Crime underground is on the rise and transit officials are considering to ban repeat offenders from riding the subway at all. NY1's Transit reporter Tina Redwine filed the following report.
Another month brings another increase in subway crime. New York City Police Department statistics show major felonies on the subway rose nearly 40 percent in February, compared to last year.
Perps are still targeting electronic devices, but police say they are changing their preferred method of stealing.
"This particular type of criminal seeks out sleeping passengers and then uses a razor blade to cut the victims pockets and remove the property," said NYPD Transit Chief Joseph Fox.
Police say in the last month, slashing clothing on sleeping passengers jumped to 32 percent of all grand larcenies, nearly double the rate from last year. Slashing is now more common than snatching items from riders.
Law enforcement officials say new tactics have helped increase arrests by nearly 7 percent compared to last year.
"This year decoy operations resulted in 11 arrests and continue to create uncertainly because potential victims could be a NYPD officer," said Fox.
The NYPD is also using overtime to keep, on average, an extra 56 teams of officers on the system each week.
Some board members think the MTA should employ an additional tactic by slapping an order of protection on everyone who is convicted of a serious crime on the subway banning them from using the system.
"If someone goes into the department store and shoplifts and they’re arrested as part of the plea agreement, they are precluded from going into that store," said MTA Board member Allen Cappelli.
Many riders think it would make them feel safer.
"In the morning, early hours, you’re not quite awake if you haven’t had your coffee. Someone comes up, easily something can be taken. I mean, I know I’ve ridden the subway half-asleep sometimes," said a straphanger.
But some wondered how it will be enforced.
"Are you going to attach a monitoring system to all these potential perps?" said a rider.
MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota said he would discuss with the five district attorneys and the NYPD the idea of mandating that all those found guilty of a serious crime on the subway are banned from using the subway.
If the parties decide to go forward, they would decide how long an order of protection would be in place.