Sharp increase in the number of sex crimes reported on BART

Reported sex crimes are up on BART and the police have come in for criticism for their response.

This year has seen a dramatic increase in the number of sex crimes that have been reported on BART property. According to The Mercury News, both rapes and sexual assaults are up significantly in 2017, which comes on top of what had already been a steep increase in such offenses in 2016. Furthermore, overall violent crimes are also up on the system, with an especially dramatic rise in the number of reported robberies. Police say that while there is no reason to be alarmed by the increase, they have come in for criticism for controversially having temporarily ended daily updates about sex crimes on BART.

Violent crimes on the rise

Violent sex crimes have been on the rise at BART in recent years. During the first six months of 2017, for example, seven rapes were reported as having had occurred on BART property. BART police figures show that last year there were four rapes reported for the entire year. In 2015 there were three and in 2014 there were just two reported rapes.

Furthermore, reported sexual assaults on BART are also up dramatically, with 28 having been reported during the first half of 2017, which is the same number as were reported for all of 2016. In 2015, only 16 sexual assaults had been reported on the system for the entire year.

Sex crimes are not the only offences that are seeing an increase, however. During the first five months of this year there has been a 41 percent increase in violent crimes, which includes a 49 percent increase in burglaries. Property crimes on BART are also up by 14 percent.

What's behind the increase?

Police have offered few explanations for what may be behind the increase, although they urge caution when interpreting the figures. An increase in reported sex crimes, for example, may be less of an indication that sex crimes are actually increasing and more that they are less likely to go unreported today than in the past. BART police, however, did come in for some criticism for temporarily suspending daily reporting of felony offences on its property, although that reporting has since been reinstated.

As CBS San Francisco reports, the law enforcement agency is facing a serious staffing shortage, with only 136 police officers for a total 176 positions. The fact that two more BART stations will be opening in 2018 will only further thin out the BART police's resources.

Criminal defense help

While all criminal charges are serious, those who are facing sex crime allegations face a unique set of challenges. An accusation alone, even if it has been unproven in court, is often enough to ruin a person's reputation. Furthermore, a conviction could result in sex offender registration, which could make finding a job or a place to live exceedingly difficult even after one's sentence has been served. For these reasons and more, anybody who has been accused of a sex crime needs to talk to a criminal defense attorney immediately. An experienced attorney can help clients uphold their rights, defend their reputations, and fight to minimize the damage caused by either an accusation or a conviction.