Two of them – a 15-year-old girl and a 17-year-old boy – are accused of stealing a local actor’s phone on a CTA Red Line train and knocking him unconsciouspolice said.
TV host Will Clinger had days to heal of the attack that happened to him on the red line last week as he was heading downtown to meet a friend. He got on at Thorndale, and as the train pulled into Addison, things got crazy.
“I had my phone out and there were two people, a woman and a man, sitting across from me,” Clinger said. “The woman rushed across the aisle, grabbed the phone, and the two of them got out of the wagon.”
As he stood by the door, the 64-year-old rushed after them.
“It was pure instinct,” he said. “I chased them down the platform and the next thing I know, I don’t remember being hit, but something must have hit me hard in the head. I got stitches for prove it.”
He said he regretted his action.
“I went face forward on the platform,” Clinger said.
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The thieves fled one night when police said there had been another incident near Thorndale, the theft of a female passenger.
Clinger, the host of “Wild Travels” on PBS, a show about eclectic dating across America, was stunned by the violence. He suffered a contusion, brain hemorrhage and a swollen right hand.
He was mugged years ago on the Washington DC transit system, but, he said with some levity, it was worse.
“This city is a big city,” Clinger said. “He deserves to be enjoyed without feeling threatened, let’s be honest.”
The teens were arrested Monday in the 5100 block of South Wentworth Avenue, police said.
The girl was also charged with robbing a 74-year-old man on March 21 in the 1000 block of West Fullerton. And on April 25, she allegedly robbed a 28-year-old woman in the 1100 block of West Thorndale.
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A third teenager, a 15-year-old boy and the 17-year-old boy were charged with robbing a 33-year-old man on April 13 in the 600 block of South State. They are also accused of robbing a woman the same day in the 1800 block of West Howard Street.
Crime has increased on the CTA during the pandemic despite declining ridership, prompting police to announce increased staffing on public transport. Even private citizens have volunteered to ride the CTA trains to fight crime.
Police and CTA officials said more officers and private security would patrol trains, buses and platforms. Public transport union officials have asked the CTA to bring conductors back on trains to further enhance safety.
The video in the player above is from an earlier report.
Sun-Times Media contributed to this report.
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