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Violent crime on MBTA dropped 11% in ’12

Violent crimes on Massachusetts’ transit system ­declined more than 11 percent in 2012, a decrease the MBTA attributes to stepped-up patrols and public-safety campaigns that have helped keep riders safe.

The new numbers released Tuesday by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority show that violent crimes dropped from 1,159 in 2011 to 1,029 incidents last year. There were no homicides, two rapes, and 12 burglaries reported on the MBTA in 2012, the new ­data show. The sole homicide in 2011 includes was that of a 19-year-old man who was fatally shot at the Savin Hill station on the Red Line.

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The MBTA’s system of 2,500 buses, trolleys, and trains transports 1.3 million riders each day. MBTA officials said the number of crimes among so many riders is low and signals that its law enforcement efforts have been successful.

“What the public should take away from this is that, relatively speaking, crime on the MBTA is low, and we have done work over the past year to make it even lower,” MBTA Transit Police Chief Paul MacMillan said in an interview by phone Tuesday.

MacMillan credits the T’s high-visibility patrols on the subway system, its enhanced use of video cameras to prosecute criminals, and its “See Something, Say Something” campaign, which encourages passengers to report a crime quickly on their smart phones or by calling 911.

Advocates from the T Riders Union said that while MBTA figures show a decline in ­reported crime, they do not capture whether riders actually feel safe.

“Do people feel safe on the T? You can’t capture it statistically,’’ said Stuart Spina, a member of the T Riders Union.

“People will still have that uneasiness about riding the T, particularly around the evening when there are few buses or if they are on a platform when they are waiting by themselves.”

According to the T figures, the number of robberies and larcenies on the MBTA saw the sharpest declines, with robberies dropping from 222 to 174 from the previous year.

The number of reported larcenies decreased from 770 to 673 during the same time period, although the T has not been able to tamp down bicycle thefts, which rose to 221 last year, compared with 199 ­reported in 2011, data show.

According to the T, there was one rape in 2011 and two last year. In both cases, the victim knew the offender, MacMillan added. “They were not random acts.”

While violent crime is down on the T in many areas, the Transit Police chief said his depart­ment is dogged by the high number of aggravated ­assaults, which rose from 124 in 2011 to 151 last year, the MBTA figures — available on the T’s website at www. ­ — show.

MacMillan said that aggravated assaults include seemingly minor interactions between passengers that escalate.

Those can include someone stepping on another’s shoes or tempers flaring between passengers crammed together.

Meghan Irons can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @meghanirons.
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