The CTA has completed installation of more than 800 cameras in rail cars, a security expansion that coincides with a 26 percent decrease in serious crimes in the first three months of 2014 across the transit system, compared with the same period a year ago.
Between January and March 2014, the CTA says the number of crimes declined across these categories:
- Thefts, which had been on the rise in recent years as more customers own personal electronic devices such as smartphones and tablets, have declined 23 percent overall.
- Thefts have fallen 25 percent on buses, 16 percent on trains and 19 percent on rail platforms.
- Robbery decreased by 38 percent on average for all CTA transit.
- Aggravated battery decreased by 44 percent on average for all CTA transit.
- Crimes on CTA rail platforms decreased 31 percent and fell 22 percent on CTA trains from January through March.
- Crimes on buses declined 22 percent.
The decline in crimes coincides with the significant expansion of security cameras on the CTA.
Since late 2011, the CTA has doubled its rail station camera network to more than 3,600 cameras and last year began a $13.9 million program to install more than 3,300 360-degree cameras on 834 rail cars.
The state-of-the-art cameras can record and store high-resolution images from all angles, increasing the ability to identify criminal suspects. Similar cameras are installed on the CTA’s newest generation of rail cars currently being added to CTA’s rail fleet, and all CTA buses have multiple security cameras as well, with the full complement of cameras totaling more than 23,000.
Some skeptics have noted that the bitter cold and snowy weather in the first three months of the year no doubt contributed to the crime drop. So it will be interesting to see if this pattern continues throughout the year.
The CTA notes that "crime is extremely low on the CTA system. Out of more than 120 million rides in January through March, there have been just 483 crimes on the system—or 4 crimes per every million rides."
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