As in the robberies and beatings were not bad enough, BART rapes and sexual assaults are on the rise as well. What can the average passenger expect with the use the Bay Area Rapid Transportation system? Let’s find out.
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Violent sex crimes are on the rise at BART, with a near doubling of rapes reported just in the first six months of this year, compared to all of last year, the agency reported.
There were seven rapes reported on BART property from January through the end of June, compared to four in 2016, three in 2015 and two in 2014, according to BART police. At the same time, there has been a notable increase in the number of reported sexual assaults, with 28 in the first six months of the year. That’s the same number of sexual assaults reported during all of 2016, which was already up 75 percent from 2015, when only 16 sexual assault cases were reported.
The bump coincides with a 41 percent increase in violent crimes, including a 49 percent increase in robberies, for the first five months of the year compared with the same time period last year. At the same time, property crimes are also up 14 percent.
BART’s new police chief, Carlos Rojas, called the increase in sexual violence “a concern,” but cautioned against drawing any conclusions from the numbers alone.
“You have to keep it within context,” Rojas said. “Really, what you start looking at is, ‘Is there a certain individual that’s going around sexually assaulting people, and do we have a serial rapist, or is there a certain activity or environment that is contributing to somebody being placed in a vulnerable position?'”
That was not the case in the seven reports of rape so far this year, he said.
While much of the public focus in recent months has been on robberies involving groups of teenagers, the agency has stayed relatively mum about the rise in far more serious crimes. The agency released limited information to the public about the rapes and sexual batteries when they occurred, which Rojas said was probably appropriate at the time. He was officially sworn in as the chief on May 25.
BART also declined a request by this newspaper to provide copies of the rape reports prepared by investigating officers, but Rojas described each case in a phone interview. The victims were both male and female, some of whom knew the assailant, and others who did not, he said. Some of the crimes occurred on BART train cars, while others took place in parking lots or station stairwells. Officers made arrests in all but two cases.
New numbers show violent sex crimes are on the rise on BART property.
The report comes as BART plans to meet Tuesday to talk about police staffing at its stations.
BART is really seeing a jump in sex crimes, with the most recent one happening in Berkeley in May after a man exposed himself to a woman.
Riders ABC7 News spoke with said they are very surprised to hear about this.
According to our media partner the San Jose Mercury News, seven rapes have been reported this year on BART property, which is nearly double compared to last year.
Riders told ABC7 News sex crimes aren’t something they think about happening on BART. “Wow, that’s really, really crazy. I never felt that unsafe, but I do ride at times that are probably not as busy as early in the morning. That’s really surprising,” BART rider Justina Breen said.
A man named Rusty Stapp will be attending a meeting that will be held on Tuesday. Officials said he was robbed on a train by a large violent mob of people. He is suing BART and wants the agency to be more transparent with its customers.
“Crime is getting worse by the day. The statistics report it – not just assaults and robberies, but sexual assaults, and things that are even more tragic. That shouldn’t have to happen. I’m a big proponent of public transportation. I want to use it whenever I can, but right now that’s changed,” Stapp said.
The meeting will be held Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. and will focus on police staffing and crime statistics.
“Aggravated assaults are actually down by a couple, so the numbers are smaller when you look at it as a whole than you would see in a city. But, nevertheless you want to make it as safe as possible for all the riders,” BART Police Chief Carlos Rojas said.