NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Arrests for panhandlers and peddling have tripled in the subway system since Police Commissioner Bill Bratton took over in January.

According to police transit statistics, there were 274 arrests between Jan. and March 2. During the same period last year, 90 panhandlers and peddlers were arrested.

The number of arrests, crime complaints and stops for suspicious activity meanwhile has decreased in the subways during the same period.

The NYPD said the crackdown on panhandlers comes after increased complaints from riders.

But some riders who spoke with WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane said they’re not bothered by the panhandlers.

“They’re not intrusive, it’s not as much as it used to be,” one woman said.

“I don’t have a problem with it because that’s their way of getting money,” another woman said.

Bratton has said targeting smaller crime can lead police officers to career criminals and those moving up the ladder to more serious offenses.

The police commissioner this week said he planned some late-night subway rides to get a first-hand look at quality-of-life issues that riders face.

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