Downtown Crossing saw the most reported robberies among all MBTA subway stops in 2010, according to recently released crime data from the transit agency.
It was the second straight year the station topped the tally for robberies.
While robberies rose across all T stations by 24 percent to 233 in 2010 from the year before, Downtown Crossing saw a slight decline in robberies, from 20 to 16. However, the station still topped Andrew, Park Street and JFK/UMass, which had 14, 12 and 11, respectively.
The station hosts stops for Red, Orange and Silver line trains along with 17 bus routes. It saw the sixth-most reported serious crimes of all MBTA stops with 26 reports, which tied with Back Bay station. South Station led in overall serious crime with 74, followed by Alewife with 42 reports.
Transit Police Chief Paul MacMillan said the station’s high volume of passengers can make Downtown Crossing a popular target for theft, but also noted that the decline in robberies there between 2009 and last year was a positive sign that targeted theft prevention awareness campaigns are having an impact.
Overall, reported serious, or "Part I," crimes on the T rose 19 percent last year to 987. Still, that number was the fourth-lowest in the past three decades. Only 2006, 2008 and 2009, the lowest total on record since the the data collecting began in 1980, saw fewer serious crimes reported.
Part I crimes are those deemed most serious, consisting of arson, assault, homicide, rape and various forms of theft. A online database, searchable by station, of that crime type can be found here. Part II crimes consist of fare evasion, simple assault, vandalism, loitering, drug and alcohol violations, disorderly conduct, trespassing and others. That less-serious crime type saw a 5 percent increase last year to 5,218 reports.
"Over the last five years, we’ve averaged 942 serious crimes per year, and we have seen a little uptick in 2010 from that number,” MacMillan said. “But when you put that in perspective to the number of passengers we have per day, which is 1.3 million, the number of incidences occurring based on the number of passengers is very low.”
Nonetheless, he said one crime is too many. “We continue to work to drive all these numbers down.”
Various forms of theft – burglaries, larcenies and robberies – rose in the past year.
Larcenies increased system-wide by 11 percent from two years ago to 581 in 2010. Burglaries were up from eight in 2009 ago to 13 last year.
Burglary is defined as breaking and entering with intent to commit a felony, often to steal something. Larceny is stealing that involves no force or violence, robbery is stealing that involves force.
After highlighting a rise in GPS thefts in the past, transit law enforcement officials say have noticed an increase in cell phone thefts as more commuters carry more expensive cellular devices. Officials have been running awareness campaigns to reduce such occurrences.
“This is a problem not only for us but many agencies,” MacMillan said of mobile phone thefts. “These are a very popular item … People have their cell phones out; it can be easily stolen; it can be grabbed from the hands when the doors open. Or they’re not paying attention because they’ve got their headphones in, and it can be easily stolen that way.”
Across all stops, assaults rose 39 percent to 124; auto thefts rose from 17 to 32. There was one homicide last year compared to none the year before and three rapes compared to two in 2009. There were no arsons reported in 2010 compared to one two years ago.
In the same order as 2009, the Red Line led its subway counterparts in total serious crime with 261 reports, followed by Orange with 202, Green with 72 and Blue with 54. Except for the Red, all lines saw crime increase, including the commuter rail, which reported the largest increase, up 65 percent to 238. Buses, transit yards and surface activity accounted for 157 serious crimes, a 19 percent climb.
The T is working on eventually rolling out an updated online interface on mbta.com that allows for a more user-friendly experience for commuters who want to research crime data station-by-station, MacMillan said.
“We want to have a mechanism that can easily allow people to find out what’s happening at their local stops,” he said.