Yesterday, my husband and I watched the film “12 Years A Slave”. We usually watch films at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), which is a short walk away, but lately we have been trying to step out of our comfort zones. New York City is a city of countless things to do and places to go and what good is living here if we don’t take advantage of this? So we jumped on the subway and headed into the city to watch the film at Union Square. It is the opening weekend of a well-reviewed film, so the movie theater was rather full and so, unable to spread out into neighboring seats, we sat with our belongings piled on our laps. Probably because the movie theater was so full, it got warm enough for me to take off my jacket and add it to my pile of stuff.
It was a very good film and, once it was over, we gathered up our belongings and left the movie theater. It was not until I was out on the street that I realized that my subway Metrocard was no longer in my jacket pocket. I checked my pocketbook to make sure that I had not absentmindedly put it in there but, no, I definitely did not have it. It appeared that my Metrocard had fallen out of the pocket, most likely, as I was gathering up my belongings. We rushed back into the theater to look for it before they started letting people in for the next screening. Armed with flashlights, we checked not only our row but also the rows behind and in front of where we had sat. No luck. No Metrocard holder and, therefore, no Metrocard. A very helpful usher got on his walkie-talkie and asked if anyone had seen the Metrocard holder. Nothing. He then asked me to leave my information and all details about where we had been sitting. He assured me that I should not give up hope. Just over the last month, he continued, they had found and returned over 60 cellphones that had been lost by moviegoers. I did indeed feel a little hopeful as I wrote down as much information as I could – it is true that the more information one has, the easier it is to solve a mystery.
Just as we were getting ready to leave the movie theater, a member of the cleaning staff rushed up and said, “Are you looking for any of these things?” He held up his hands and, among the items he was holding, there was my Metrocard holder. Relief! I thankfully took it and opened it up to discover that my Metrocard was no longer in the holder. My Metrocard had been stolen! I actually did a double take and for a second wondered how it could be that expensive cellphones could be returned yet Metrocards, which tend to cost less than a smartphone, could be stolen. I spent more time than I should have thinking about the theft of my card because it was now personal. Theft is a violation. It doesn’t matter if a person steals your lollipop or your car, it is something that you won’t want to have happen again. That’s your stuff, not theirs.
At $2.50 a ride and $112 for a monthly unlimited card, a Metrocard can turn out to be quite valuable. My card was an unlimited ride card with sixteen days left on it – that worth a good number of rides. And the Metrocard came with a a big benefit that made it more attractive to a thief than a smartphone. A lack of security features.
- Mobile phones have serial numbers that owners register with the phone seller. If their handset is stolen, this information can be used to lock the handset and render it useless to the thief.
- The mobile phone account can be quickly frozen to keep a thief from running up a massive bill once they have stolen a phone.
- Mobile phones have apps like Apple’s Find My iPhone app, which can use GPS technology to find a lost or stolen phone and even erase any data on the phone, which is very important since a lot of personal information may be stored on a smartphone.
The Metrocard does not have any such features. Unless you purchased an unlimited card using a credit or debit card, if your Metrocard is lost or stolen, that’s it. Your only recourse is to shell out money for a new card. Even though each Metrocard has a serial number, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, more commonly known as the MTA, has no facility for purchasers to register their cards anywhere. Because Metrocards are not registered in any way, there is no way to track down and suspend use of a stolen card. When I watch Law & Order, I have seen the police track down criminals using Metrocard data. So, since this is based on fact, I don’t see why we have not reached a point where subway users can register their card in order to protect themselves from loss or theft.
I am not sure what the statistics are when it comes to lost or stolen Metrocards, but I am pretty sure that I am not the only person who has been involuntarily relieved of my Metrocard. So, I am quite sure that there are a good number of people who would love to have more security options when it comes to their Metrocards. The monthly unlimited Metrocard costs over $100. It would be nice to protect those of us with slippery pockets.