Victim of iPhone stolen on the CTA tells her story

The following is a heartfelt note I got recently from a CTA theft victim, along with some tips on how not to be a victim.

stolen iphone.jpg

My iPhone was stolen right out of my hands on April 13 and the CTA does not have security cameras on Green Line, especially at the Laramie exit. (UPDATE: The CTA reports that as of Jan. 22, there are at least one or more cameras at every Green
Line station. The Laramie station has a full deployment of cameras.)

The thug low life ugly creep was wearing a black baseball cap, stood between 5’9″ and 6′ feet tall, with slender build and looked like a typical teenager with the lose black jeans and a hooded jacket.

It was all planned out and I should have trusted my first thoughts. He did not work alone. I felt another teenager between 18 to early 20’s guy overlooking my shoulder a few stops back at some point between Clinton and Cicero. What occurred was the following:

I was sitting in the last train cab.

Thief waited for the train to almost come to a stop when he grabbed my phone out of my hands. I should have simply looked up before the doors opened. (Photo from

Then he turned around and ran out the door before the doors closed and ran straight down the stairway to the Laramie exit at the bottom of the stairs.
It happened in less than 20 seconds, he got away!! So what can you do?
Nothing! He took it and now he is going to sell it. But what the thief
vdoes not know is that all iPhones have a mac address (media access
control layer address) and a unique emei or imei number. Eventually you
will be able to find your stolen phone if AT&T and other carriers
cooperate. At the moment there are privacy laws in place and they will
not give you the person’s name who has your phone when they attempt to
activate it, but they will report the user to the police and place the
imei or emei number to a national black list.

I was smart in setting the passcode lock on the phone too because after
10 failed attempts the phone will wipe out all of your personal
information and the thief will have to reset the phone to try and sell

Buyers of stolen iPhones beware!! You may end up going to jail or losing
the money you paid for the stolen phone.


1) Set the passcode lock.
2) Get mobileme.
3) Do not throw away the box that came with your phone at time of
purchase. Box contains emei number, mac address, and serial number.
4) Do not wear the white iPhone headphones so you are not targeted.
5) Sit in a train where there are many people (there were only 4 women
in my cab at the time — no men). They watch carefully.
6) Simply keep your phone put away between uses.
7) Carry pepper spray and whatever else you think will help!!
8)  Know your surrounding before the door opens and hang on to that

Be patient!! Developers are developing apps to find out where your phone
is after it is stolen.

I just bought another iPhone!!! Yipeeee!!!


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  • I'm sorry for your experience. There are certain train lines and buses that I never take my phone out while riding. The Green Line would probably be at the top of that list. Doesn't matter how badly I want to check Bustracker or return a text. It also helps to cultivate the teacher glare/cop stare. That usually scares away would be thieves. Let them think you're crazy and they'll leave you alone.

  • I'm sorry for the loss. Still, I can't imagine how pepper spray would have helped.

  • Man, that's awful. The exact same thing almost happened to me, once with my iPhone and once with my purse. Both times it happened around Laramie, and both times the kid tried to grab the items as they were running off the train. Idiots.

    These days, I never have my phone out on the train, I keep my purse around my arm tightly (instead of just sitting on my lap), and I always ALWAYS sit in the first car, close to the conductor's door. I have to take the Green Line every day to and from work, so that part is unfortunately unavoidable.

  • I nearly got ran over by a guy charging off a train after stealing a girl's gold necklace right off her neck, exactly a week ago. It was about 4:30, blue line @ Racine -- the theft happened in the first car, which was fairly crowded -- no standers but all the central seats filled, and the girl was sitting in the center section.

    I would say the major similarity in the situations is that both women retrospectively realized they were being watched (or rather that they ignored their discomfort initially), and that the snatch happened right as the train stopped/doors opened. So I would say, in addition to the people who say don't take out your phone, pay attention to people who are scoping your out (maybe Martha's teacher glare) and be especially alert as the train arrives.

  • Almost the exact same thing happened to my fiance the day before Thanksgiving. Please join the facebook group I created to raise awareness about this growing problem.
    The CTA is planning to roll out new train cars with cameras, but until that happens, which probably won't happen for quite a while, I think we need temporary cameras on the CTA train cars.!/home.php?sk=group_134395566615199
    The group is called "We Need Cameras on the CTA Trains NOW." Thanks!

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