New CTA cameras have led to greater number of graffiti arrests

Julian Gerez, Assistant City Editor

The addition of new cameras in the Chicago Transit Authority’s security network has led to a greater number of arrests in connection with criminal defacement cases.

Along with the cameras, the CTA is filing lawsuits against those charged in an effort to deter graffiti on trains and buses, as well as to recover the cost of damages caused by the defacements. 

Police have made 60 arrests in 2014 for graffiti-related crimes on CTA property, equivalent to the number of vandalism arrests made in all of 2013. 

“We hope these lawsuits will serve as a deterrent to all those who might be tempted to vandalize a train car, station or other CTA property,” CTA president Forrest Claypool said in a news release.  “Our cameras will capture the crime, and police will use those images to find and arrest you.”

CTA spokeswoman Catherine Hosinski said many of the arrests would not have been possible without the cameras, which were installed starting in May 2011.

“Until recently, these were crimes that were difficult to take to court,” Hosinski said. “Now we have cameras that can serve as witnesses to these crimes and help us identify the people committing them.”

Evanston Police Cmdr. Jay Parrott said CTA personnel are “very cooperative” with the police department when it comes to prosecuting any type of crime, including criminal defacement cases.

“It’s hard to get witnesses to identify people, so the next best thing is to have video footage that identifies the individual committing the crime,” Parrott said.

He said the graffiti on CTA property is primarily tagging, which refers to a stylized signature. However, he said graffiti can also be gang-related.

Parrott said there has recently been tagging on the CTA line in Evanston similar to tagging incidents from the north side of Chicago.

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