According to the Chicago Sun-Times, a 24-year-old man named Mohammed Abdullah was arrested last month for stealing between $500 to $10,000 in prepaid Chicago public transportation passes.
Now, get this. The passes were also specifically designed for a program that gives Ventra cards to homeless students in Chicago Public School (CPS).
Apparently, CPS isn’t doing a very good job of keeping track of the Ventra fare cards. If that wasn’t already apparent by the headline.
What’s not apparent, however, is how Abdullah snatched hundreds of these cards, which Chicago police obtained from the convenience store he works at (79th & Saginaw in South Chicago).
Now, remember that we’re talking about 300 tiny sheets of paper, all of which could fit easily into a toddler’s shoebox. This means they’re easy to steal but impossible to find.
How did this 24-year-old convenience store worker find these? Pretty simple, he didn’t find them.
According to the Sun-Times, here’s the story:
“CPS spokeswoman Emily Bittner said the district received a tip from the CTA about the missing cards and worked closely with CTA to investigative the scheme and identify the perpetrator. CPS turned over all information to authorities to complete the investigation and terminated an employee in connection with the events.”
Translation, a CPS employee gave or sold these passes to Abdullah.
Now, let me tell you another story.
When I was in college, I worked at a notable bar on the campus of the University of Missouri. I stopped working at the bar for my senior year of college to focus on grades and getting a job, but I still kept close connections with the bar and other employees.
During my senior year, it was discovered that “one of the employees” was busted pocketing a fraction of the cover charge. Although I never participated, this was something that took place to a smaller degree when I worked at the bar years before.
When I realized it was taking place, I made the decision to stay out of it and also look the other way.
On a game day, the amount these door-guys could skim off-the-top could have easily reached the thousands. And worst of all, most of the door guys were in on it.
So what’s your point?
Well, when I began telling this story, I said that “one of the employees” was busted pocketing cover. But as I also said, several other door guys were in on it.
Not only did he take the fall, the bar knew that this individual employee wasn’t the lone culprit. They also knew that they couldn’t fire six people, and it would be awful for the bar’s image if the true scope of the story came out.
Last year, 20,205 of CPS’ approximately 400,000 students were identified as homeless (according to the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless). And in the same time, only 62 percent of them received transportation funding.
This decreasing number should make you even more disheartened by the news that CPS employees are capable of such a thing.
Stealing bus and ‘L’ passes meant for homeless kids?
That’s not criminal, that’s just evil.