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Special prosecutor for subway crimes urged

A G train approaches the 4th Ave/9th Street

A G train approaches the 4th Ave/9th Street subway station in Brooklyn. (March 15, 2012) Photo Credit: amNY/Jason Andrew

An MTA board member thinks the city should have a separate prosecutor handling crimes that take place on the subway.

Responding to an increase in underground crime this year, some of which is being blamed on repeat offenders, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board member, Charles Moerdler, said Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo should appoint a special prosecutor to oversee all subway crime cases instead of having each borough's district attorney do so. He suggested the city try it for a year.

Moerdler said the special prosecutor could "make it clear to those people who like to engage in that that crime does not necessarily have to pay."

A Cuomo spokesman declined to comment on the proposal.

MTA chairman Joseph Lhota said he has spoken with all five district attorneys and planned to meet with NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly tomorrow to discuss "how to jointly work with the district attorneys on this issue."

At Monday's transit committee meeting, NYPD Transit Bureau Chief Joseph Fox said that, although subway crime year-to-date is more than 20 percent higher than in 2011, felonies, such as murder, rape and robbery, declined slightly last month.

He said the decrease -- there were three fewer major crimes in March -- was "a promising indicator that our enforcement effort strategies are yielding positive results."

Fox also said fewer electronic devices were being stolen from straphangers. While more than 62 percent of grand larcenies in January involved the theft of smartphones and e-readers, less than half of all grand larceny crimes last month were of those and similar electronic items.But he said thefts from sleeping passengers had nearly doubled over the same period.

Nearly 40 criminals prosecuted this year for crimes on the subway had parole conditions that limited or prevented them from using the subway, he said. Two people who violated those conditions were sent back to jail, he said.

one problem police are facing, he said, was that thefts of sleeping passengers had nearly doubled over the same period.

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