Theft numbers prompt subway nap warning

April 25, 2012 4:45:12 AM PDT
There has been a disturbing spike in thefts and other crimes on subway, and now city officials are warning against falling asleep while riding the rails.

The good news is that overall felonies, including grand larceny, are down. But the bad news is that thefts among passengers are up. And officials say that taking a nap could make you a target.

In March, there were 35 thefts involving sleeping passengers, compared to 24 in February and 19 in January. And thieves are targeting something very specific - electronics, particularly iPods, iPhones and iPads.

"I'm always aware of my surroundings," one passenger said. "I always want to make sure my bags are safe. I'm always aware of that."

Part of the problem, at least in the eyes of some MTA board members, is repeat offenders who just get a slap on the wrist. For example, 69-year-old Thomas Coles was arrested in March on the No. 6 train for attempting to use a razor blade and cut open the pocket of a sleeping man.

Police say he has 35 prior arrests, including attempted murder, grand larceny, burglary, robbery and weapons possession.

For the subway crime last month, Coles got only nine months.

The MTA chairman and NYPD commissioner will be meeting Wednesday to discuss the issue.

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