Alarming increase in transit crimes despite new initiative underground

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Despite a new initiative underground, newly released police statistics reveal an alarming increase in transit crimes over the last week.

Falling asleep on the subway with your phone in your hand is far from ideal, but stealing a pricey cellphone is still larceny - grand larceny in fact.

The latest statistics for grand larceny crimes in the subway system are staggering.

Last week there were 23, and in the same time period last year, there were four. That's a 475% increase.

"I don't want to go back to the old days where you can't wear your jewelry on the subway system, but that's what this is, you have just an old scale type crime spike here," said former NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce.

NYC Mayor Eric Adams acknowledged his recently implemented subway outreach initiative will not lead to an overnight reduction in crime, but that does little to quell the concerns of frustrated straphangers who want results now.

"It's sickening, it's scary, and as a woman you know you are just like, you have be 10 times more alert," said straphanger Natalie Filion.

"I have my pepper spray, and I'm thinking to buy a Taser or something, like a small one, to defend yourself," straphanger Judith Orellana said.

It's not just grand larceny that saw a dramatic increase. Misdemeanor assaults, like last week's harrowing attack of a woman smothered with human feces, soared by 166%.

There have been 32 this year, compared to 12 last year.

Police arrested the suspect in that crime but a judge released him. And that, Boyce said, partially explains the subway crime surge.

"It's the same people every time," Boyce said. "We know who they are, we make arrests on them and they come through the system and they are back out. So, something has to give here."

One more statistic worth highlighting is the number of arrests which are up 64%.

And while Boyce expects that upward trend to continue, he says arresting the same people over and over again points to not just a crime problem, but a prosecution problem.

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