CTA goes after graffiti vandals, parents using video surveillance

After spending millions to upgrade and expand its video surveillance program, the CTA is now using it to nab and prosecute graffiti vandals – and their parents.

Blue line CTA rail car with graffiti. (Chicago Tribune photo by Antonio Perez)

Blue line CTA rail car with graffiti. (Chicago Tribune photo by Antonio Perez)

Police have made 60 arrests already this year for graffiti-related crimes on CTA properties, all aided by images from station and rail car cameras. Those 60 arrests are equivalent to the number made in all of 2013. That’s a serious crackdown.

Using the images from thousands of cameras, the CTA also is filing lawsuits against the parents of minor children and others arrested for graffiti vandalism to recover the cost of damages. The CTA reports:

This week, the CTA filed four lawsuits totaling $13,109 against the parents or legal guardians of eight minors, ages 14-17, all charged with misdemeanor criminal defacement to property. A fifth lawsuit against an adult and serial offender charged with felony criminal damage to government property seeks $14,269 in damages.

Last month, the CTA settled with an adult who plead guilty to misdemeanor criminal defacement of property and will reimburse the CTA for $3,536 in cleaning costs. He will also serve community service hours.

Since May 2011, has installed thousands of security cameras at stations, facilities and vehicles.. The CTA also recently installed multiple cameras onto 830 older CTA rail cars (the 2600-series and 3200-series) that previously did not have any cameras. The CTA’s newest generation of rail cars, the 5000-series, are manufactured with cameras already installed. Nearly 430 5000-series of a total planned 716 new rail cars have already been added to CTA;’s rail fleet.



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  • As noted on plenty of other comment boards, there is such a thing as "judgment proof."

  • No, have the motormen/operators clean it off instead.

  • I don't understand what 'damage' grafitti causes.

  • In reply to Cheryl:

    Cheryl, obviously, graffiti's "worth" is in the eye of the beholder. But whether you like it or not, CTA will need to clean it off, that costs money to repair that "damage."

  • In reply to Cheryl:

    Maybe some "artiste" should spray paint your house, car, or bike with gang symbols and see how you like that.

  • There are definitely days when I believe the ban against cruel and unusual punishment should be lifted for certain crimes. Shooting a tagger should be permissible. Heck, they should give us a reward. At a minimum, we should get to taser the a-holes. After that, lock them in stockades in the public square, and let us tag them with paintball guns.

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    I'm surprised that the third rail has not done the job.

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