Police crack down on NJ Transit fare beaters

July 16, 2012 3:31:12 PM PDT
Police are cracking down on scammers looking for a free ride on New Jersey Transit.

Transit and law enforcement officials have developed new strategies to combat the use of counterfeit tickets on trains, buses and light rail vehicles.

More than 200 people, a small percentage of them employees but mostly riders, were arrested for ticket fraud in the past 18 months, NJ Transit Police Chief Christopher Trucillo said.

"These are not victimless crimes," Trucillo said. "These criminal acts financially penalize the hundreds of thousands of NJ Transit customers who lawfully utilize our system every weekday."

NJ Transit and law enforcement officials unveiled the new, hologram-embedded ticket Monday at Newark's Penn Station. Drivers and conductors on NJ Transit trains, buses and the light rail system are being given special flashlights containing ultra-violet scanners that can detect the hologram. The embedded image will be changed each month to thwart ever-more-sophisticated counterfeiters, Trucillo said.

The process is not expected to take any more time than the present system, officials said.

NJ Transit employees who discover a ticket they believe to be fraudulent will alert authorities, Trucillo said. Those arrested for manufacturing or possessing a counterfeit ticket can face forgery charges that carry up to 18 months in jail and a $10,000 fine, transit officials said.

The agency plans to spend $80,000 to implement the new ticket system, according to Executive Director James Weinstein: about $40,000 for the special flashlights and about $40,000 per year for the hologram-embedded paper stock. Weinstein said the cost won't be borne by taxpayers, and the agency will ultimately save money if counterfeiting can be reined in.

"The new procedures being implemented today will protect the interests of our law-abiding customers, and protect the interests of hard-working New Jersey taxpayers," Weinstein said.

NJ Transit says it is the nation's largest statewide public transportation system with more than 895,000 weekday trips on 260 bus routes, three light rail lines, 12 commuter rail lines and a paratransit service.

ONLINE: njtransit.com

Information from The Associated Press

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