The holiday season is a feel-good time for many people.

And several measures have been put into place in Oak Brook over the past two years in an effort to ensure the safety and security of shoppers, visitors and employees of local businesses. These measures are important year-round, but especially so during the holiday shopping season.

First, as explained by Mark King, Oak Brook Deputy Police Chief, there is a large placement of security cameras in place at every intersection leading into Oak Brook. An integral part of the camera system is data on suspicious vehicles that may be coming into the area. These are called LPRs, or license plate readers, that identify vehicles and license plates for vehicles that have been stolen.

In addition, the police department is constantly patrolling the streets of Oak Brook and has worked with many Oak Brook homeowner associations to install LPR and security cameras at the gates.

Secondly, Oakbrook Center itself has a large robust camera system and 24/7 security team that patrols inside and outside the mall. Recently, Oakbrook Center partnered with the Oak Brook Police Department to install LPR cameras at every entrance to the property.

In addition, of course, many retailers have installed security camera systems and alarms to alert the police whenever needed, in Oakbrook Center and all other retail outlets.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, all the security systems just mentioned have now been seamlessly combined into a master surveillance system utilized by the Oak Brook Police Department called Fusus, which is an ancient Greek term for a spindle, which is used to weave together disparate threads to form a stronger thread.

Fusus combines data and cameras in use from all surveillance sources in the area into one master camera and data system which enables police and security to quickly identify suspicious activity and vehicles. This digital coordination alerts police at Oak Brook Police Headquarters and is in use in every police vehicle on patrol when potential problems are identified.

How effective has the stepped-up surveillance been?

In a July 20 op-ed published in the Chicago Tribune, Oak Brook Village President Larry Herman made several observations, including these specific points:

“Over the last year or so, Oak Brook has taken a decidedly more proactive approach to criminal apprehension and enforcement. In partnership with Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul and his Organized Retail Crime Task Force, we have invested heavily in resources such as undercover police units, camera technology, drones, a K-9 unit, and GPS tracking systems.

“Oak Brook supports and loves its police, and, in turn, they enjoy doing their job. Throughout this process, our police have deepened their working relationships with retail store loss prevention personnel. Oak Brook has also partnered with neighboring police agencies, sharing resources as a force multiplier.”

“If you shoplift in Oak Brook, you will get caught and likely jailed. Working with DuPage County State’s Attorney Bob Berlin, we will prosecute both misdemeanor and felony levels of shoplifting and other crimes.”

“Over the last year, many major retailers are reporting that their “shrinkage”, or shoplifting, rates have dropped markedly in their Oak Brook stores while the theft rate in stores outside Oak Brook remains high. Meanwhile, sales at the Oakbrook Center shopping mall and other local stores and restaurants are booming. While North Michigan Avenue suffers, there is a waiting list of stores seeking to lease in our mall.”

Editor’s Note: Mr. Berlin was recently honored by the Greater Oak Brook Chamber of Commerce as its Denny Hiffman Inspiring Leader Award winner for 2023.