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BART Warns Passengers Of Fraud And Theft At Stations

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BART Ticket Gate

Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) customers pass through a fare gate at the San Francisco Embarcadero station. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — BART officials are warning the public to beware of individuals selling fraudulent fare cards at the subway’s stations to ticket buyers.

BART board member Lynette Sweet said that sellers will use altered or discarded BART tickets that have a small amount of money still stored inside the computer strips and printed on top.

“They’ll sell them to unsuspecting ticket buyers who think they are getting one for $15 when there’s only 15 cents on the strip,” Sweet said. “It’s like ticket scalping.”

When the would-be rider tries to enter the turnstyle, the ticket is rejected for not having enough money on it. The minimum value of a ticket to access a BART train is $1.75.

BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost said the problem is most pronounced at BART’s Coliseum station, near the O.co Coliseum and Oracle Arena, used frequently by many thousands of sports and concert fans.

The scammers approach people waiting in line to buy BART tickets
from machines, Trost said.

“At the Coliseum station, they’ve caught a lot of people,” Trost said. “They’ll tell people that it’s confusing to buy tickets, when it’s not confusing, and they will sell them a fraudulent ticket for $5.”

Bart police spokeswoman Era Jenkins said that people should always purchase tickets from BART’s machines, or at least from someone they know.

“We do arrest people for altering tickets or for finding tickets and selling them,” Jenkins said.

Along with fraudulent tickets, BART officials want to do something about another problem at the stations — thefts of sought-after cell phones and tablet computers, mostly iPhones and iPads made by Apple Corp.

So far this year, there have been 244 “snatch and run” thefts of electronics devices at BART, and of those, 186, or 76 percent, were Apple brand products, Jenkins said.

In 2011, there were 215 such thefts during the same timeframe, 80 percent of them Apple products.

Sweet said that after hearing about the rash of robberies of iPhones and iPads at its meeting Thursday, the BART Board of Directors is considering drafting a letter to Cupertino-based Apple urging the company to retrofit their products to make it harder for thieves to resell them.

Typically after the products are stolen, they are sold to someone for about $50 who then prepares the purloined electronics for resale by “jailbreaking,” or erasing the victim’s information on them, Sweet said.

The iPhones and iPads may then be resold “for a couple hundred dollars,” at times even openly at urban corner stores, she said.

“Apple should safeguard them, make it harder to reprogram them,” Sweet said. “The (resale) market is huge.”

Jenkins said that a BART deputy chief of police once “reached out to Apple without success” to discuss ways of discouraging thefts its products.

Apple Corp.’s Cupertino headquarters did not return a reporter’s request for a comment.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed)

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