The NYPD is cracking down on subway panhandlers — and sources said the initiative is taking precious manpower away from preventing iPhone thefts and shoving incidents, The Post has learned.
The department’s effort was launched shortly after a Post report that police were going easy on beggars.
Police arrested 71 panhandlers between Nov. 11 and 24, including a man who collected a paltry 43 cents from straphangers. Cops also gave out 37 panhandling summonses.
“It’s the season for giving, and apparently people are asking too frequently,” said one source.
Not everyone in the NYPD is happy about the crackdown. Some say that they want cops to focus on robbers and subway shovers over the holiday season.
“There are more important things we have to worry about, like people becoming the victim of a crime,” said a source.
“People are getting thrown onto subway tracks, having their iPhones and iPads snatched. The last thing we’re worried about is a man begging for a nickel on the holidays. It’s common sense.”
Another source said, “A panhandler pales in comparison to someone getting violently robbed.”
But an NYPD spokesman said the crackdown won’t affect patrols or resources for other areas.
“It’s a quality-of-life initiative and it’s directed toward panhandling,” said top spokesman John McCarthy.
Other sources said cops will bust panhandlers if they see them — and are still focused on arresting robbers, as well as other perps.
Peaceful begging is legal above ground, but it’s illegal on the subway, where the MTA sets its own rules and regulations.
The number of people “living” in the subway system has increased 13 percent over last year, according to the city’s Department of Homeless Services.
The Post reported in late October that panhandling and peddler arrests were only up slightly from the year before, from 395 collars to 409.
And they were down significantly from 2011 — when cops cracked down on quality-of-life violations underground in Operation Moving Target, and arrested 930 people within six months.
Police said at the time that the number was higher in 2011 because it also included arrests for people selling MetroCard swipes.
Those arrests have since been removed from the panhandler category.
Republished with permission of The New York Post