Whether you’ve just been in a car accident, witnessed a crime occurring or discovered someone has stolen your credit card information, you need to file a police report. A police report is the official documentation of the incident and may be used to spur further action by police, to track criminal trends in a community or as evidence for insurance claims or in court filings. In a smaller town, the method of filing a report with the police is likely the same no matter what infraction occurs, but in a big city like Chicago, there are many avenues for filing a police report. In Chicago, you can initiate a police report with an officer at the scene, by going in person to a police station, over the phone or online. The method you choose will depend on the incident you are reporting and your personal preference.
File a Police Report at the Scene
If you are the victim of or witness to a serious crime or a car accident where a police officer is called to the scene, you might file a police report at the time of the incident. If you later need to obtain a copy of the report for any reason, you can request the report either in person at Central Police Headquarters at 3510 S. Michigan Ave., or by mail.
Mail report requests to the Chicago Police Department, Records Inquiry and Customer Service Section, Unit 163, Chicago, IL 60653. You must include the name and address of the victim or person who made the report, the type and location of the incident, the report number, a self-addressed stamped envelope and a check or money order with the applicable fee. The fee for case reports is .50 cents for each copy and $5.00 for Traffic Crash reports. Vehicle Accident Reports can also be obtained from the Chicago Police website for $6.00.
Report Crimes Using the Non-Emergency Police Number
You can initiate a police report by calling 3-1-1 if the incident you are reporting does not involve a crime in progress, pose an immediate and major threat to someone’s life, body or property, and does not require immediate police presence. The City of Chicago considers as non-emergencies crimes in which the offender is no longer at the scene, like pickpocketing, damage to property or a stolen car, and asks that witnesses or victims use 3-1-1 instead of 9-1-1 to report those crimes. The non-emergency police number is staffed by members of the Chicago Police Department and is available 24/7. You can either file a police report over the phone or make an appointment to file a police report at a later time.
Read More: How to Get a Police Report
File a Non-Emergency Report Online
For non-emergencies with no known suspect, the Chicago Police Department has an online portal for filing a police report. To make a report online, the incident must have occurred within the Chicago city limits, you must be at least 18 years old and you must have a valid email address. Crimes that can be reported through Chicago Police Department’s Online Reporting System include scams, credit or debit card fraud, criminal damage to property or vehicle, graffiti on your home, criminal trespass to a vehicle, financial identity theft, lost passport, lost property, harassment, retail theft, simple assault and theft.
File Traffic Accident or Missing Persons Reports at a District Police Station
You can always file a police report for any crime by visiting your district police station. In fact, traffic accident reports and missing persons reports can be filed only in person at a district police station. You can find the nearest station at the City of Chicago website, cityofchicago.org.
- Keep in mind that if involved in a non-serious traffic accident, police may sometimes suggest reporting the incident later in person.
Sally Brooks is a writer living in New York City with her chunky toddler and patient husband. She graduated magna cum laude from the University Cincinnati College of Law and her work has been featured in Jurist and the Temple Political and Civil Rights Law Review.