New Website Tracks BART Crimes as Incidents Spike

A new platform tracks BART passengers' misconduct online, amid backlash that the agency is hiding its crime problem.

(Mike Koozmin/S.F. Examiner)

A new analysis finds that violent crime is up 41 percent across the BART system this year. But in the wake the infamous teen mob attack in April and a rash of other high-profile crimes throughout Bay Area stations, BART stopped emailing daily crime logs and instead started uploading crime data to a maddeningly scant and difficult-to-use online map format called CrimeMapping.com.

Frustration with BART’s lack of transparency on crime led one rider to take matters into his own hands. A local web developer named Ben Friedland has created a website called BARTCrimes.com that recreates the old BART daily crime log email system, but on a website anyone can access.

Surprisingly, BART has resumed sending the daily crime emails — but the list is now private.

“This started when BART decided to stop publishing daily crime updates publicly,” Friedland tells SF Weekly. “They switched everything over to a private email list which requires approval to subscribe to. When I heard they were doing this, I applied for the subscription with the intent to publish these emails to a public place.”

Friedland literally created the site while riding BART. “[I] used my free time during my daily BART commute to create the site,” he says. “I created BARTCrimes.com, which is completely automated, downloading the emails they send, scraping them, parsing them, then publishing them to the site. In addition, I plan to geotag and aggregate the crime type for each incident so people can easily see, for instance, if their local station is a hot spot for bike crime or car break ins.”

“I think this type of public knowledge is important,” Friedland says. “It helps people decide whether they want to lock up their bike at their station, or would rather use the bike lockers. More importantly, public awareness of the crime which is spinning out of control will likely increase the fire required to get something done about it.”

If BARTCrimes.com is not visually engaging or interactive enough for you, the Bay Area News Group just published a series of Google Maps showing which BART stations have the most crime. The maps classify crimes into the categories of Property Crime/Theft, Assault/Battery, and Robbery.

The Oakland Coliseum and Lake Merritt stations were found to have the largest numbers of assaults and batteries, while the Daly City station has the most property crime and theft. Hey, let’s be careful out there.

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