A huge surge in thefts on the CTA in the first quarter of the year is driving an overall increase -- almost 6% -- in CTA crimes reported to Chicago police this year compared to last year, according to a CTA Tattler analysis.
There was a 37% jump in thefts this year, from 297 in the first three months of 2009 to 406 in 2010. Meanwhile, thefts in the city as a whole actually dropped 10% in the same period. Crime data was pulled from EveryBlock Chicago.
This look at crime in the first quarter is a follow-up to CTA Tattler's comparison of CTA Chicago crime in 2009 versus 2008. In 2009, overall CTA crime was down 2.3%, but theft increased almost 12%. So this huge jump in theft in the first quarter only continues -- and even expands -- the troubling trend.
Theft is the most prevalent crime on the CTA, representing almost 32% of all crime in 2009. If you pull thefts from total crimes, there's actually a 2% drop in crimes in the first quarter.
That's why it's important for the cops and the CTA to focus on theft prevention and patrol strategies.
So that begs the question: What are the CTA and Chicago police doing
about it? I asked the CTA that question, and here's the reply:
"One of CTA's top priorities is to provide a safe and secure environment for its employees and customers. We work closely with the Chicago Police Department and use tools such as a more visible police presence, public awareness campaigns and a strategic deployment of resources to help reduce incidents of criminal activity on CTA property.
"CTA has seen an increase in thefts primarily in electronic devices such as iPods and iPhones. [Note: see yesterday's post.] These items are the newest and hottest items to possess. From January through March 2010, CPD has recorded 388 thefts on CTA property--a 32% increase over the same time period last year.
"While the two agencies focus efforts on ways to deploy resources to help apprehend and prosecute the offenders, customers can assist the two agencies by being vigilant and reporting criminal or suspicious activity to CTA or CPD. These reports allow the agencies to identify trends and deploy resources accordingly. In addition, CTA is increasing its surveillance camera network which can serve as a deterrent as well as provide information for use in investigations. Later this month we will reach the milestone of having one or more cameras at each rail station.
"...CPD recently arrested two individuals for robbery on the Red Line and earlier in the year, apprehended multiple offenders suspected of thefts on the Green Line. We will continue our efforts to make CTA a safe, convenient and friendly travel option for customers."
I agree we riders need to be more watchful and be sure to report crimes so police can detect patterns and make personnel decisions. But I think more could be done by both the CTA and police on public awareness.
And that's great news on the installation of cameras at every station. Let's use them.
A final note: Everyblock theft stats differ slightly from CPD stats, even though EveryBlock obtains CPD data. The bottom line remains a huge increase in thefts.
So be careful out there.
(Photo from iphonestalk.com)