With station agents removed from many subway entrances, small-time crooks have been filling the void. Their scam is simple: they vandalize the MetroCard vending machine, then sell swipes to commuters who don't want to bother going around to another entrance with a functional machine. Hey, it's a living, and it sure beats token sucking. And the city profits too, because cops are writing lots of summonses to riders who, instead of buying a swipe, jump the turnstile instead.
Though the number of summonses issued for fare beating has remained flat this year, at about 50,000, the NYPD is reporting a spike in arrests. (Only suspects with arrest warrants or more than five fare-evasion tickets in the past year get arrested for fare evasion.) The Daily News reports that cops have been targeting stations where MetroCard vending machines are frequently vandalized, and have collared 15,700 fare beaters so far this year, an 11% increase over last year. Too bad they can't, you know, arrest the vandals.
The NYPD also says grand larcenies are trending. In August, there were 14.6% more arrests for grand larceny than in the same month a year ago, and there's an overall increase of 2.5% so far this year. NYPD spokesman Paul Browne attributes the underground crime wave to sheeple fiddling with their trendy new gadgets by the subway doors, giving thieves the perfect opportunity to grab and dash as the doors are closing.
"We often see spikes in thefts of popular items, especially in teen-on-teen crime after school," Browne tells the Journal (paywall). "For example, when eight-ball jackets were popular among teens, we saw a spike in their thefts. Same thing when certain expensive sneakers became popular. In more recent years, Sidekicks, cellphones and iPhones were targeted." We kind of love that the NYPD spokesman's cultural references take us back to the Arsenio Hall era, by way of David Puddy.