By Christina Carrega
With the L train shutdown fast approaching and the No. 7 line set to absorb tens of thousands of additional riders, criminal activity remains prevalent aboard Queens’ most iconic subway line.
Since September, Queens commuters have reported a rash of encounters with alleged gropers, robbers and indecent exposure, according to public notifications — and it could get worse, Community Board 2 member Jeremy Rosenberg told the Eagle.
Rosenberg, an attorney, said severe overcrowding on the No. 7 train could cause more crimes against Queens commuters.
“This is another reason why overcrowding is so dangerous,” Rosenberg said. “It’s giving wiggle room for bad actors to do bad things.”
Rosenberg said he has not witnessed groping, but he said he has noticed more men “aggressively flirting” with women on the train.
Despite MTA announcements reminding riders that “a crowded subway is no excuse for unlawful sexual misconduct,” various women and girls have reported abusive sexual contact by commuting creeps in recent weeks.
Over the weekend, police released a photograph that a 15-year-old girl took of a man who allegedly “touched her private areas” onboard a Flushing-bound No. 7 train near the Woodside-61st Street station.
The Dec. 12 attack prompted the young girl to instinctively use her cellphone to snap a clear photo of the man — who is described as being Hispanic, in his 30s, measuring 5 feet, 7 inches tall and weighing 180 pounds — before exiting the train eight stops later at the Vernon Avenue-Jackson Avenue station, police said.
Four days earlier, a 20-year-old woman was exiting the Roosevelt Avenue station when another straphanger — described as a African-American man, about 25 to 35 years old, measuring 5 feet, 11 inches and weighing 155 pounds — grabbed her buttocks and walked away, police said.
This month’s No. 7 train sex crimes don’t end there.
On Dec. 3, a 27-year-old woman was heading toward Manhattan on a No. 7 train where a man exposed his private parts in front of her. The man is described as a Hispanic man with light complexion, brown eyes and short black hair, 30 to 35 years old, measuring 5 feet, 3 inches and weighing 150 pounds, police said.
In November, Mary Lane, the founder of NewYorkCliche.com wrote about her experience getting groped on a crowded No. 7 train.
“I didn’t know what to do and I’m not proud of how I reacted. But it’s what happens when we’re caught off guard, when we’re thrust into Survival Mode by some piece of shit. I got off the subway 2 minutes later and felt gross the rest of the morning. It could have been a lot worse,” Lane wrote.
Pickpockets, aggressive robberies and violent assaults are also occurring along the No.7 line throughout Queens and Manhattan.
On Nov. 26, during a heated argument, a 40-year-old man was punched in the face and head by another straphanger who fled the train at the 90th Street station, police said.
A 71-year-old woman realized that her wallet was missing on Nov. 23 when she arrived at the 40th Street station in Sunnyside. An hour after reporting her wallet stolen, the alleged robber — described as a light-skinned male, with a beard — went on a $284 shopping spree at Zara and Uniqlo, police said.
On Oct. 29, a 38-year-old man was robbed at gunpoint and the two suspects — a Hispanic man and woman in their 30s — made off with his wallet and cellphone before pushing the victim off the train at the 40th Street station.
Four teenage girls are wanted for swiping an iPhone from a 21-year-old woman’s bag on Nov. 7 and beating up the victim on the mezzanine of the 42nd Street-Times Square station.
On Sept. 23, as the No. 7 train approached the Main Street station, two men got into an argument, leading one to brandish a knife and threaten the 23-year-old victim, police said.
While not all alleged crimes are reported to MTA employees or the NYPD, some straphangers are taking to social media to report possible crime.
On Monday, commuter Isaac L. Gealer alerted the MTA via Twitter that an advertisement featuring a photo of Internet entrepreneur and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian was defaced with swastikas on a Manhattan-bound No. 7 train.
“With subway performance down the drain, that just means increased time spent in the cars. I'd rather not have to stare at hate symbols during my already uncomfortable commute,” Gealer told the Eagle.
An employee behind the @NYCTSubway Twitter account responded to Gealer’s notification.
“Our teams take reports like these extremely seriously. We typically isolate the car and then clean the car when it reaches its terminal,” the @NYCTSubway account wrote. “If we're unable to clean it, we'll discharge the train and send it to a subway yard for cleaning.”