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Rail News: Security

BART police combat cellphone theft, opioid overdoses


Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) police this week began an anti-theft outreach campaign to help riders keep cellphones and other electronics safe. 

From Jan. 1 through April, 402 electronic item thefts within the BART system were reported. In April alone, 105 items were stolen, according to a BART press release. 

To combat this, BART police detectives will hand out information cards to riders on BART trains, as well as share surveillance video of recent cellphone thefts to show how quickly someone can steal a phone and exit a train. 

“The system creates an environment that’s somewhat unique in the [San Francisco] Bay Area,” said BART Interim Police Chief Ed Alvarez. “Thieves will board a train and wait until the moment it arrives at a station and the doors open to snatch a phone and make a quick escape.”

Meanwhile, BART police officers have been trained in how to administer Narcan, an opioid antidote generically known as naloxone. 

BART has issued a policy for when and how the opioid antidote is to be used to revive someone who has overdosed. By May 31, it’s expected all BART officers will carry Narcan, the drug's brand name, according to a BART press release.

"We have been seeing the impact of the opioid epidemic for some time now," said Armando Sandoval, BART's community outreach liaison and crisis intervention team coordinator. 

Sandoval noted the dramatic increase nationwide in the availability of dangerous synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, which is often used as an adulterant in heroin and other street drugs. 

“It’s a public health concern,” Sandoval said. “We’re dealing with the safety of  those who struggle with addiction, the public, first responders, our officers, BART employees and our community partners. We have a choice either to be proactive by getting out in front of it or we can choose to get out of the way. We choose to be proactive.”