It’s nearly midnight, and bleary-eyed Loop students begin wandering out of DePaul’s CDM, Law, and Student Center buildings to the Red Line stops below. But according to a recent Chicago Tribune analysis, these students are at increased risk of theft and robbery: nearly half of the crimes committed on Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) Loop stations between Jan. 2009 and June 2012 were thefts.
Around 535 total thefts, batteries and robberies occurred during this timeframe, with 363 thefts alone. A related Tribune study also revealed that robberies and thefts on CTA buses and bus stations from 2009 to 2011 have increased about 126 and 67 percent, respectively.
Loop-based DePaul senior Christopher Garrity said though he’s never been a victim, he has seen crime on the CTA, and it has always been theft. “I’ve seen a few phones get grabbed right out of people’s hands and the thief will simply get off the train as quick as he/she can,” Garrity said.
However, Garrity said he’s never felt unsafe using the CTA at night, and keeping an eye on your belongings should be enough to prevent theft. “If you look at the statistics, or even at your own experiences, how many times have you ridden the CTA and arrived at your destination with no problems or thefts?” Garrity said. “I would like to think that people will keep statistics in mind, and realize just how low the crime rate on the CTA is for a very large urban area.”
DePaul Public Safety Sgt. Maureen Greene said the CTA Fullerton stop by the Lincoln Park campus was “safe and new,” and instructed new students in the orientation process not to use their cell phones on the train. “We want them to be aware of their surroundings when on the CTA train,” Greene said.
The highest amount of crimes occurred at Red Line stations, according to the Tribune study, while a much lighter amount occurred on the Brown Line. Though it takes a little longer, students worried about theft should take the Brown Line’s scenic route.
DePaul senior Benny Richardson spends two to three long nights in the Loop during the regular school year, and said he finds himself being “extra-cautious” when he’s on the platform.
“If [the Chicago Police Department] could at least designate one or two officers on the most important platforms during the busiest hours, I think it’ll make people feel a lot more comfortable, especially during the late evening hours,” Richardson said.
The crime analysis arrives in the wake of Chicago’s highest murder rate in years, which has increased 38 percent from last year according to the Washington Post. The Daily reported that more Chicago residents have been killed this year than U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
Garrity is not convinced that an increased police presence would make a significant difference. “Chicago’s Finest could have a stronger presence in the CTA stations, but increased police presence won’t stop crime, it will reduce it,” Garrity said. “But could these officers could be better used to help with Chicago’s larger crime problems.”
The highest amount of crimes occurred at Red Line stations, according to the Tribune study, while a much lighter amount occurred on the Brown Line. For DePaul’s night owls, the safest answer may be as simple as the Brown Line’s scenic route.