Blue Line robber busted after 2 relatives identify him from police bulletin: prosecutors

CHICAGO — A man is charged with attacking and robbing a CTA passenger after his relatives recognized him in news reports about the crime and turned him in to Chicago police, prosecutors said. And a crafty good Samaritan helped reel the suspect in, too.

The 35-year-old victim was riding a Blue Line train when James Adams, 30, boarded his car and started looking around at 6:15 a.m. last Friday, Assistant State’s Attorney Domenica Devitt said.

Concerned by Adams’ suspicious behavior, the victim cradled his phone between his chest and bookbag as the train approached the Western stop in Bucktown, officials said. But Adams allegedly tried to grab the phone anyway, leading to a struggle.

Adams punched the victim in the face, then grabbed the man’s legs and pulled him from his seat to the floor, Devitt said. He continued to hit the man while he was down, then picked up his phone and exited at Western.

James Adams and surveillance images of the suspect that were released by Chicago police. | Chicago Police Department

The victim flagged someone down a few minutes later and used that person’s phone to send a message to his own phone to report it stolen.

Incredibly, Devitt said, Adams called the good Samaritan’s phone a few minutes later, and they told him to turn the phone in to the nearest CTA station because it was being tracked. CTA surveillance video showed Adams turning in the phone at the O’Hare Blue Line terminal a short time later, according to Devitt.

CPD’s Mass Transit investigators released surveillance images of the robbery suspect on Monday, and two of Adams’ relatives contacted police separately to identify him, Devitt said. Adams surrendered to police on Thursday.

Devitt said he has three felony convictions: robbery in 2010, aggravated vehicular hijacking with a firearm in 2011, and aggravated battery of a government employee in 2011.

He is now charged with robbery again.

Judge Maryam Ahmad set bail at $300,000. Adams must post 10% of the bail amount to go home on electronic monitoring.

Robbery reports in CTA stations and on CTA trains and platforms are down significantly through the first four months of the year, with 106 cases reported as of May 1. But the city’s crime data shows that incidents are still more common than in most recent pre-pandemic years when ridership was much higher.

Here’s a look at CTA train, platform, and station robberies recorded through April 30 of each year:
2013:    115        
2014:    66
2015:    58    
2016:    84    
2017:    88
2018:    102
2019:    130
2020:    131    
2021:    110
2022:    145        
2023:    106

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