Subway crime up 10.8%, NYPD says, with more sleeping victims

Transit crimes made up 2% of overall city crime, the police say.

Crime in the subways rose by 10.8% in 2015, according to NYPD statistics, and about half of all incidents were property crimes, with thieves increasingly targeting sleeping passengers, officials said at a briefing Monday.

There were 2,499 crime incidents in 2015, an increase of 244 crimes over 2014. Transit crimes made up about 2% of overall city crime, said Dermot Shea, the deputy commissioner for operations.

“It’s not a tide that needs to be turned. We’re in a very good place with crime numbers,” said NYPD Transit Chief Joseph Fox. “The fact that people are comfortable enough to be leaving bags next to them, to be sleeping on trains — people actually plan their napping schedule on train rides.”

The increase follows 2014, which saw the third-lowest total in the history of subway crime, Fox said.

Grand larcenies with a sleeping passenger as the victim made up 24.3% of all 2015 major felonies in transit, according to NYPD statistics. And 50.3% of all subway crimes were nonviolent thefts, a percentage that has steadily risen over the past several years.

“There’s the appearance and the reality that it’s a very safe system,” Fox said. “We want to applaud the members of our transit bureau and our MTA who got the system to the level of safety that it is. But we still want to caution people not to, essentially, give their property away.”

The MTA declined to comment on the NYPD statistics.

Alison Fox