Chicago police and Streeterville universities are warning residents and passers-by to be aware of traveling mobs of teenagers who use the CTA and cell phones to meet up in the Near North Side area and commit crimes ranging from assaults to shoplifting and general mayhem.
Police arrested seven young men in their mid-to-late teen Saturday night on "mob action" charges after about two dozen men attacked a person parking his scooter in the 300 block of E. Chicago Avenue across from Northwestern University's Wieboldt Hall, according to a Tribune news report.
Other flash mob incidents this year include:
- A group of 70 youths storming a McDonald's at Chicago and State and creating a disturbance that forced the restaurant to close for three hours.
- "Flash mob offenders" exiting the Chicago/State Red Line station and shoplifting at area stores. This behavior prompted Loyola University to warn students and staff at its Water Tower campus.
From the Tribune report:
In mid-May, Chicago police said they were implementing strategies to
address mob action incidents and flash mobs -- which are often
coordinated through cell phone texting or social networking Web sites --
in the downtown areas. Police, however, have stressed that this
phenomenon, involving large groups of teens, "is not unique to Chicago."
And thanks to Lyletta, a friend who tipped me off to this story. She shared her own experiences in a note to me:
When I'm going north (from the South Side) on the Red Line
on the weekend I've seen kids who
clearly have never been that far north heavily rely on directions from
their phones or from texts that they receive. If you have a reliable
contact with CTA or CPD that I can text when I see something let me
The CTA has told me they are not the
police, and cannot accept text messages from riders about criminal
activities. And I agree. Police must handle crime problems, but when
you're just a few feet away from an offender witnessing a crime in
progress, it's just too dangerous to whip out your phone and call 911.
Chicago Police *do* have a TXT2TIP program "so that YOU can anonymously and
SAFELY help rid your community of crime by sending information to the
Chicago Police Department via a text message from your cellular phone."
However, the police website warns: "If you see a crime in progress or need to report an emergency, please call 911." So, forget that option on a CTA train crawling with knuckleheads.
Here's the full text of an alert issued by Northwestern University after the Saturday night attack by the flash mob:
"On Saturday June 4, 2011, at approximately 8:26 p.m., a male not
affiliated with Northwestern was the victim of an attempted robbery. The
victim had parked his motor scooter on the north side of Chicago Avenue
across from Wieboldt Hall (300 block) when approximately 15 to 20 male
African Americans, all approximately 16 to 20 years old, approached him.
One of the subjects threw a baseball at the victim's face and knocked
him to the ground. Several others from the group punched and hit him
several times. The victim tried to protect himself and fought back. The
subjects eventually fled eastbound toward the lake. Chicago Police and
Northwestern University Police responded, and Chicago Police later
arrested three members believed to be part of the group on mob action
charges. The victim was treated on the scene by Chicago Fire Department paramedics. No proceeds were taken from the victim.The victim could not provide descriptions of the multiple subjects involved.
Police remind all community members to use caution when traveling,
especially at night. Report suspicious activities immediately to the
University Police or Chicago Police by dialing 911 or by utilizing a
Blue Light Emergency Telephone. You can also contact the Northwestern
University Police Department by dialing (312) 503-3456. Contact the Chicago Police Department if you have any information that might assist in this investigation."