Team 2 Investigates: Attack on the MAX

Team 2 Investigates: Attack on the MAX

PORTLAND, Ore. - Sixteen-year-old Joe Crane is afraid to ride Portland's MAX light-rail.

Four years ago he was attacked on a MAX platform near the Lloyd Center.

And recently he was jumped at night by three men, who pulled him off the MAX, kicked him in the head and stole his wallet, cash and cell phone.

"I feel like I'm not ever going to be safe on the MAX again," said Crane, pictured below.

Some riders like Crane say a police presence is sorely lacking on public transit. They say they never see transit police while riding and never see any officers jump in when a crime is committed.

Cline's mother, Sandra Lucas, said transit police even warned her about letting her son ride MAX.

"They specifically told me that I shouldn't have my son on the MAX at that time of night," she said. "It's just too dangerous."

Officials from TriMet, which operates public transit in the Portland area, deny that riding is dangerous. They say the latest statistics prove crime is down on the MAX and TriMet buses.

"We feel that it is safe," said Sgt. Jim Dakin of the transit police. "It's a reflection on our job when things happen, and we work hard to make sure that it's safe."

According to TriMet, there were 886 crimes committed on the system in 2006 - down from 988 in 2005. Also, there is fewer than 1 crime for every 100,000 riders. Read the full statistics here.

Sex offenses are down almost 50 percent as well, from 59 incidents in 2005 to 31 last year. Aggravated assaults similarly dropped, from 64 in 2005 to 36 last year.

Transit officials said they have beefed up transit police patrols at night. Undercover officers are also being used, though officials won't say how many.

Some riders say they don't see the security described by TriMet.

"I've been on here three months, and I've never even been asked for my pass," said rider Trish Beaudoin.

TriMet officials told KATU News they couldn't give out where transit police are deployed. That might give criminals a tactical advantage, they said.

"We just don't like to disclose the total numbers of ... where our physical deployments are," said Tim Garling, TriMet's operations acting executive director.

Joe Crane and his mom say criminals already know they have an advantage on these moving crime scenes and take full advantage of it.

TriMet surveillance cameras capture hundreds of criminals in the act each year - including those involved in Crane's recent attack, pictured above.

"I think TriMet makes a lot of money," his mom said. "I think TriMet could put a little bit more security out there."