A group of people took control of two subway cars stored at a train yard in Queens, driving them a “short distance” before fleeing on foot, the NYPD said Thursday.
Police said the group entered the train operator compartments of two “lead cars” that control trains on Dec. 30 around 4:45 p.m. The trains were stored in a yard near the Forest Hills-71st Avenue subway station.
Police didn’t say how many people were among the group of alleged intruders. But the incident appears to have been posted to social media, capturing the group laughing giddily as a train pulls up to another car.
MTA President Richard Davey said at a press conference Thursday the incident presented no danger to the public, because a signal system would have prevented the train car from leaving the yard and entering the main line where trains carry passengers.
“It’s yet another incident where things are slowing down the trains and hardworking New Yorkers can’t get around because I’ve got people vandalizing our trains, whether they’re smashing windows, jumping turnstiles, or in this case trying to move trains,” Davey said. “It’s not funny, it delayed our people from getting their job done.”
Davey also said that when tower operators saw the incident happening they immediately contacted police.
According to the MTA, there has been a recent uptick in people selling keys online for accessing subway cars. Every subway car will be equipped with surveillance cameras by 2025, the authority has said.
But Tramell Thompson, an MTA conductor and outspoken critic of the MTA, said the agency has failed to address subway car break-ins.
He said the vandals — who have described themselves as “conquestors” — use a common tactic: They first pull emergency brakes at the rear of train cars, prompting conductors to investigate, which creates an opportunity for stealing tools and keys and hijacking other subway cars. Thompson claimed such break-ins occurred on five different occasions in November alone.
He added the incidents are “going to lead to someone getting killed.”
In 2022, Gov. Kathy Hochul signed into law a bill that made attacking MTA workers second-degree assault, which carries up to seven years in prison.
TWU Local 100, the union representing MTA workers, did not immediately respond to comment on the incident.