NYPD Transit Chief: Gadgets fueling increase in crime


Every three or four months (January, April), those who cover the subways get to dust off the same old story about crime underground, and today, we have the August edition of that tale. Courtesy of John Doyle and The Daily News, we learn that subway thieves are still targeting electronics as grand larcenies — defined as the theft of a cellular communication device — have risen 28 percent this year, offsetting any gains due to the decrease of more serious subway crimes. “The system is as safe as it’s ever been, but you need to be mindful,” Joseph Fox, the new head of the NYPD’s transit bureau, said. “Be aware when the doors are closing; there are still some people who will reach in and snatch [your belongings].”

As the News notes, felony assaults are down this year, but robberies and grand larcenies mostly concerning iPods, smart phones and iPads are up. Some riders say they won’t use their eReaders underground, which defeats the purpose of carrying them around, but the simple solution is vigilance. Hold onto your stuff; keep an eye on those around you; and use common sense on some of the less crowded subways. “I don’t take my phone out or take a Kindle or iPad out,” Amy Kirkhem said to The News. “I could see it being easy for someone to grab. You don’t want to be careless.”

Categories : Asides, Subway Security

8 Responses to “NYPD Transit Chief: Gadgets fueling increase in crime”

  1. Edward says:

    So let me get this straight: thieves target expensive, portable items than can easily be taken from distracted subway riders? That may explain why nobody has touched the Radio Shack HiFi/8-Track Stereo system I lug onto the IRT every day. Some mad beats on that MF, le’me tell ya!

  2. Alon Levy says:

    This increase in crime doesn’t really mean the subway is less safe. A society in which nobody has smartphones won’t have any smartphone theft. The trick is to figure out the larceny rate relative to how many people bring their phones on the subway.

    As a side note, people make the same mistake with traffic accidents. They look at raw numbers or per capita numbers, and ignore how many opportunities for accidents there are – how many cars and how many pedestrians. The safety case for freeways is based on this conflation: if you remove all pedestrian activity, fewer pedestrians will die in crashes. And much of the case of the anti-bike people on PPW is that there are more accidents on 9th Avenue than on PPW, never mind how many cyclists go on 9th and how many brave mixed traffic on PPW.

  3. Kai B says:

    I feel conflicted about the issue. In theory, yes, if you want to play it safe you couldn’t have your devices out. However, if I’m riding on a train and there’s people with their laptops, iPads, and iPhones out, it makes me smile about how safe the system is today.


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