In the wake of the wide attention that came to a swarm or "flash mob" robbery committed by dozens of teenagers at Oakland's Coliseum Station two Saturdays ago, more information is coming to light about rising overall crime rates on the BART system, and the need for more constant patrols by BART police. We learned Friday that there has been a 22 percent uptick in crime overall in the BART system, year over year, and this past weekend the Chronicle reported specifically on where spikes in robberies have been occurring over the first three months of they year and robberies, both in stations and aboard trains, are up 45 percent so far this year.
Coliseum Station has long been known to BART officials and some riders as a hotbed for crime activity, and indeed it has seen the most robberies in the first three months of 2017, 13, followed closely by Bay Fair Station, which has seen nine, and Fruitvale Station, which has seen six.
The biggest year-over-year jump in robberies has actually been in San Francisco, though, with ten robberies in the first three months across all SF BART stations, compared to just four by this time last year. But in terms of sheer numbers, downtown Oakland stations extending out to Coliseum Station, have seen the most, including group-style robberies, and often involving the theft of cellphones.
BART Police have responded by authorizing more overtime and increasing the presence of officers, as ABC 7 reports. Acting Deputy Chief Terence McCarty explains that this is being done in part by eliminating a day off for most officers, who typically work four 10-hour shifts a week. Orders like this are typically reserved just for large protests or disasters.
Since March, McCarty tells the Chronicle that 19 individuals have been arrested on suspicion of robbery on BART, all aged between 12 and 21, and often working in groups. Those engrossed in their phones and situated near doors are the most vulnerable.
BART spokesperson Alicia Trost is still quick to tell the Examiner that crime on BART has been dropping for three years in a row, and she tells the Chronicle, "We just want to make the point that crime is low and we serve so many people without incident." There were only 1.6 robberies per million rides on BART last year, she points out, and projections suggest that may just rise to 1.7 for 2017.
In related news, there's been a recent spate of thefts of catalytic converters, ripped out from beneath cars in BART parking lots, with eight such incidents reported in the East Bay in just four days, as CBS 5 reports.
Meanwhile, one arrest has been made of one of the juveniles involved in the April 22 mob robbery, and several other warrants have been issued. In total, seven people were robbed, mostly of their phones, in that incident.