SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A spate of crimes, mostly thefts, occurred at BART stations Monday, according to police at the transit agency.
The rash of five separate robberies was the latest in a wave of increasing crimes on the transit system as officials struggle with ways to address the problem.
At 10:17 p.m., a male victim reported that he was robbed at the Montgomery station in San Francisco. He said two suspects held him down and stole his laptop computer before running out of the station, police said.
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The suspects were described as juvenile males and one was wearing a white hoodie. They remain at large, police said.
At the MacArthur station in Oakland, a female victim reported at 10:38 p.m. that a male juvenile grabbed her cellphone from her hand, then ran off a train with three other male subjects.
Police detained two suspects but the victim could not confirm they were involved. They were released to their parents, police said.
At the Pittsburg/Bay Point station, a victim reported at 9:14 p.m. that their 2008 Taizu motor scooter was taken from the motorcycle parking area sometime between 9:30 a.m. and 9:05 p.m.
At the Coliseum station, a victim’s car was broken into between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. and the battery was removed from under the hood, police said.
At 7:01 p.m., a victim at the San Leandro station reported that a juvenile suspect stole his laptop after he’d fallen asleep. The suspect, who was with a group of about five other juveniles, ran out of the station and was not located, police said.
At the El Cerrito Plaza station, a black 1998 Honda Accord that was parked at the station was stolen between 8:45 a.m. and 6:30 p.m., police said.
On Monday, BART authorities announced the arrest of a suspect in two recent assaults just hours after police had distributed photos from surveillance video.
If it seems like random thefts and assaults on BART are happening more often, it’s because they are.
On Monday, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that calls for help on BART are up 29 percent and felony arrests are down by 23 percent compared to last year.
The biggest jumps were in three types of crime. There have been six reports of rape this year compared to one last year. 138 robberies have been reported so far in 2017 compared to 102 last year.
And there have been 264 assault called in during the first seven months of 2017, compared to 197 this time in 2016.
BART Board of Directors member Debra Allen is not surprised at the increase in crime.
“We’re seeing increasing crime throughout our cities; all of the cities that our transit systems runs through as well,” said Allen.
There are 40 vacancies in the BART police department, but under staffing isn’t the only problem. The department is run by the chief, the general manager, the Citizens Review Board and Office of the Independent Police Auditor.
“The result of that over-regulation is that we now have BART police manual, policy manual that is 800 pages long,” explained Allen.
Allen said she hears from police about the sheer number of rules and how it impacts their willingness to act.
“They’re just reluctant to cross over a line that might violate a policy,” said Allen. “That might lead to some type of personnel reprimand that stays with them for their career.”
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