Citizens at a CAPS meeting Wednesday in the Loop pointed to the continuing rise of thefts on the CTA.
A Columbia College Chicago representative said administrators have noted a large number of cell phone thefts on the Red Line.
Police officers at the meeting said people make themselves targets when they take out and use their iPhones or other devices on CTA platforms or trains. They don’t pay enough attention to what is going on around them, the officers said.
“If you know these thefts are taking place predominately on the CTA platforms or on the trains, why can’t you at least curb your usage at these times,” CPD Officer Mary Panick said.
“To tell people not to use their phones on the subway, it’s just not going to happen,” Larry Gage, president of Fulton River District Association, said. “It’s kind of unrealistic in this day and age.”
The Fulton River District is located on the edge of downtown Chicago, northwest of the Loop, according to the Fulton River District website.
“CPD can’t be everywhere but we ask people to be a little bit smarter about what they’re doing,” Panick said. “We all have to be little more aware of what’s going on around us.”
She said offenders try to time it so they are able to get off and make their exit after they steal the phone.
“This city is pushing to become like a global city and a Wi-Fi city,” Gage said. “The city should make the subways a dead zone so people will stop using their phones.”
The CCC representative said cell phone companies are beginning to make cell phones unusable after they are stolen. iPhones have a couple of different safety features. Once someone has tried to unlock the phone more than a handful of times the phone times out and makes the user wait before it can be unlocked again. Also if a phone is locked the only information that can be taken from the phone is emergency numbers that the owner has put in place.
“For every arrest CPD makes, there is going to be a new offender,” Panick said. “CPD has made a lot of arrests though.”
With the holiday season approaching, Panick, said there will be a lot more people in the city. One approach CPD takes during this time is “window detail,” in which more officers are on patrol but not all of them are wearing uniforms.
Panick said,”The officers are there to monitor the pick pocketing and purse snatching.”
“I always stress ‘Call it in’ because if you see something and don’t report it there is no way for us to track it,” Panick said.
According to the crime statistics handouts distributed at the meeting, crime has increased in both Beat 121 and Beat 124, and crime decreased in Beat 122 and Beat 123. In Beat 122 there were 139 crimes last month, down from 151 crimes during the previous month.
Theft was the top crime in all four beats. In Beat 123, thefts decreased significantly from 74 incidents to 55. Other crimes included deceptive practice and battery, but more arrests were made in all four beats than in the previous month.
The next Loop
CAPS meeting will be at 565 W. Quincy on Jan. 9 at 7 p.m.