According to the NYPD, 2010 will see the first year-over-year subway crime increase since 2004, thanks mostly to that age-old crime syndicate: roving gangs of hormonal, hooligan teenagers. Major crime is up five percent this year already, largely due to teens stealing iPods, cellphones and other electronic devices from each other, according to NYPD spokesman Paul Browne. Overall, the subways are on pace to have more than 2,100 major crimes this year, compared with 2,034 in 2009. Adding in the increase in vandals and fare jumpers, some nervous nellies may be counting the Metrocard swipes, expecting the return of the bad old days any second now.
Having said that, context is everything: in 2004, cops counted 3,286 subway crimes, about 55 percent more than this year. And there has been only one murder and one rape reported on the subway this year as well, an actual decrease from last year. "While there's been an increase in some subway crime, the current average of 5.9 crimes per day is still half of the 12 crimes per day in the subway system in 2000, and a fraction of the 40 crimes per day in 1990, even though there were a million fewer riders then," said Browne. Even the art of pickpocketing is dying out rapidly. Interestingly, the crime that is happening isn't even occurring late at night: according to NYPD Transit Bureau Chief Raymond Diaz, most subway crimes actually occur between noon and 8 p.m.