Muni smart­phone thefts plunge 77 percent

Fewer crimes are happening on Muni vehicles since the San Francisco Police Department started deploying more officers on San Francisco’s transit system last year.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency reports that overall crime dropped by 30 percent and smartphone thefts declined by 77 percent since May 2013.

Smartphone thefts reported by Muni riders decreased from 109 in May 2013 to 25 in March of this year, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

SFBay reported last November that the transit agency received a $1 million federal grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that helped fund the additional police presence on Muni’s buses, trains and cable cars.

The transit also started its “Eyes Up, Phone Down” campaign last August to educate Muni riders to put away their smartphones and instead pay attention to their surroundings.

Transit fare inspectors talked with Muni riders on safety tips and passed out cards on how to protect their smartphone. The transit agency said a second campaign started last month.

Police Chief Greg Suhr said in a statement that the additional uniformed police officers on Muni is a visual deterrent for criminal activity. He said riders should still remain vigilant of their surroundings:

“We can be even more successful if riders would be more aware of their surroundings when using electronic devices. Maybe read a book while on Muni and wait to use your electronic device(s). We have no issues and/or concerns with book theft on Muni.”

Another tool that could help the decline of smartphone thefts is for phones to have a kill switch.

Legislation introduced by state Sen. Mark Leno — requiring all new devices to have the anti-theft technology — was passed by the Senate last week. It now heads to the Assembly for approval.