Did BART's decision to stop sending out their crime logs (a decision reversed a few weeks after it came to light) tick off local journalists to the point that now every attack and mugging on the transit agency is blessed with a headline? That's hard to quantify, though a July op-ed from SF Chronicle editor Audrey Cooper appeared to put BART on blast, saying they "initiated a campaign to discredit local media" and "accused the media of blowing news stories about the robberies out of proportion to make money."
While the latter accusation, reportedly made by BART Assistant General Manager Kerry Hamill, indicated a basic lack of understanding on 1) how the media makes money (not that we'd expect a BART staffer to know about generating profit!) and 2) what motivates reporters (if it were "making money," we, uh, wouldn't be reporters in the first place), one thing's for certain — Streisand effect, she is real, as you can see by the glut of BART news from the last few days. So, not to rain on BART's recent limerick parade, but here are several more worrisome BART news items we just can't get out of our minds.
Robberies and assaults on BART are up, felony arrests down
So reports the Chron, citing data from the first six months of 2017.
Calls seeking help from BART police shot up in the first six months of the year at all but two of 46 train stations, keeping pace with a 35 percent increase in robberies and a 27 percent jump in assaults compared with the same period in 2016, agency figures show.
But while misdemeanor arrests were up through the end of June, along with citations for offenses such as fare evasion, felony arrests dropped 23 percent year to year.
BART officials say crime within the Bay Area’s backbone transit system remains relatively low, and there hasn’t been a homicide since January 2016. But the latest numbers — released to The Chronicle in response to a public records request — underscore a recent surge in crime that has alarmed riders and prompted officials to boost patrols.
In response to the Chron, BART spokesperson Chris Filippi said “When you look at it with the context — an average of 430,000 people ride BART a day — the number of crimes that occur relative to that number is small.”
Deplorable teen maces riders on Embarcadero train
A female teen suspect accompanied by as many as ten other kids maced a couple during a robbery attempt on a Daly City-bound train at 8:48 p.m. Saturday, Bay City News reports. The train was at Embarcadero Station when the "black juvenile female, wearing a pink shirt and denim shorts" "pepper-sprayed the victim and a male companion" during a robbery attempt.
Her friends and she then fled the train, but BART police "were unable to locate the suspects in the area." As of publication time, they remain at large.
Random attack suspect nabbed
Via a press release sent at 10:40 this morning, the transit agency says they have arrested a suspect in two random attacks just hours after releasing a suspect photo to media. According to KQED, BART called a 6 a.m. press conference today to circulate photos of a suspect in two random attacks: a Thursday unprovoked assault at Bay Fair station in San Leandro and a second unprovoked attack on an Embarcadero train Saturday night.
In a press release sent this morning, BART says:
BART officers took a suspect into custody just hours after releasing to the public images captured by our train surveillance cameras. BART Police will outline details of the arrest at an 11:30 am press briefing at the Lake Merritt BART Station, 800 Madison St., Oakland.
The suspect is under arrest for the following crimes:
On August 3, 2017, at about 1931 hours, a male victim was seated on a train when a male suspect (Black male, late 30s, 6', muscular, grey shirt, tan shorts, black shoes) hit him in the head with an unknown metal object. The suspect also punched and kicked the victim before fleeing the train and running out of the station. According to the victim and witnesses, the attack was unprovoked. The suspect was not located. The victim was treated for a laceration to his head and transported to the hospital via ambulance with non-life threatening injuries.
On August 5, 2017, at approximately 1930 hours, the same suspect was on a San Francisco Bound train approaching Embarcadero Station. The suspect approached a man on the train and struck the man two times in the face with a closed fist. The victim does not know the suspect. The suspect fled the scene. The victim received medical treatment at the scene for non-life threatening injuries.
All 669 of BART's existing fleet have four working surveillance cameras. The 775 Fleet of the Future train cars will have six cameras each.
Sunday robbery suspect was toting crack
CBS 5 reports that a man who allegedly tried to steal a fellow BART rider's suitcase while on the Lafayette Station platform was carrying "rock cocaine and a crack pipe."
It was 10 a.m. Sunday when the suspect "attempted to take a suitcase from a BART passenger and then assaulted him." Other passengers intervened in an attempt to stop the robbery and attack. Eventually, BART police arrived and the suspect was arrested.
Man shaves, makes oatmeal during BART ride
It can't all be law and order, kids: during a Friday commute to his job in SF, tech marketing guy Chris Watters tweeted that he watched a man make himself a bowl of oatmeal.
well now this is a first pic.twitter.com/I4E2JnD4GT— Chris Watters (@CTWatters) August 4, 2017
Speaking with ABC 7, Watters says "It's watery, so once the train gets going you can see it's sloshing around. He's just sitting there like, 'Oh yeah, this is cool.'"
The man then pulled out a cordless razor and started shaving.
"I'm like this is some of the craziest behavior I've ever seen on BART," Watters tells ABC 7, as he has apparently never seen a random attack on BART, which I myself would call "crazier" than some personal grooming but I'm in the media so clearly suspect, BART's Hamill might say.
"He one-ups it and takes out his razor and goes ahead. It's like taking care of his business," Watters says. The shaver "Didn't seem to position his bowl of watery oatmeal to catch his trimmings. He was asleep when I disembarked." Watters says.
In response, BART penned a poem shaming the cereal consumer/shaver:
Shaving on BART is disgusting— SFBART (@SFBART) August 4, 2017
Your social skills beg for adjusting
As food makes a mess
& causes distress
The people around you are judging https://t.co/3JV7zpp6Y5
As of publication time, BART's twitter account has kept mum on the random assault suspect, the Lafayette robbery suspect, the pepper-spraying teen mugger, or the Chron's report on BART's current crime stats. Perhaps if those criminals attempt to groom themselves or eat, they too will commit an offense that rises to a level deserving of BART's official Twitter condemnation.