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Thefts on the MBTA rose last year

The number of violent crimes committed on the MBTA remained nearly the same as the previous year, but property crime, including thefts of cellphones, bicycles, and catalytic converters, rose sharply, according to statistics released by the MBTA Transit Police today.

Transit Police said there were 348 violent crimes in 2011, which include homicide, rape, aggravated assault, and robbery, compared with 349 the year before. There was one homicide and one rape in 2011, the same as the year before.

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Property crime, on the other hand, rose 26 percent to 813 crimes reported, compared with 646 the year before. The property crime increase was led by a 28 percent increase in larcenies, which rose to 771 from 602.

When various other offenses that are less common or less serious or both are added in, a total of 6,885 crimes were reported on the T in 2011, an increase of about 12 percent from 6,173 in 2010.

T officials said the theft of catalytic converters occurred at commuter rail parking lots. Thieves are stealing the devices because of the precious metals contained inside.

A press release issued by MBTA Transit Police Chief Paul MacMillan said the theft of smartphones continues to be a concern for transit authorities.

“Customers are advised to continue to be aware of their surroundings and be careful when using their smartphones,” the release said. “Bicycle thefts are up and that is attributed to the amount of customers using bikes to ride to the T.”

Meanwhile, incidents of indecent assault on the MBTA decreased to 52 incidents in 2011 from 63 in 2010, officials said, urging people to report when they are inappropriately touched on the T.

The department said it was taking a variety of steps to combat the property crime increase, including:

-- Handing out leaflets and making more frequent pulbic service announcements in subways to remind passengers to be careful when using cellphones;

-- Increasing patrols in areas where the thefts have occurred;

-- Establishing an internal task force to combat catalytic converter thefts and working with other law enforcement agencies experiencing the same upsurge;

-- Increasing patrols in parking lots where catalytic converter thefts have occurred; and

-- Establishing a task force with Cambridge, Arlington, and Somerville to increase awarness of bicycle theft.

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