The number of subway crimes sharply increased last year, led by sexual crimes and thefts, despite the South Korean government’s efforts to prevent them, police data showed Tuesday.
According to the Gyeonggi Provincial Police Agency, a total of 412 crimes occurred in the Gyeonggi Province on the subway last year, which is nearly double the number in 2012.
Sex crimes accounted for the most with 147 cases, followed by 105 thefts. Other crimes included physical violence with 56 cases and taking lost properties.
In terms of seasons, the warmer the weather, the more crimes took place. The number of crimes reached the highest in summer with 121 cases while 89 offenses occurred in winter. Around 100 crimes happened in spring and fall.
The crime hike was partially affected by the rise of passengers along with a number of new stations in Gyeonggi Province, officials said. The number of daily passengers increased from 2.5 million to 3 million while about 50 new stations opened in two years in the province.
Secret filming and sexual assault were the most common sex crimes, a police official said.
“More women tend to wear short skirts in summer. Most offenders target rush hour when the train is packed,” a Gyeonggi Provincial Police Agency official told The Korea Herald.
The situation in the capital is similar. As of October last year, a total of 885 cases of sexual harassment took place on either trains or at subway stations. Secret photographing or filming accounted for more than half of the sexual crimes. The second most common crime in Seoul was theft, reaching 245 cases.
“While the crime number did increase, its rise is also affected by the tightened crackdown. We have enhanced the crackdown since last year, exposing more crimes,” a Seoul Subway Police official said.
“Many people do not recognize that secret filming is a crime. More public education should be carried out to teach them that it is a serious crime,” said Lee Soo-jung, a forensic psychology professor at Kyonggi University.
“They need to feel a sense of guilt for doing so.”
Meanwhile, Gyeonggi Province and Seoul City have been putting efforts into preventing subway crimes. Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency has been running a special subway unit since 2005. Currently, some 110 officers are dispatched to 19 major transfer spots to patrol the stations and conduct ambush duty. A total of 139 sheriffs hired by subway corporations assist them.
Gyeonggi Provincial Police Agency also decided to tighten its crackdown during rush hours, dispatching more patrol officers. Currently only about 20 officers are responsible for patrolling and investigations in the subway with the support of station employees and the railroad service’s special officers.
Both agencies of Seoul and Gyeonggi Province also conduct a joint drill every month.
By Lee Hyun-jeong (firstname.lastname@example.org)