Bill De Blasio dismisses recent surge in NYC subway thefts

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Mayor Bill de Blasio dismissed a recent surge in subway thefts, insisting Monday an “overall reality” indicated NYPD presence on trains and in stations has proved effective at deterring crime.

In September, a 50 percent increase in thefts targeting straphangers spurred an overall increase in felony subway crime, The Post reported Sunday.

But during his daily press briefing, de Blasio sought to paint a rosy picture of safety in the public transit system while not offering new solutions to recent developments underground — or acknowledging the troubling trend his police department’s statistics depicts. 

“The overall reality of the subways I think speaks volumes. We surged NYPD officers into the subways over the last year, highest levels we had seen in decades, had a huge impact,” he said in response to a question from The Post.

“We’ll keep doing that whenever we need to and wherever we need to. If there is a particular pattern of a particular type of crime, that is handled in a pinpoint fashion. That’s precision policing. We’ll make the deployments as needed to address any trend.

In September, a 50 percent increase in thefts targeting straphangers spurred an overall increase in felony subway crime
In September, a 50 percent increase in thefts targeting straphangers spurred an overall increase in felony subway crime
Lev Radin/Pacific Press/Shutterstock

He added, “Overall, we’ve seen a lot of success with the NYPD presence in the subways, but we’ll keep refining it.”

De Blasio’s comments come after last month there were 96 grand larcenies in the subway system, compared to 64 in August and 55 in July, according to the NYPD’s figures. Subway robberies also jumped in September by 18 percent, to 52 robberies from 44 in August, the data shows.

The crimes helped drive an overall 25 percent uptick in felonies committed in the system from August to last month, according to the NYPD.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has insisted that NYPD presence in the New York subways has been effective despite the rise in crime.
Mayor Bill de Blasio has insisted that NYPD presence in the New York subways has been effective despite the rise in crime.
Getty Images

Asked Monday about what could explain the subway theft surge, the mayor speculated that “a small number” of thieves had been acting in “a coordinated fashion.”

“I think with certain crimes you see criminals in a coordinated fashion going at a certain type of crime. That’s exactly what precision policing attacks, that’s exactly what the NYPD has had extraordinary success in identifying and then stopping,” he said. “Sometimes, it is a very small number of people who do crimes like that and the NYPD has more and more each year, found them, arrested them, and ensured that they are prosecuted.”

Meanwhile, during an MTA board meeting Monday, a police official noted that crime in the subway is lower this year than in 2020, while acknowledging the concerning September stats.

MTA police have that there has been lower rates of crime this year than in 2020 on subway platforms.
MTA police have that there has been lower rates of crime this year than in 2020 on subway platforms.
Christopher Sadowski

“The year-to-date crime rate is down in the subway system, though we took an uptick in overall crime for September,” NYPD Inspector Raymond Porteus told board members Monday. “A number of these recent crimes resulted in an arrest at or near the scene.”

Overall, felony crime is down 13.8 percent in 2021 compared to 2020, according to NYPD data.

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