Police have arrested a man they say is a chronic subway thief preying on sleeping passengers.
Harlem resident Sidney Phifer, 72, was arrested Saturday when officers saw him walking between train cars, the New York Daily News reported. He had previously been arrested more than a dozen times for stealing items from sleeping subway riders.
NYPD Transit Chief Joseph Fox praised officers Timothy Trotter and Higinio Macias for the arrest, saying they nabbed a chronic subway criminal, the Daily News added.
Meet Task Force POs Trotter & Macias – nabbed a chronic sleeping passenger criminal on the prowl for more victims. pic.twitter.com/XCKfNrJyiS
— Chief Joseph Fox (@NYPDTransit) February 16, 2016
The arrest came on the heels of a newly refocused emphasis on subway crime after the city suffered a recent rash of slashings, and subway crimes were reportedly up 36 percent from last January, according toNY1.
“Subways are not for sleeping. I know a lot of people are tired. They work very hard. But our officers are going to be instructed to start waking people up. Seriously,” Police Commissioner William Bratton said to NY1.
Phifer began his subway criminal activity in the early ’80s when he was paroled from prison for a robbery, and he began targeting sleeping commuters, officials said to the Daily News. Over the next 35 years, nearly all of his arrests took place in the subway system.