With SEPTA strike robberies, theft higher than usual

One week after SEPTA’s 219 police officers went on strike, there are mixed reports about the effect it has had on crime.

Members of the Fraternal Order of Transit Police hit the picket line March 21 after nearly a year without a contract. An unofficial report provided by the union shows 13 thefts, six robberies and one aggravated assaulted on the Broad Street Subway and Market-Frankford Elevated line between March 21 and 23. That’s compared to 36 thefts, six robberies and no aggravated assaults SEPTA reported for the month of December.

“I suspect that that’s in part because no cops are there and there’s nobody else watching them,” said Anthony Ingargiola, a spokesman for the union. “Police are not underground.”

Philadelphia police are patrolling stations and have an increased presence between 2 and 6 p.m., according to SEPTA. The authority also has about 45 nonunion police personnel and has contracted with 40 private security guards.

SEPTA spokeswoman Jerri Williams could not provide crime figures for the three-day period, but said that nothing out of the ordinary has occurred.

“We have nothing out of the ordinary as far as crime on our system during the past week,” she said.

Williams also said SEPTA will be prepared for the Bruce Springsteen concerts at the Wells Fargo Center tonight and tomorrow.

“Normally, for a Bruce Springsteen concert that has a more mature crowd we would have approximately four to five officers down there and we plan to have a similar presence. If it needs to be augmented, we can do that as well with Philadelphia police.”

SEPTA has spent an estimated $50,000 on police overtime and $78,000 for the private security for the week, Williams said.

Both sides meet Wednesday face-to-face

The two sides are scheduled to meet today for their first face-to-face meeting since a brief session with Congressman Bob Brady last Wednesday, a source said.

At issue is still the 50 cent wage increase officers are seeking for certification pay. They claim SEPTA has only offered 15 cents an hour, despite the union making other concessions.

SEPTA said its offer is comparable to the contract for its largest labor group, Transport Workers Union Local 234, which represents city transit operators.

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