How the CTA worked to help with arrest of person "stealing" radio airwaves

So, what really happened behind the scenes to intercept and eventually capture the fellow who “stole” CTA radio airwaves and sent out about 300 communiques? Here’s the story copied directly from the report given to the CTA board this month by President Richard Rodriguez:

Today, I would like to recognize and commend several employees who were instrumental in the arrest of an individual who was illegally transmitting over CTA radio signals. Fortunately, while working with the FCC, the Chicago Police, and the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force to investigate, we were able to block these pirate transmissions to field personnel and keep them confined to modified channels at the Control Center where they were monitored and recorded.

Richard Smith, a Customer Assistant at our Jackson Red Line station was the first employee to assist in this arrest. He aptly responded to a stolen radio reward inquiry made by a customer. Mr. Smith, due to the unusual nature of the request, was suspicious and put the customer on the phone directly with the Control Center.

The Customer Assistant Controller, Tisha Stokes, quickly alerted her manager of this call. William Reilly, the manager on duty had been a key member of the operations team supporting the investigation since its inception.

He immediately recognized the voice, took over the call and during the conversation was able to elicit details regarding the type of equipment and the person’s contact information. In fact, after having personally heard a recording of the conversation, I turned to senior staff and commented, “Those FBI people really are tactful in their questioning.” I was soon informed that the person on the phone was not FBI, but our own William Reilly.

Finally, Dan Hall, our Chief of Security, after having arrived at the station and speaking with the unauthorized transmitter, eventually elicited a confession. The customer was detained by CPD and taken into custody by the FBI. Last week he was charged with violation of the Patriot Act’s prohibition of interference with trains and train dispatch.

This ladies and gentlemen, is what makes an organization such as the CTA work so well . . . teamwork. I would like to personally thank Mr. Smith, Ms. Stokes, Mr. Reilly, and Mr. Hall and invite them to come forward. Please join me in giving them a round of applause for their quick thinking and the crucial part they played in resolving this security concern.

It’s a good thing to recognize good work by great employees.


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  • Not to be mean, but I am failing to see the point of just republishing information that the CTA put on its website a couple of weeks ago, without much further analysis.

    Since this is a blog, I assume that anyone who reads it has a computer and could go to the "Board Presentations" page the day after the meeting and read what CTA brass has to say. I'll even furnish the link.

    Your value has been in doing what CTA wouldn't or couldn't do, such as your brother's alert system.

    And, as I have frequently noted, a lot of things CTA has done lately have not appeared on its site and, in retrospect, have been covered up, including that at least as early as Sept. 2008, management intended to retire the NABIs (which came out only after one split), or that CTA had "firm" bus orders out there that it couldn't fund (which you picked up from, after its Canadian members posted information to that effect on that forum).

  • Jack, since you comment here all the time, I take it you are very engaged with the CTA. So maybe you go to their Web site quite often and look at the board documents. But I highly doubt that many of my readers do that. So I publish here what I find there.

    Besides, there's plenty of criticism of employees here, so I thought it might be refreshing to note that not all CTA employees are a bunch of nimwits trying to ruin our commutes. (Obviously, I'm kidding here.)

    My posts will not please all the people all the time. You are one voice among thousands, and I appreciate your voice. But you're not the only person I'm writing for here.

  • I always look at posts like this as Kevin pouring through that wretched CTA site so we don't have to. Thanks, Kev!

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