Not that it is among the most serious of offenses we often discuss, but if you are hoping to cheat the MBTA out of its fares…you mat want to save that idea for another day. Massachusetts is striking back!
As the good folks at Boston’s premiere news/talk radio station WBZ (1030 am) report, transit police officers are conducting an ongoing criminal investigation into the practice.
Well, it is, after all, a theft crime.
The results so far?
In the span of 45 minutes at the Back Bay Station, MBTA Transit Police officers bagged four alleged fare evaders.
The investigation has brought other rewards to law enforcement as well.
For example, just this past Monday, at the Chinatown Station, officers stopped a fare evader and found out she had a warrant for her arrest. Rosa Medrano, 43, was wanted in Salem. “One in 10 people that we stop for fare evasion, we’ve found in the past have had warrants,” said Transit Police Sgt. Preston Horton. Medrano was the first fare evasion/warrant arrest of the New Year.
Naturally, like all walks of law enforcement, this shiny new investigation has catchy title. For example, the fancy-named operations to catch similarly-situated disgraces of humanity like armed robbers and sexual predators (often on the trains themselves) come to mind. This one is called “Operation Fare Game”. It targets busy stations and ones with multiple ways in and out. The department even received additional financial aid for the operation. Superintendent O’Connor explains that when the fine increased from $15 to $50 dollars last summer, his enforcement increased as well.
“We began to increase the teams we use to address fare evasion. It is also part of our point of entry policing where if we believe that if we stop people who are fare evading that we’ll likely reduce the amount of disorder in our system,” he said.
That makes sense. Crack down on fare-beats and the criminal justice system should work much more efficiently again! I am embarrassed that i had not suggested it before…!
Various diabolical schemes have been used to fare-beat. For axample, as Sgt. Horton describes, after stopping someone passing through a gate in front of a plain clothed officer, “He did have a card. It had money on it..He’d pretended to tap and then piggybacked behind another person.” That man got a citation, along with another woman who walked in without paying behind her friend.
Another rider was stopped for coming in an exit, even though she had a monthly pass. “The message is we can’t be everywhere all the time, but we can be anywhere at any time,” said Supt. O’Connor. “Our officers are quite often in plain clothes and the person you see who might be someone hanging around is quite often a Transit Police officer,” he added.
“If we can stop the crime before it enters the MBTA, then we’re ahead of the game,” Sgt. Horton added. “Not all fare evaders are criminals, but most criminals fare evade.”
Attorney Sam’s Take On Shiny New Police Operations
I can hear the good folks at Altman & Altman, LLP now.
“Fare evasion? Really, Sam? A blog about fare evasion?”
My response? “Exactly!”
Don’t get me wrong.. I know that fare evasion is wrong, it is an offense that carries penalties and it costs us all money. I get it. But, then, the same is true about littering. Are the powers-that-be going to come up with “Operation Litterbug Containment” and spend all kinds of money and manpower to fight it?
Maybe I should not give them ideas.
“Sam, what is the point of all this?”
Two points. The first point is to warn all you scofflaws out there about the risk you run should you attempt this high-level criminal activity.
The second is let you, the potential rape, assault and robbery victims out there know you can now feel safer in terms of fare beaters.
One may wonder why they don’t set up an auxiliary or citizen force to combat such offenses.
“We can’t do that, Sam. How can we be sure that they would be as trustworthy and fair-minded as real officers?”
Don’t get me started.
For the original story upon which this blog was based, please go to http://boston.cbslocal.com/2013/01/08/crackdown-of-mbta-fare-evaders-nets-results/