The Woodstock Institute, a Chicago-based advocacy group, writes in the report that local governments are now gathering a wide range of data about empty buildings through vacant-property registries. But the registries often don't capture key data points. (Read the report below.) 
Of the 47 local area vacant-property registry laws Woodstock examined, just 13 municipalities require information about whether buildings are enclosed and secured. 
Only six of the vacant-property registries ask for details about when the home was first left vacant, the report says, while 18 require updates about pending litigation against the property. 
Pushing for more information will help government agencies devise new plans for the vacant properties that have proliferated since the housing crash, said Katie Buitrago, senior policy and communications associate at Woodstock. 
“You need to know what the scope of the problem is,” she said. 
The report says 69,174 properties in the six-county area had been vacant for at least two years by the end of 2012. By comparison, just 23,990 had been vacant for at least two years in 2008.