2 teens charged in attack, robbery of TV host on CTA Red Line train in Lakeview

Chicago violence: 3 teens charged in recent CTA attacks
CHICAGO (WLS) -- Three teenagers have been charged in a string of recent robberies on Chicago public transit.

Two of them - a 15-year-old girl and 17-year-old boy - are accused of stealing a local actor's phone on a CTA Red Line train and striking him unconscious, police said.

TV host Will Clinger has had days to heal from the assault that happened to him on the Red Line last week as he headed downtown to meet a friend. He got on at Thorndale, and as the train pulled into Addison, things got, well, wild.

"I had my phone out and there were two people, a woman and a man, sitting across from me," Clinger said. "The woman darted across the aisle, grabbed the phone and both of them ran out the train car."

As he was next to the door, the 64-year-old bolted after them.

"It was pure instinct," he said. "I chased them down the platform and the next thing I know, I don't remember getting hit, but something must have hit me hard in the head. I got stitches to prove it."

He said he regrets his action.

"I went face forward onto the platform," Clinger said.

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The thieves got away on a night when police said there was another incident near Thorndale, a robbery of a female passenger.

Clinger, the host of "Wild Travels" on PBS, a show about eclectic encounters across America, was stunned at the violence. He suffered a contusion, brain bleed and a swollen right hand.

He was mugged years ago on the Washington DC transit system, but, he said with some levity, that this was worse.

"This city is a great city," Clinger said. "It 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 woman, 28, in the 1100-block of West Thorndale.

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A third teen, a 15-year-old boy, and the 17-year-old boy were charged with robbing a 33-year-old man 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 declines in ridership, prompting police to announce increased staffing on public transit. Even private citizens have volunteered to ride CTA trains to address crime.

Police and CTA officials have said more officers and private security will be patrolling trains, buses and platforms. Transit union officials have called on CTA to bring back conductors aboard trains to further beef up security.

The video in the player above is from an earlier report.

Sun-Times Media contributed to this report.
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