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SkyTrain commuter trains pass each other in Vancouver.DARRYL DYCK/The Globe and Mail

Crimes against people on Metro Vancouver's transit system dropped 17 per cent in the first half of 2012, according to Transit Police.

These crimes include aggravated assaults, sexual assaults and thefts. Property crimes, such as vandalism, were down 4 per cent compared to the same period last year.

Transit Police Chief Neil Dubord attributed the drop to three tactics: focusing on chronic offenders; problem-solving (prevention, intervention and suppression); and identifying problem "hot spots" throughout the system. These high-traffic stations include Surrey Central, Metrotown in Burnaby and Waterfront and Joyce-Collingwood in Vancouver.

Transit Police conducted 1.4 million passenger fare inspections in the first nine months of the year, which resulted in more arrests for warrants and breaches, Chief Dubord said.

"Last year we had 760 total and this year we have 530 just during the first six months," he said. This is in addition to 500 charge recommendations to Crown Counsel resulting from Transit Police investigations.

When fare gates are operational next year, Transit Police will move away from stations and focus more on problem routes and protecting front-line workers such SkyTrain attendants and bus drivers, Chief Dubord said.

"No one deserves to go to their work place and think that they're going to get assaulted," he said. "We want to concentrate, going forward, on being able to make sure that our front-line workers come to a safe place to work."