The case of the stolen CTA maps: DePaul searches dorm rooms

Stealing CTA rail maps from train cars has become a "rite of passage," according to a late-April DePaulia report, the student newspaper for DePaul University.

And now that seemingly innocent ritual has led DePaul authorities to search dorm rooms for the pilfered maps after they were contacted by the CTA. A Monday DePaulia story about the search noted: "The CTA did not indicate that they requested this action from DePaul University" -- but they appreciated the search being done. From the story:

In a recent statement the CTA said: “The Chicago Transit Authority appreciates the actions taken by DePaul University to collect stolen transit maps. More than 150 maps were recovered.”

While it seems innocent enough and a fun college prank, taking a CTA map still is stealing. It ultimately means all of us riders have to pay to replace the map. And it hurts riders unfamiliar with their route.

For these reasons, it was kinda stupid for the DePaulia to report on the thefts in the first place. And to post two photos, one that I myself have purloined here (but with proper credit, of course!).

After all, DePaul is a Catholic university, that likes to abide by the 10 Commandments, one of which says, "Thou shalt not steal." So the story was embarrassing to the university, which it noted in an email to dorm residents after the May 7 search. From the story:

The email stated, “The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) contacted DePaul University after a story ran in the DePaulia where several residents admitted to stealing CTA ‘L’ maps and signage. The act of stealing and/or possessing CTA signage is illegal and a felony, not to mention an embarrassing reflection on DePaul University. These actions will not be tolerated by the Departments of Housing Services or Residential Education.”

Interestingly, I was talking to a few students from two other Chicago colleges yesterday before I saw this story. They live near the Pink Line, and I was asking them what they thought of the new Series 5000 rail cars. One guy said, "I actually like them, especially the lighted map that shows where you are. You know, I've seen some kids steal the paper maps."

Yep, they do, don't they?

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  • As they are conducting this search can they tell the difference between stolen maps and those bought from the CTA Store?

  • In reply to Cheryl:

    Good question Cheryl. Maybe the ones that are curled and torn would be the stolen ones.

  • In reply to Cheryl:

    According to the store, the ones there are "digitally printed onto archive quality paper" while last I checked the ones in trains were on plastic. One would hope the inspectors could tell the difference, or at least the CTA when it was turned over.

    But lets be honest here, how many college students do you think shelled out $36 for one of these?

  • Why was it stupid for the paper to print this story? Isn't that called investigative reporting?

  • In reply to chris:

    Well, OK Chris. I'll give you that.

  • In reply to chris:

    In that the article starts out with the inconvenience of not having the map on the train, I would concur with your take that it was investigative. There does seem to be a bit of condonation in the portion about "how a Yellow Line map is a great gift," but this hits me as overall being fairly responsible journalism.

    And if Kevin's point was that DePaul Administration wouldn't have done the search unless The DePaulia hadn't published this, well, too bad.

  • According to Miss Red Eye they were the real signs and are being reinstalled.

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    In the old days (maybe 7years ago), the CTA store sold the maps for only $12.99, and they were the same plastic ones that they installed in the trains.

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