Metro-North crime increases for the year
Published 4:47 pm, Tuesday, November 23, 2010
STAMFORD -- From January to October, felony crimes on the Metro-North Railroad were up 40 percent over last year, including a 78 percent increase in robberies, with crime increasing in four of seven offenses reported by Metropolitan Transportation Authority Police this week.
In the first 10 months of the year, the number of robberies increased from nine to 16, while grand larcenies increased by 47 percent from 60 to 88, according to the numbers provided to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board last week.
Year to date, overall crime across the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Police's entire coverage area is up 11 percent, with a total of 272 felonies in 2010, compared to 246 felonies through October of last year, according to statistics.
There were no murders or rapes in 2009 or thus far in 2010 on Metro-North, though robberies increased from 9 to 16 from year to year, a spike attributable largely to hold-ups that took place in the Mount Vernon, N.Y. area, Metropolitan Transportation Authority Police Chief Michael Coan said.
Coan said that the increase in grand larceny charges was attributable to a trio of copper thieves the MTA police apprehended for stealing the valuable metal from rail depots on the Hudson line between the Philips Manor and Ludlow stations, and additional thefts from vehicles on the Hudson Line.
"I don't want to minimize the numbers because a crime is a crime," Coan said. "If you look at the number of felonies across the entire system including all the services it comes to less than one index crime a day."
Members of the Connecticut Rail Commuter Council said that they would like to see more specific breakouts for New Haven line crimes, and would be concerned if there were increases in crime at or around Connecticut stations.
Connecticut Rail Commuter Council Chairman Jim Cameron said that if there is a recurring pattern of car break-ins at Connecticut stations, then he would hope local departments would assist the MTA police by performing patrols of parking lots and other facilities.
"If any of these stats reflect things that go on at the stations it is incumbent on the towns to step up their patrols," Cameron said. "The MTA Police are much too small and spread far too thin to cover everything on the New Haven Line."
In recent weeks, police have investigated a series of car break-ins on the lower New Haven Line at stations including Greens Farms in Westport, according to the MTA police.
The MTA Police, which was incorporated in 1998, includes 700 uniformed officers who enforce laws over a 47,000 square mile area in New York, Long Island and Connecticut covering 14 counties, including law enforcement on Staten Island Rapid Transit.
Metro-North Railroad spokeswoman Marjorie Anders said that the increases in crime were less a trend than the work of a few criminals, and that riders should feel confident that the service is well-policed.
"It is a fundamentally safe system especially when you look at the numbers and see less than one major crime a day systemwide for the year and for the month of October," Anders said.
Cameron said that it is likely that the increase in crime has some relationship to the down economy, and is probably not specific to Metro-North.
"I think there is a desperation to find money period for some people," Cameron said. "I think it is incumbent on the towns that derive parking revenue from the lots to step up their patrols."
Coan said that for the year the department has investigated 34 grand larcenies at Grand Central Terminal, mostly comprised of credit-card theft and to a lesser extent stolen laptops.
MTA police are also working with local police departments in both Connecticut and New York State to deter copper thefts by increasing scrutiny of the sale of the metal.
"If you are buying or selling copper these days you will probably be on film," Coan said. "We check these yards and check the places selling copper and cross reference it with people we've arrested in the past for theft. They should know they are not going to get away with it."