Deeper look at first quarter crime stats on the CTA: assaults up, most other crimes down

Last week I broke the story that thefts on the CTA in Chicago had surged by more than 30% in the first three months of the year. Today I'm revisiting that post to look at a few other crime stats from the first quarter.

And remember, these stats are only instructive, not indicative, of what 2010 may hold overall for crimes on the CTA.

Nine more assaults this year - up 13%. There were 70 assaults in Q1 2009 vs. 2010 with 79. The biggest growth was in assaults at bus stops -- none in 2009, and 10 in 2010. People were waiting longer at bus stops due to service cuts in February and March, so it makes me wonder if that was a factor.

Big jump in pick-pocket -- 26%. And the bulk of that huge surge was in pocket-picking on buses, with 44 in 2009 and 76 in 2010. People: Pay attention! Check out CTA's tips on avoiding pick-pockets.

Avoiding pick-pockets.JPG

Criminal damage to property takes big drop. Most other crime on the CTA was flat or dipped a bit. But there was a huge 43% dip in criminal damage to property. Damage to trains (57% down) and buses (47% down) accounted for the biggest portion of the crime drop. Interestingly, criminal damage at bus stops doubled, from 3 in 2009 to 6 this first quarter. That's a very small amount, but it bears watching over the year to see if people having to wait longer brings out more mischievousness.

Note: The post from last week has my spreadsheet detailing Chicago CTA crimes in all categories.



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  • I don't know if the numbers are something that should assure passengers.

    It is obviously the customers who are the victims of assaults and pickpocketing. It doesn't seem like the cameras on the buses are deterring that, although the pictures of the guy in the multicolor sweater shooting up the bus (I had the debate with Wiz over which one, which I lost) apparently has cut down homicides on the bus.

    As far as property damage, maybe the CTA got its taggers under control, but except to the budgeted threat to the taxpayers' pocketbooks, does not affect passengers like the growing categories do.

    BTW: Shouldn't criminal damage to bus stops be categorized as a crime against the French advertising company that owns them, instead of the CTA?

  • Maybe I'm just unlucky, but it seems like every time I get on a train car it is tagged in numerous spots. If anything, I feel like based on my (limited) observations, train tagging has gone up (at least on the lines I ride).

  • Are people actually waiting longer? I always check the Bus Tracker before heading to a stop so I don't have to stand there any longer than needed.

  • You're right of course that not everyone does it. I can't be the only person who does, though.

  • In reply to Cheryl:

    I can only check Bustracker from home, I don't have a web enabled phone.
    Too expensive!

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    CTA does have the text message method of getting the next bus at a particular stop.

  • In reply to jack:

    My hunch is people who have the means/infrastucture/devices to get bus info are using to get it. But you're kinda stuck when doing transfers, as glg alludes to.

  • In reply to jack:

    Giving this a night's thought, I am starting to believe that the "more infrequent bus" causal argument is a red herring. I doubt that the people waiting for the bus have become so frustrated that they are trashing Frenchie's bus stop structures. More than likely, it is off hour vandals.

  • In reply to jack:

    Jack, you may be right about that people waiting longer doesn't mean they will vent their frustrations via criminal damage to property. In fact it may deter people since more folks are watching. But you never know...

    However, I DO think having more people waiting gives thieves more targets for pick-pockets or "run-by" purse snatching and assaults.

  • In reply to jack:

    ... and, I stand by my bottom line that these stats bear watching. We can't really draw conclusions this early.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Neither do I. I use the text messaging method.

    My next phone will have a qwerty keyboard.

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