Reversing a trend, robberies are down 30.7% in subways compared to a year ago, according to NYPD data released Monday.
The reduction in robberies, as well as grand larceny — down 7.9% — follows a spate of thefts of phones and other electronic devices in the system last year. In April 2012, robberies were up 27.3% and grand larcenies increased by 18.3% compared to the same period in 2011.
“It’s pretty directly attributable to the change in tactics of the transit bureau,” said Bill Henderson, the executive director of the MTA’s citizens advisory council.
Henderson cited the use of decoy sting operations and a public awareness campaign regarding electronic devices.
“It seems every couple of years, the criminals on the subway change their tactics, so the police have to go out and do something new to prevent it, so they have,” Henderson said.
The data presented to the MTA’s board meeting showed 205 robberies from January to April, compared to 296 in the same time frame last year. Grand larcenies, meanwhile, fell to 488 from 530.
"Part of this decrease can be attributed to continued success of our decoy operations," the NYPD said in a statement. "We substantially increased the number of our decoy teams and the frequency of our operations in the end of 2011. System-wide, we have conducted 130 decoy operations this year, resulting in 54 arrests – 36 of those for grand larceny."
When asked during the board meeting by acting MTA Chair Fernando Ferrer where the crime reductions occurred, NYPD Chief of Transit Joseph Fox said, “We’re doing well in all the boroughs.”
“It’s spread across the system,” Fox said of the improvement in the crime numbers.
From January to April 2013, there have been 15% fewer major felonies — seven categories of crime that include robbery, grand larceny, rape and murder — compared to the same period last year.
Further, the daily average of major felonies fell to 6.3, from 7.4; the daily robbery average decreased to 1.7 from 2.5.
MTA board member Andrew Albert praised the “spirited” campaign police enacted to get the number of subway thefts and robberies down.
“That’s with record ridership — that’s even better,” Albert said. “The best takeaway was that this was successful in all four boroughs [with subways].”
Gene Russianoff, a transit advocate and counsel for the Straphangers Campaign, attributed the change to policing, not riders being more careful with their gadgets.
“I think a byproduct of having more presence of cops is having a downturn in crime,” he said. “They are crimes of opportunity.”