Monday, November 8, 2004
Brooklyn- State Senator Marty Golden (R-C, Brooklyn) is calling on the New York State Assembly to follow the lead of the State Senate and take action to pass legislation to crack down on the illegal practice of fraudulently tampering with expired MetroCards, adding rides (swipes) to the expired cards, then loitering near subway turnstiles to sell the "swipes" to prospective passengers.
Legislation introduced by Senator Golden, Senate Bill 6544, passed the State Senate on May 25, 2004 and was delivered to the Assembly. The Assembly Codes Committee has failed to take action on this legislation and has stalled it’s potential to become New York State Law.
Senator Golden implored State Assembly action stating, "The case for such legislative action is evident by reports that show the practice of illegal tampering with Metro Cards is on the rise and that the Metropolitan Transit Authority loses approximately $260,000 or 500 rides annually as a result. The State Assembly’s inaction on this legislation is jeopardizing the safety and the budget of our transit system."
Senator Golden’s bill, strongly supported by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, would make loitering in a transportation facility in the business of selling swipes a Class A Misdemeanor with stiffer fines and the threat of more substantial prison sentences for repeat offenders. Under the current failing law, the sale of swipes is classified as a violation under the jurisdiction of the M.T.A. with a minor fine and prison sentence imposed.
Senator Golden stated, "The State Senate has approved this measure to help put "swipers", who deplete scarce police resources, contribute to a sense of lawlessness in our transportation system, and who cause financial loss, out of business. Criminals do not fear being caught for the potential for revenue is more appealing than the penalty. A repeat offender recently boasted, ‘I’m good until they make it a misdemeanor.’ I urge the Assembly to follow the lead of the Senate so we can evict swipers from our train stations."
Senator Marty Golden, a former New York City Police Officer, further stated, "Arrest statistics compiled by the New York City Police Department indicate that the sale of swipes is an escalating crime. As a result, the protection of our passengers and our transportation system, against platform crime and security designed to protect us from terrorism, has been sacrificed. Assembly inaction is allowing all commuters to fall victim to a more dangerous commute at the expense of these cheats."
In one transit district alone, there were nearly 600 complaints of "swiper" activity requiring police officer response in a one month period. Some reports show that there are notorious repeat offenders, some with more than 45 arrests and even multiple arrests in the same day, who reportedly earn as much as $800 a day from this illegal activity.