Report: Metro crime drops by double digits

(WJLA) - According to a report released by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, overall Metro crime dropped by the double digits in the first quarter of 2014.

Officials attribute the overall 31-percent drop to a large decrease in three particular types of crimes - robberies, snatches of electronic devices like smartphones, and bicycle thefts.

The surveillance videos are enough to send shivers through any Metro commuter. They chronicle blatant brazen crimes, but Metro says that grabs like this are becoming less frequent.

"We simply better aligned our assets, really, smarter policing," said Chief Ronald Pavlik with Metro Transit Police.

Metro Transit Police report a 31-percent drop in crime in the first quarter of the year. Three areas led the drop over the first quarter of 2013, and a 55-percent reduction in robbery from 121 to 55.

Electronic device theft dropped 42-percent from 137 to 79, and bicycle theft is down by more than half 56-percent from 45 to 20.

Metro acknowledges another factor that likely plays in the sharp reduction in crime: the brutal winter. Fewer people rode Metro, and Transit Police believe that criminals hid out at home rather than riding the rails in search of victims.

Regardless of what just prompted the drop, however, passengers welcome the news:

"It's nice to know that it's a safe place to travel, a safe way to get around the city," said tourist Carol Toenjes.

Others are less concerned with crime than the occasional less-than-stellar service:

"I would be even better if they had the escalators working on a regular basis," said D.C. resident LaVon Greenwood.

Highlights from the report indicate:

• Snatches of electronic devices were reduced by 42 percent, down from 137 crimes to 79 crimes in the first quarter, as compared to the same period last year.

• Bicycle thefts were reduced by 56 percent, down from 45 crimes in the first quarter of 2013 to 20 stolen bicycles so far this year.

• A 55-percent reduction in robberies, down from 121 in the first quarter of 2013 to 55 crimes so far this year.

"The reduction is credited to increased customer awareness, prevention programs including free U-lock giveaways, online bike registration, improved intelligence sharing, and undercover investigations," officials said in a statement Thursday.

WMATA officials said the report was presented Thursday morning to the Metro Board Safety and Security Committee by Metro Transit Police Chief Ron Pavlik.