Overall, crime has declined on the Metro transit system that serves Washington, D.C. and it's surrounding suburbs.
Snatching items from transit passengers is still the most common crime on the rail and bus system, but the numbers have recently declined. In the first quarter of the year, there were 144 snatch or pickpocket crimes. In that same period in 2012 there were 239 incidents.
After intensive enforcement on the rail system (and an education campaign asking transit riders to avoid openly displaying smartphones or expensive tablets), some thieves appear to be changing their tactics.
Metro's new chief of police, Ronald Pavlik, to the board that oversees the transit agency, "Some of the tactics that we [have seen] in the rail system with criminals is now morphing over to the bus side, where the victims are usually getting on or off a bus..." The snatching thieves then run away into nearby streets or alleys, and it becomes, says Pavlik, "very challenging to try to find them."
The Metro Transit Police chief said he wishes every smart phone had the app that allows a user on the internet to locate where the phone is. Several phone thefts have been solved that way, he told the board. Metro's website is encouraging the transit system's customers to install that app on their phones.
Metro statistics show a sharp decline in motor vehicle thefts in the first quarter of this year, compared with the same period last year and the year before. In the first three months of 2013, there were only nine car theft reports on Metro property. In a similar period in 2012, there were 20. And a year before that there were 38.
Why? The chief says newer cars are harder to steal, and Metro is now patrolling certain lots and garages in an unconventional manner.
Sometimes Metro employees (like mechanics) suffer slight injuries on the job. Nowadays, those employees are assigned "light duty." They're told to patrol Metro garages and parking lots looking for suspicious behavior around the customers' cars. If they see it, they call Metro transit police. "And that's having a big success on certain parking lots where they're deployed every day," Chief Pavlik told the board.
The chief of Metro's Transit Police says recent online posting of a violent youthful fight on the Red Line is "disturbing" and his officers are meeting more frequently with school administrators, in an effort to head off future incidents.