Crime in and around San Francisco's BART stations is on the rise, a possible side effect of the transit agency's record ridership and an overall trend in the state.
Most of BART's stations — and most of its crime — are in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. But there's been a significant spike in both violent crimes such as assaults and property thefts on BART in San Francisco, according to the California Department of Justice's 2012 crime statistics, published last week.
Violent crime has nearly doubled over the past five years. There were 76 aggravated assaults in the past two years, more than over the preceding 10 years combined.
There were 62 instances of assaults or other violent crimes on BART in San Francisco last year, and 363 reported thefts among other property crimes.
As smartphones and tablets become ubiquitous, thefts of mobile devices on transit vehicles has become an increasing problem for BART as well as Muni and other transit agencies.
Bicycles, however, also increasingly are popular targets for thieves. A decade ago, there were 11 bicycle thefts reported on BART or at stations; in 2012, there were 123 instances of stolen bikes, according to the statistics.
Crime across California is on an upward trend, noted BART spokeswoman Alica Trost. And with BART's record ridership — with a daily average of 392,000 boardings, a figure projected to exceed 400,000 daily rides in the coming year — there are more opportunities for crimes.
The agency has taken extra security measures, including giving its officers mobile video recorders and issuing stay-away orders and bans to repeat offenders of agency rules. Some 130 people have been served stay-away orders, BART Police Chief Kenton Rainey said in April.
The additional steps, as well as a visible police presence, appear to have soothed any passenger fears.
Approached on the Montgomery Station platform Wednesday as she waited for a train home to the East Bay, Oakland resident Kina Chadwick says she considers her daily — and weekend — rides on BART safe.
"I'm definitely aware of my surroundings," she said, noting that she stows her iPhone out of sight in her bag. And as for her bike? "I carry two U-locks with me everywhere."