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Infamous New York transit thief caught again

(Reuters circulated the following article on June 14.)

NEW YORK -- A New York man notorious for posing as a subway train driver was caught again for stealing transit equipment, despite the city's tight anti-terrorism security, the city transportation authority said Monday.

Darius McCollum, 39, who first came to the attention of authorities in 1981 at age 15 when he commandeered a subway train, was arrested Friday only two months after his release from prison for another transit-related crime.

"He had equipment he should not have been in possession of," said Tom Kelly, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. "We are investigating how and when he got possession of the equipment."

Kelly declined to specify what McCollum had, but he emphasized that his arrest in the Long Island Rail Road train yards was not terrorism-related. Police arrested him after receiving a call about a man behaving suspiciously.

"He's not a terrorist, he's a thrill seeker," Kelly said.

The transit agency, which increased its policing and surveillance equipment after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, plans to spend a further $100 million to boost security. Transport officials all over the world are on heightened alert following the March 11 Madrid train bombings.

McCollum has been arrested 20 times. His story is so well known in New York that a play, "Boy Steals Train" was produced and performed last year about his life.

McCollum was charged with grand larceny, criminal impersonation, possession of stolen property and trespassing, officials said. He was held in lieu of $250,000 bail.

Monday, June 14, 2004

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