MTA sees spike in thefts of sleeping subway riders

It's not a great idea to fall asleep on the subway.
It’s not a great idea to fall asleep on the subway. Photo Credit: Mike McIntee

Subway riders, don’t nod off: There were 56 cases of sleeping passengers getting pickpocketed in April, according to NYPD Transit Chief Joe Fox.

At an MTA board meeting Monday, Fox said a 50-crime hike in major felony crimes last month compared to the prior year was due to the spike in grand larcies targeting sleeping subway riders.

These crimes of opportunity made up more than a quarter of the 217 major felonies in the transit system in April, while in January they were 19% of total crime. “That’s a number that’s been increasing steadily,” Fox said.

NYPD Transit deployed more police officers and extended patrols to tamp down on the spike in subway crime, leading to three arrests last week.

Kevin Morales, 23, of Brooklyn and 21-year-old John Hildalgo of Queens were arrested on Broadway and 32nd Street Thursday for allegedly swiping cellphones from unsuspecting train riders at 5 a.m. on a southbound N train.

A witness on the train notified the train conductor, who relayed the message to police, according to an NYPD spokeswoman. Morales, being held until his next court date, was allegedly holding a backpack with four phones, an Apple iPod, three watches and a bracelet belonging to at least two men, 34 and 36. A search at Morales’ Gravesend home turned up 16 cellphones, the NYPD alleged.

“He was arrested less than a month ago for the very same crime at the 8th Avenue station in Brooklyn,” Fox said.

Meanwhile, on Saturday, a drunk man who fell asleep on a Q train from Times Square at 2 a.m., woke up at the Cortelyou Street station without his wallet and cellphone, according to the NYPD spokeswoman.

Mark Gilmore, 32, of the Bronx was arrested at a station near Prospect Park after police spotted him walking between train cars and approaching sleeping riders, according to Fox.

He allegedly had five cellphones and eight credit cards on him. Three victims told the cops they had been robbed and Gilmore was charged with grand larcenies, according to Fox.

Legal Aid attorneys could not be reached.