Subway crime has risen 7.5% in 2015, while arrests and stops are down

Subway crime has risen 7.5% this year, while arrests and police stops are down significantly, new data shows.
Subway crime has risen 7.5% this year, while arrests and police stops are down significantly, new data shows. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Kevin Winter

Subway crime has risen 7.5% this year, while arrests and police stops are down significantly, new data shows.

About 2,000 crimes have taken place in transit through Nov. 1, an increase of about 140 from the year before, according to the NYPD. Almost 425 riders have been robbed this year, up from 353 the year before — a spike of 20%. There has also been a 15% increase in felony assaults, from 178 to 205.

Many of the victims are drowsy riders who fall asleep on the train. In 2010, just 13% of subway crime victims were asleep when they were targeted, according to the police. Dozing riders now make up 36% of people who file criminal complaints.

“One out of every 3 of those 6.5 crimes a day are people comfortable enough to sleep on the subways,” said NYPD Transit Chief Joseph Fox, during a recent MTA meeting.

“Three-quarters of all our crimes are either sleeping passengers, unattended property or bag picks.”

The uptick comes as transit arrests are down about 7.4% this year. The NYPD has collared 40,739 riders this year, down from about 44,000 in 2014.

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said Monday that police were trying to use more discretion and handcuff fewer people.

“We are, in this city, making a conscious effort to reduce arrests, summonses, encouraging officers to use discretion,” he said. “Our focus here is very significantly on violent crime, as well as continuing our focus on quality of life.”

He added that enforcement targeting a man who put his feet on a subway seat recently led to an arrest for a violent crime. The rider was wanted for questioning in a gruesome stabbing in January and authorities charged him with murder.

One outlier has been gun arrests — cops have made almost 48% more this year than 2014. More than 30 illegal guns have been taken from straphangers, up from 21 last year.

A 17-year-old girl, for instance, was arrested last month for jumping a turnstile with a .32-caliber revolver in her bag in Brooklyn.

Summonses and arrests for fare evasion have dipped significantly. A summons is given at the scene to a rider who jumps a turnstile, while repeat farebeaters and riders who don’t have identification are arrested. There has been a 12.6% decrease in fare evasion summonses in 2015 — from 59,504 last year to 52,011 this year, transit data shows. Arrests of riders who don’t pay have dipped less, at 2.5%.

Police stops in the subway have plunged as well, part of a larger citywide trend. There has been about a 46% decrease in stops — about 865 in 2015, down from almost 1,590 in 2014.

Manhattan has seen a significant spike in crime this year, up 9.5%. Robberies in the borough’s subway stations have risen almost 23.5%, and felony assaults by 34%. However, crime has decreased during the most recent 28-day period.

Kenneth Howell, a 60-year-old academic editor from Auburndale, said he thinks the uptick in crime has been caused by crowding.

“There are more people down here, but you don’t know what kind of people they are,” he said.

Joey Smith, 25, an Upper East Side resident who works for WebMD, said he’s never been a crime victim, but his sister’s wallet was pickpocketed on the No. 6 train.

“We were surprised just because you never think it’s gonna happen to you, and then it was just very weird — this guy bumped into her and walked out. And then she was like, ‘Oh [expletive].'” he said.

“And then we put two and two together, and figured it out.”

Gotham Rajput, 40, a software engineer of the Upper West Side, said he hasn’t noticed an increase in crime, but has noticed bad behavior from his fellow subway riders.

“I have seen people acting nasty and not following subway rules and etiquettes,” he said.