Forest Hills bucks declining T crime trend

February 8, 2008
By

DAVID TABER

In one of the few blips in an otherwise downward crime trend on MBTA property, Transit Police recently reported an almost threefold increase in larcenies at Forest Hills Station between 2006 and 2007.

The mini-surge in theft—33 incidents were reported, up from 12 in 2006—was focused mostly on bicycles, cell phones and iPod music players, said Lieutenant Commander Michael Shea, who heads the Transit Police’s Transportation Service Area Four (TPSA-4), including Forest Hills.

“We are looking at moving the bicycle rack somewhere more visible and less isolated,” Shea said.

Noting that theft was down in the last quarter of 2007, with only two bikes reported stolen and one report of pickpocketing, Shea claimed that working with area high schools to stagger their dismissal times had helped improve the situation.

Students at English High School are now starting later and getting out at 3:30 p.m. instead of 2 p.m. when other schools are getting out, Shea said.

In light of the increase, as well as a recent shooting at the station, there are plans to increase police visibility at Forest Hills, he said.

“We will direct more patrols and cars to swing through there,” Shea said.

Theft at Forest Hills is almost solely responsible for an increase in
2007 larceny statistics throughout the Orange Line, according to a report released by the MBTA earlier this month. In 2006 there were 79 reported larcenies and in 2007 there were 103. That is an increase of 23, with 21 occurring at the Orange Line terminus.

System-wide, there were 120 reported larcenies in 2007, 21 fewer than 2006. Reported robberies on the MBTA were up from 40 in 2006 to 57 in 2007, otherwise there was a drop in the volume of serious crimes across the system.

Larceny includes pickpocketing, shoplifting and theft from cars. It is distinguished from robbery—theft from a person by use of a weapon or physical intimidation. Both are considered—along with things like arson, assault and homicide—Part 1, or serious, crimes, in the terminology of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), which compiles nationwide crime statistics. Most local law enforcement agencies in the US contribute crime stats to the FBI and use its crime categorization system.

Part 2 crimes include crimes like fraud, vandalism and loitering.

Overall, crime fell by 10 percent on the MBTA in 2007 and Part 1 crime fell by 18.5 percent, reaching its lowest level in the last decade.

As with all crime statistics, it is likely the actual crime rate over the two years was higher than what was reported to law enforcement.