The number of reported sex crimes in the subways is up significantly — but police officials say it is because more victims are coming forward. Transit Reporter Jose Martinez has the story.

The numbers from the top police official overseeing the subways sounded alarming.

"This year there have 431 reported sex crimes in the subway, with 156 more reported incidents than the year prior," said NYPD Chief of Transit Bureau Joseph Fox.

That's a nearly 57% increase.

But in a briefing for the MTA board on Monday, Chief Joseph Fox said more creeps are not on the loose in the transit system.

"I want to be clear, there is no indication that there are more sex offenses occurring in our subways," Chief Fox said. "Rather, our efforts are having the desired effect."

He attributed the numbers to a joint NYPD-MTA campaign encouraging victims of sexual crimes to come forward.

Two-hundred and sixty-seven people have done just that so far this year through the campaign's new website.

Most of the reported crimes involved groping or unwanted touching.

"I have seen or experienced situations that were questionable," said one female straphanger. "And it is good to be aware of the other ways or routes of being able to report suspicious activity. So it's good to know."

"I think that the only way that you can stop it is to bring it to light and show people that we're not going to stand for this," said another. "And I honestly think shame is a great motivator."

NYPD officials said some arrests have been made with the help of riders who have whipped out their smartphones, and the chief of the Transit Bureau said he or his top commanders personally read every report.

Fox said the rise in popularity of handheld devices has made it easier for police officers to do their job when investigating sex crimes in the subway. But he cautioned against riders being too quick to take one of these out if they catch someone in the act.

Many riders said they wouldn't hesitate to use a smartphone's camera for protection.

"I would possibly take a photo of it just to have it proof and like, advertise somewhere," said one woman.

Victims or witnesses can also report sexual misconduct on the MTA's web site.