights or brawls that might have broken out because someone took someone’s spot,” Weis said.
As usual, the city is not stopping anyone from calling “dibs” on parking spaces for now.
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“At this moment, that’s a thing that they’re doing and they’re trying to save what they dug out and we’re not going to take a position on that,” Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Tom Byrne said.
Normally, the city waits a few days after a major snowstorm before it calls a stop to the tradition of calling “dibs” by removing motorists’ junk from the parking spots they dug out.