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Crime down at Montgomery County Metro stations

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Local,Maryland,Transportation,Crime,Kate Jacobson,Montgomery County

Crime at Montgomery County's Metro stops has fallen to 275 incidents from 354 last year, but officials are concerned with the large number of thefts of riders' smart phones and other electronics.

Jeff Delinksi, deputy chief of the Metro Transit Police, told the County Council's Public Safety and Transportation, Energy and Environment committees on Thursday that Montgomery County Metro stops are some of the safest in the system, with overall crime dropping through June from a year ago.

However, robberies have climbed on the county's Red Line stations from 65 in 2012 to 93 in 2013.

Of particular concern is theft of iPhones and other electronics, which are being snatched out of riders' hands and is the top crime at Metro. And though the thefts declined from 180 in 2012 to 101 so far this year, Delinski said they remain a problem both on Metrorail and Metrobus.

"There are people in the system on a regular basis looking for opportunities," he said.

When Metro police see spikes in pickpocket and snatching crimes, they increase the amount of plain-clothes undercover officers who ride on buses and trains, Delinski said.

According to Metro Transit Police calls, Grosvenor had the highest calls for crime by Metro police with 34 incidents last year. The Wheaton station had the most crime based on Montgomery County police calls to Metro stations in the past year, with police responding to 29 crimes. The second-highest amount of calls came from Shady Grove at 20, the county's most used stop with 13,870 average weekday boardings. Forest Glen and Medical Center -- which have some of the lowest riderships -- had no calls for service from county police.

Councilman Roger Berliner, D-Bethesda, said he was concerned with the high number of pickpockets and snatchers, especially since so many people use iPhones and other electronics while riding the rail system.

Delinski said Metro has done a lot of outreach to make riders more aware of their surroundings and how they're carrying their electronics. He said riders often don't even know someone has taken their phone if it's in their back pocket or in a backpack.

kjacobson@washingtonexaminer.com

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