15,700 people arrested so far this year for MTA fare evasion; 11% boost from last year

September 27th 2010

A police crackdown on fare evasion has netted 15,700 arrests so far this year – an 11% increase over last year.

Undercover cops and uniformed officers have been targeting stations where vandalism to MetroCard vending machines is most frequent, NYPD Transit Bureau Chief Raymond Diaz said.

So-called swipers try to attract customers by jamming vending machines, often in unstaffed areas of a station.

They then offer discounted entrance into the system.

Some riders encountering vandalized machines jump the turnstile rather than walk to another part of the station to buy a MetroCard from a token booth clerk, Diaz said.

The MTA this summer laid off about 450 token booth clerks, but Diaz refused to say whether the staff cuts had any impact on the frequency of fare evasion.

Police arrest a fare cheat, rather than issue a ticket, if the alleged offender has been caught doing it at least five prior times – or has a criminal record.

Diaz said 7,000 farebeaters were wanted on arrest warrants while about 700 were being sought for questioning by police.

The number of tickets issued for fare evasion has remained flat at about 50,000 this year, Diaz said.

There were 118 grand larcenies in the subway this year, up from 103 during the same period in 2009. Cell phones and iPods were the most sought-after items, Diaz said.

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