Police brass say fare evaders are doing more than just short-changing the MTA; they’re also responsible for the uptick in reported subway crime.
NYPD statistics release last week, which amNewYork Metro previously reported, showed that more than 70% of all transit crime stems from robberies and grand larcenies. Now, police officials note, those crimes are being largely perpetrated by individuals who hop the turnstiles and then target straphangers.
“The same individual who has a propensity to commit crime, would think nothing about avoiding the fare and jumping the turnstile,” Transit Bureau Deputy Chief Timothy Skretch told amNewYork Metro.
But while there were more reports of transit crime, there were also more arrests. Police officials say that’s largely due to having more officers stationed near and around turnstiles to catch fare beaters, as well as others who would cause mischief and mayhem in the transit system.
Chief Skretch pointed to one such example of police vigilance in the subways stopping someone from potentially committing a more serious crime.
On Feb. 6, Elijah Gay, 22, was caught by transit cops skipping payment at the 42nd Street Grand Central station in Midtown.
“Immediately after engaging with this individual, he refuses to provide his identification and gives us a false name. This individual is obviously known to us on other identification so he’s summarily arrested and a kitchen knife is recovered from his left front pocket,” Chief Skretch said.
Police say Gay was wanted for a callous grand larceny and robbery pattern dating back to December of last year in which he allegedly targeted seniors as old as 90.
Gay is accused of stalking his prey, selecting those who can’t defend themselves. On Dec. 23 Gay allegedly pushed a 78-year-old man to the ground outside of 1322 Second Avenue after he had just pickpocketed him.
On Jan. 12 at the corner of Broadway and Prince Street, he allegedly pickpocketed an 83-year-old man. Later that month on Jan. 26, inside of the 72nd Street and Broadway Station, he purportedly snatched the wallet belonging to a 76-year-old woman.
Finally, he apparently snatched a handbag from a 90-year-old woman inside of the Columbus Circle station.
Gay, police sources said, has a lengthy criminal record dating back to his teenage years. Police say Gay’s proficiency for crime is so extensive and longstanding that he has been connected to four separate city-wide robbery patterns dating back to 2017, making police fume that he is still able to return to the street and continue his crime spree.
“You can understand how worrisome this offender was to us given his propensity for violence as we saw in that early incident. At this rate, looking at the age of the victims, if we let him keep going he was probably going to rob a 100 year-old-person by next week,” Sgt. Patrick Kwan said. “He’s displayed a clear disdain for the law and is looking to victimize the most vulnerable New Yorkers.”
Gay was arraigned on Feb. 8 and a judge set bail at $10,000 cash or $100,000 bond and his next court date will be on Feb. 13.
Gay’s arrest, transit police officials say, underscores the importance of busting fare evasion.
Attempting to dispel the notion that the NYPD are targeting low-income individuals who can’t afford the price of a ride, Chief Skretch told amNewYork Metro they have found a connection between those who hop the turnstile and who perform over crimes in and out of the subway.
In another incident, on Feb. 6 inside of the Columbus Circle train station, police say they stopped a 21-year-old turnstile jumper attempting to bring a loaded firearm into the bustling station.
“When they confront this individual, in an open right pocket, a nine-millimeter black Taurus is observed and recovered from this individual,” Chief Skretch said.