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2 Investigators: CTA Keeps Crime Bulletins Under Wraps

(CBS) – Internal CTA crime records provide a revealing look at where and when crimes tend to happen along the transportation network, but the information isn't usually shared with the public.

2 Investigator Dave Savini reports.

Video taken by a camera on a CTA bus shows a person being grabbed and dragged off the vehicle. Such surveillance video is used to make CTA security bulletins that are used to track criminals.

College student Mark Poore, whose cell phone was stolen out of his hands while riding a bus, says these bulletins should be made public.

The criminal in his case was never caught, even though he believes the crime was caught on video.  He says he was never asked by CTA or police officials to look at surveillance footage.

Other similar crimes, and more violent ones, have been caught on tape and made into bulletins. The crimes include pickpocketing, knife fights, shootings and other brutal attacks.

The 2 Investigators reviewed hundreds of CTA security bulletins from the last 2 ½ years. Among the findings: January was the month crime spiked. Robbery was the big offense with cell phones being the prime target. The afternoon rush – 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. – was when the most crimes occurred.

The Red Line had the most crimes, with the Addison stop by Wrigley Field topping the list. Anyone dozing off there became a prime target for pickpockets and "slasher" crews who cut victims' pockets to get their possessions.

Criminals who pick wallets are frequently caught on camera immediately using stolen credit cards to buy loads of CTA fare cards at vending machines.

Records show most offenders are 25 or younger, and 18- and 19-year-olds top the list. Nearly 80 offenders identified were 16 or younger.

Bulletins show older criminals are doing more of the "bump and stalls" -- a man in front stalls to block the victim, who is then robbed by the person behind him.

Thousands of newly installed cameras catching these images are priceless, says Chicago Police Lt. Thomas Clark.

"The number of people that we've actually caught off these pictures is pretty surprising," he says.

These bulletins also identify repeat offenders, including Alfred Scott, who had 36 CTA theft arrests, and Clarence Ervin, with 27 CTA arrests, including battery and indecent exposure.

Victims say the bulletins should be shared with the public. Clark doesn't disagree.

"I would love to," he says. "I don't think the people in charge would think it was a good idea, mostly for litigation."

From these same bulletins, CBS 2 found the most bus crimes on the 55 Garfield route.

If you become a CTA crime victim, get the bus or train car number and try to get the driver or conductor's name. This will help the CTA and police search for video of the crime and will hopefully lead to an arrest.

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