In 2020 there have already been six homicides, a figure that exceeds the last three years combined
Fewer passengers, more room for crime
Andrés Correa Guatarasma / Courtesy
New York City Subway stations and cars are emptier and cleaner than before, but that doesn’t mean they are safer.
As the number of subway riders plunged to 30% of its pre-pandemic level, petty crime also declined, paralleling a night shutdown since May from 1 to 5 a.m. for deep cleaning and homeless eviction.
But lately there has been an increase in violent crime. Statistics from the Police Department show that the number of homicides, rapes, assaults and robberies reported in the Metro is higher this year than during the same period in 2019.
While the Metro is not as dangerous as it was in the 70’s and 80’s, riddled with crime, attacks and vandalism have skyrocketed and In 2020 there have already been six homicides, a figure that exceeds the last three years: 2019 (2), 2018 (1) and 2017 (zero).
After two rapes last year, five have been reported this year. Thefts have increased 16%: there are 22 complaints in 2020, after five in the same period of 2019.
While there are fewer potential petty crime victims like pickpockets, offenders can be emboldened by the lack of witnesses, especially if they target a single person present on a wagon or platform.
“It is a reflection of what is happening in the city in general, and it’s a reflection that the (transportation) system has been emptier than we’ve seen it in a long time, ”said Sarah Feinberg, Acting President of New York City Transit (NYCT).
Train and bus workers have also been attacked in 2020, in addition to infections and deaths from the virus. Misdemeanor and felony assaults on public transportation employees have increased 57% so far this year, compared to 2019.
Erik Garcés, a train conductor, said the violence “reminds us of bad days.” In June, two men tried to kick his cabin door open. Months later, a passenger broke a glass bottle on his head.
Traffic officers have called for more uniformed presence to patrol, following complaints from passengers and workers see fewer police officers.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) hired 85 uniformed and unarmed security guards to report crimes to law enforcement. Up to 60 MTA and 300 NYPD Police Officers Patrol the Metro, according to the transit agency.
“We have these high-profile crimes at times, but that does not define the system,” he assured The New York Times Edward Delatorre, chief of the Traffic Police.
Today in New York Today
• Violent crime rises in subways
• Moving to N.Y.C. during a pandemic https://t.co/NRjXvbcZM7
– NYT Metro (@NYTMetro) October 12, 2020