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Will adding more cameras to CTA trains reduce thefts?

All of the new CTA rail cars are equiped surveillance cameras, but will all they really reduce thefts? Credits:   vxla via creative commons
All of the new CTA rail cars are equiped surveillance cameras, but will all they really reduce thefts?
Credits: vxla via creative commons

NBC Chicago reported Monday that more cameras are planned for the Chicago Transit Authority in an effort to fight the increased number of thefts on its buses and trains, but will the planned increase in the number of surveillance cameras really be able to stem the increase in thefts on the CTA?

The CTA just completed the installation of 1,700 cameras, bringing the total system wide to over 3,000 cameras. All 144 rail stations are now equipped with cameras.

According to CTA President Forest Claypool crimes photographed on the CTA’s new 5000 series rail cars have helped police arrest at least 14 suspects in connection with 15 cases over a recent eight-month period.

Don’t lower your guard and start popping the champagne corks just yet. Crime on the CTA has increased.

The Chicago Tribune reported in late October that thefts on the CTA increased 16 percent in the first nine months of 2012 compared with the same period in 2011, according to Chicago police data. Thieves especially target riders carrying smartphones and tablets.

Eventually the CTA plans on working with the Chicago Police Department, to operate a real-time surveillance feed aboard trains so that law enforcement personnel can monitor suspicious activity or get a jump on pursuing criminals after they strike, officials said.

Unfortunately the initiative to operate real-time surveillance has yet to be funded, so will you still need to be on your guard when riding on buses or trains. 

Tips to help you avoid becoming the next CTA robbery victim.

1. Avoid traveling during the predawn hours.  Chicago Tribune reporters analysis of crime data showed that people using Chicago’s transit system during that time increased their chances of becoming victims.

2. Don’t the use of your i-Pod, tablet or smartphone while on the CTA.  Thieves won’t target you if your valuables aren’t readily available for them to take.

3. If you must use your favorite electronic toy, get into the habit of looking up when the train or bus approaches the next stop.  Hang onto your valuables with both hands and look at the passengers nearby as you come to the stop. If a potential robber sees you looking at them they are less likely to target you.

4. Put your wallet or cash in an inside or front pocket and your packages, briefcase, or backpack in front of you.  Before stealing electronic gear became popular, grabbing items placed on seats or the floor next to passengers and pick pocketing unsuspecting travelers was how most thieves operated.

5. Look at the faces of the people standing near you. Thieves don’t want to be identified so they make a point of trying to blend in and not be noticed. When you see this type of behavior you need to start paying very close attention to where they are and what they are doing.

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Ed Kress
For over 40 years Ed Kress has been an instructor and student at the Degerberg Academy of Martial Arts, named "Best Overall Martial Arts School” worldwide by Black Belt Magazine. Master Fred Degerberg awarded Ed his 7th degree Black Belt in 2015. Growing up on Chicago’s Southside, Ed learned early in life to pay attention to his surroundings in order to avoid potentially dangerous people and situations. With the help of local law enforcement officers and directors of campus security, Ed developed a program focused on personal safety on the streets, and as it relates to the high school and college experience. Ed has trained thousands of adult men and women as well as high school and college students to improve their personal and situational awareness and, when necessary, how to physically defend themselves using their brains and a wide variety of martial arts techniques.

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