Homeland Security Gives SF $1 Million For More Cops On Muni

In order to avoid becoming crime victims, Muni riders should be more aware of what’s happening around them by staying off their cellphones, San Francisco city and transit officials said today.

Mayor Ed Lee joined police Chief Greg Suhr and San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency director of transportation Ed Reiskin today to launch the “Eyes Up, Phone Down” campaign, an effort to reduce theft on public transit.

“People aren’t paying attention to their surroundings,” Lee said.

The mayor said that with the help of a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, more police officers have been on Muni buses and light-rail vehicles recently, helping to reduce the number of robberies on the system from 51 in September to nine in October.

Suhr said riders can help keep those numbers down by staying off their cellphones or other electronic devices while on public transit. He noted that two-thirds of the robberies in San Francisco involve smartphones.

“Don’t make your phone readily available to be stolen,” he said.

Reiskin said Muni fare inspectors will be passing out cards to riders with tips on how to avoid being targeted by criminals. The cards feature a small, fabric cellphone-screen cleaner.

“We want our customers to stay safe and be alert,” he said.

The federal funding for the increased police patrols on Muni will last until next March, and the agency is seeking additional funds to keep the initiative going longer, Muni spokesman Paul Rose said.

More information about the campaign can be found online at www.sfmta.com/eyesup.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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