Police say CTA robbery team is working downtown trains— but investigators provide NO photos of the suspects

Update: On Wednesday, Jan. 15, CPD stated in a corrected community alert that the two 2018 incidents were erroneously included in its original warning.

Police replaced the 2018 robberies with ones occurring at the North-Clybourn Red Line station on the morning of Dec. 18 and at the Chicago Brown Line station late on Dec. 18.

The community alert still does not include any images of the offenders.

CWBChicago’s original report from Jan. 14 follows.


In a new community alert, Chicago police say a pair of robbers has repeatedly targeted CTA train passengers in the downtown area since May 2018. Yet, once again, CPD has failed to provide basic images of the men they believe are responsible for the ongoing crime pattern.

City officials have boasted near and far about the crystal clear and plentiful images of offenders that the CTA’s camera network can provide. But, time after time, investigators are releasing community alerts about violent crime patterns on the train system without disseminating a single photo of the suspects.

Police have cleared dozens of violent CTA cases by asking for the public’s help in identifying offenders seen in surveillance images. The technique paid dividends as recently as last week when two teenagers turned themselves in after the media blasted images of their alleged involvement in the robbery of a pregnant Red Line passenger.

The question remains, though: Why are so many other transit-related community alerts distributed with nothing more than written descriptions of the offenders?

In the latest alert, Area Central detectives say they have connected a series of five robberies between May 2018 and last Saturday with a set of offenders.

The robbers are snatching and using force to take phones from CTA passengers before running away, the alert said.

Police said the pattern involves robberies in the 200 block of North Michigan on the evening of May 15, 2018; in the 100 block of East Lower Wacker on the evening of May 25, 2018; at the Grand Red Line station on evening of Dec. 31; and at the Chicago Red Line station on the afternoon of Jan. 4 and again on the evening of Jan. 11.

Rather than including photos of the offenders that could be worth the proverbial 1,000 words, the alert merely describes them as “one or two African American males, 17-20 years old, 5’6”-6’, 140-170 lbs.”

Anyone with information about the incidents can contact Area Central detectives at 312-747-8380 regarding pattern P19-1-414C.

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is news@cwbchicago.com