BART police crack down on crime

Francesa Ledesma /File

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The total number of thefts involving electronic devices at BART stations has decreased over the last few months, likely as a result of BART Police Department’s efforts to crack down on crime, said BART spokesperson Chris Filippi.

There have been nine thefts of electronic devices so far this month — a significant decrease from 24 in July and 58 in March, according to a BART press release issued Tuesday. Filippi said because several types of crimes on BART have increased this year, BART police has increased its efforts to prevent and respond to crime.

“We already are seeing a difference because there’s an overall trend downwards,” Filippi said. “We hope that that number will continue to go in a positive direction.”

According to Filippi, BART is using multiple strategies to tackle crime, including having officers work overtime, increasing the visibility of officers in BART stations to serve as a visible deterrent against crime and deploying an anti-robbery team to various stations.

Recently, BART has been the subject of several major crimes. On April 22, 40 to 60 teens swarmed the Coliseum BART station and commandeered a train car, where they allegedly robbed and beat several riders, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

BART has seen a systemwide increase of thefts involving electronic devices, according to Filippi. Larceny, which is any theft that is under $950 in value, has the highest number of incidents of major crimes on the BART.

Filippi noted that crime on the BART tends to go up and down, and that it’s difficult to determine what causes these changes in crime rates.

“It’s important to point out that the issues that we have with crime are really not that different than the issues of crime in the communities that we serve. BART really is a reflection of the communities we serve,” Filippi said. “It’s very common that our crime rate will ebb and flow with the crime rate of the communities we serve.”

The SF Chronicle has criticized BART for its lack of transparency regarding its crime rates. According to the SF Chronicle, BART stopped producing its daily crime log after several high-profile crimes. But Filippi said BART is making its crime information available to the public in many ways, including publishing all crimes on the CrimeMapping website and releasing a daily crime log via email.

According to Filippi, BART is also making a greater effort to raise public awareness by making regular announcements on trains and in stations to advise riders to be more aware of their surroundings and putting posters in cars that will be printed in multiple languages to reach the diversity of BART’s ridership.

“One violent crime on BART is one too many, and we take all of these reports extremely seriously,” Filippi said. “We’re reaching out to the public — we’re trying to make them partners in this. … We’re hoping that this is all going to pay off and make the system as safe as possible.”

Contact Chantelle Lee at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @ChantelleHLee.