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Subway Crimes On The Rise As MTA Ridership Recovers From Pandemic Lows

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- People are returning to the New York City subway in big numbers. Nearly 3.5 million people rode trains last Thursday - the most since the pandemic started.

New statistics show a jump in subway crime, too, CBS2's Alice Gainer reported Monday. Specifically, crime rose in November compared to October.

During November, statistics show the daily robbery average underground increased from 1.3 to 2.9. The daily major felony average rose from 3.8 to 7.8.

There were 88 robberies in the system in Nov. 2021, compared to 39 in Nov. 2020.

From January-November, felony assaults were up, but robberies were actually down from last year: 466 in 2021 compared to 534 in 2020.

The total number of major felonies, including assault, rape, murder, robbery and burglary, are down. From January-November 2021, it was 1,581. For 2020, it was 1,626. Pre-pandemic, in 2019, it was 2,227.

Hate crimes in the transit system are up 79%.

Riders told CBS2 they were not surprised by last month's uptick in crime.

"I feel like in the winter a lot of people who are in dire straits come down into the subways and live down here," said Cory Grant.

"People are very distressed right now. It's a lot going on," another rider said.

"Unfortunately it doesn't shock me," said another.

"I think it's getting worse. People are just not afraid anymore and they don't see a big police presence," said another.

A member of the transportation group Passengers United called for more help during Monday morning's MTA Board meeting.

"The subway system, guys, is not safe," he said.

"We continue to work closely with NYPD to focus on the safety of our riders," said Interim NYC Transit President Craig Cipriano.

Monday morning, police were called to the 241st Street and White Plains Road station in the Bronx. They said a man was stabbed to death following and argument, and the suspect took off.

"We believe there was a dispute between the victim and another man that began on the street and escalated inside the station near the booth," said NYPD Transit Chief Kathleen O'Reilly.

On Dec. 1, a 58-year-old woman was waiting on the 174th Street station platform around 6 a.m. when a man approached, made an anti-Chinese statement and slapped her in the face. Police are still looking for the man.

The MTA said it has been asking the NYPD to add officers in more visible areas, like platforms and trains. O'Reilly said the department is working with the MTA.

"Almost additional thousand officers a day into the transit system," O'Reilly said.

The NYPD said it focuses officer deployment on stations and lines where there are higher numbers of riders and reports of crime. As of September, all 472 subway stations are equipped with security cameras.

Statistics also show arrests in the subway system are up.

"73 arrestees accounted for 402 prior arrests in the transit system alone. So we have people that committing offenses and being released," O'Reilly said.

The NYPD said they engage and refer people to mental health and homeless services. Call 311 if you see someone in need.

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