Homicides and electronics thefts up on Metro

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Local,Transportation,Crime,Liz Essley,Metro

Metro saw a 22 percent increase in the number of pockets picked and electronic devices snatched in 2012, as well as more homicides than the past four years combined, according to a report released by the transit agency.

The report shows that overall, serious crimes -- which include assault, arson, car theft, rape and homicide, among others -- dropped 3.3 percent from 2011 to 2012. But thefts of smartphones and other devices were up significantly, as were homicides.

Thefts of phones and other electronics rose from 520 to 671, which includes 149 thefts that resulted from the work of undercover police who posed as easy targets and then immediately arrested the thieves. But the rate still amounted to one to two cellphones stolen per day on the Metro system, despite the transit agency's efforts to warn riders about potential thefts.

Metro also recorded five homicides in 2012, according to the report -- more victims than in the past four years combined, and one more than Metro previously reported.

Most dangerous Metro stations in 2012*
1. Anacostia 119 cases
2. College Park 67 cases
3. L'Enfant Plaza 59 cases
4. Gallery Place-Chinatown 58 cases
5. West Hyattsville 53 cases
6. New Carrollton 52 cases
7. Rhode Island Avenue-Brentwood 52 cases
8. Largo Town Center 50 cases
9. Metro Center 48 cases
10. Minnesota Avenue 48 cases
* Based on number of "part 1" crimes, the most serious types of cases: assault, arson, burglary, homicide, larceny, auto theft, attempted auto theft, rape and robbery.

The transit agency averages about one homicide a year, but last year it had three on its buses, one in the Woodley Park Metro station and one killing by a Metro Transit Police officer.

The five slayings come in a year when many other jurisdictions are reporting low crime rates, and the District of Columbia reported its lowest homicide rate for 2012 since the 1960s.

Crime also climbed on Metrobuses, with 11 more assaults and five more robberies than in 2011. Those additional crimes meant an average of 11 serious crimes per month on Metrobuses compared with seven in 2011, according to a previous report given to Metro's board in January.

But Monday's report said other crimes on the Metro system dropped, with cases at Metro's parking lots and garages hitting a 10-year low. Stolen cars were down 17 percent, to 69, and thefts from cars dropped down 16 percent, to 288. Metro attributed part of the drop to partnering with local police to patrol its parking lots.

Monday's report also included rankings of stations with the most serious crimes.

Metro's Anacostia station had more crime than any other rail stop in 2012, with 119 recorded serious crimes and 40 arrests, according to a new report out Monday from Metro.

Anacostia was No. 2 in last year's report, when Deanwood topped the list. It was followed this year by College Park, L'Enfant Plaza and Gallery Place-Chinatown.

Crime on Metrorail was underscored on Monday when a man stabbed a woman a block from the Gallery Place station and then hopped on a Green Line train to escape.

As has been true since 2010, all of Metro's top 10 stations for crime were in D.C. or Maryland's Prince George's County. D.C. had six in the top 10; Prince George's County had the other four.

Virginia's and Montgomery County's stations were relatively safe. The most crime-prone station in Montgomery was Grosvenor-Strathmore, with 34 serious incidents. In Northern Virginia, Franconia-Springfield was the scene of 31 serious crimes.

lessley@washingtonexaminer.com

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Liz Essley

Staff Writer - Transportation
The Washington Examiner