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Pickpocketing Is On The Rise In The DC Metro

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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Pickpocketing on the D.C. Metro is on the rise despite a large drop in ridership due to persistent delays, breakdowns and repairs.

The rate of crime on the D.C. Metro per rider is up despite an overall lower crime trend in the transit system. A security report from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) said pickpocketing is up 33 percent, despite a 6.7 percent drop in overall crime in the system.

For every million riders using WMATA services, there are 5.4 part 1 crimes, which include aggravated assault, rape and robbery, reports WTOP.

The report also notes a 47 percent increase in crimes committed in WMATA parking garages, while theft from vehicles is up 60 percent.

Officials say thieves smash in car windows and steal everything from personal belongings to actual car parts, like airbags. The report indicates the majority of pickpocketing cases on the Metro, at stations or at bus stops involve the theft of a cellphone. Aggravated assaults are also up by 28 percent compared to 2015, with more than half of the incidents happening at D.C. stations.

Metro made 321 million passenger trips for the fiscal year, which ended June 30, marking a 6 percent decline over ridership in 2015. Metro officials previously estimated ridership would grow by 3.2 percent this fiscal year. Ridership is down a stunning 14 percent since 2014.

Declining ridership and unreliability due to SafeTrack are pushing the D.C. Metro further into a financial hole. Metro is strapped for cash and many localities appear reluctant to allocate additional funds to the transit system. The current budget shortfall at Metro is $275 million. Officials revealed Monday they estimate needing $25 billion in funding over the next 10 years.

Analysts warn that if the trend continues, the D.C. Metro will have a $1.1 billion budget shortfall by 2020.

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