Subway crime is up as MTA unveils wireless service

Riders who use pricey devices by subway doors are at risk of the “snatch-and-go” theft technique, transit police warn.

Calling all criminals: Wireless phone service will be available in seven underground stations today, but some worry the new service may appeal to thieves as much as straphangers.

Just yesterday, the NYPD revealed that robberies in the subway are skyrocketing, up nearly 40 percent this past August compared to August 2010.

And since January, 1,000 grand larcenies have been reported underground — a spike from the 787 reported in 2010.

The crime surge is mainly due to the prevalence of portable electronic devices, especially the iPhone 4, Assistant Chief Owen Monaghan said yesterday. He added that criminals are known to lurk in between train cars to spy on potential victims before robbing them.

“Much of the crime is happening on weekends —46 percent happens on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday,” he said.

To combat the crime surge, the NYPD is adding extra cops on the rails on weekends.

With the introduction of cell service, rider advocate Bill Henderson says he’s “concerned” that more opportunities to flash cell phones will only make it easier for thieves.

“It will encourage people to bring them out,” he said  of pricey phones.

And one subway rider told Metro she’d rather see the MTA invest in toll clerks than cell phone service.
 
“When there’s more of an official presence, then less things can happen,” Crown Heights student Beverly Blackman, 47, said. “[Now] there’s no one watching.”

Sorry, Verizon

Transit Wireless will start providing service for AT&T and T-Mobile customers at the following stations today:
   
A, C, E station at Eighth Avenue and West 14th Street
L station at Eighth Avenue and West 14th Street
C, E station at Eighth Avenue and West 23rd Street
1, 2, 3 station at Seventh Avenue and West 14th Street
F, M station at Sixth Avenue and West 14th Street
L station at Sixth Avenue and West 14th Street

Follow Emily Anne Epstein on Twitter @EmilyatMetro.
 


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