Undercover sting targets bus crime

As a boy who was stabbed on his first Muni ride earlier this month recovers

from his injuries, undercover police officers are preparing to nab thugs and crooks on some of The City’s more troublesome bus lines.

Officers at the Ingleside Police Station will conduct the sting, dubbed Operation Safe Muni, on a single day next week. Capt. David Lazar isn’t revealing which day, in order to keep an element of surprise, he said. Police posing as passengers will ride the
9- and 9X-San Bruno, 14-Mission and 49-Van Ness/Mission lines.

The 9 runs from downtown to Visitacion Valley and the 9X from North Beach to San Bruno via Visitacion Valley. The 14 runs along Mission Street from The Embarcadero to Daly City and the 49 traverses The City from the Marina district to Ingleside.
“These excellent efforts are exactly what is needed to keep Muni safe,” Muni spokesman Judson True said.

Uniformed officers already ride Muni, but the undercover sting is a first, Lazar said. The operation is one of the innovations undertaken by Ingleside officers since the station was chosen earlier this year as the testing ground for departmentwide reforms. Lt. Jason Cherniss planned the sting, which focuses on assaults, robberies, thefts and fare evasion during peak hours.

Hatim Mansori, 11, was riding a 49 bus when he was stabbed Sept. 1 in an unprovoked attack. The Marina Middle School sixth-grader is recovering at home after more than a week in a hospital. The man who allegedly stabbed Hatim remains at large, but police have released a sketch of him.

“That incident and many other reports we get during our work week — as well as knowing we have problems on the 9X and 14 — made us want to try something new,” Lazar said.

Violent crime on Muni has risen from 43 reports in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2008 to 49 in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2009. Overall, crime and other security incidents on the transit system grew slightly during the same period, from 217 reports to 233, according to Muni data.

Transit agency officials could not provide crime statistics broken down by routes.

Fare evasions also rose from 26,277 during fiscal year 2008 to 39,277 in fiscal year 2009, although it’s unknown whether increased numbers of fare inspectors have simply resulted in more people being caught.

If Operation Safe Muni is a success, Ingleside officers will conduct similar stings on a regular basis, Lazar said.

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