Chicago Man Charged With Felony For Jamming Mobile Phones On A Train

Chicago Man Charged with Felony for Jamming Cell Phones on a Train

People squawking on their phones on public transportation is annoying as hell. That's why one Chicago man allegedly took it upon himself to jam fellow commuters' mobile phone signals as part of a morning ritual that lasted months. Now he's a charged felon in gaol, being held for a $US10,000 bail. Dennis Nicholl, 63, is accused of jamming mobile phone signals aboard the Red Line train in Chicago -- a habit that one fellow Red Line commuter claims has been happening since 2014. It's because people talking on trains annoy Nicholl, his lawyer says.

Nicholl had allegedly operated an object that the Chicago Sun-Times describes as "an object that had five antennas" and that was "shipped from overseas". Nicholls knew the gizmo was illegal. Police say passengers had been complaining about mobile phone service on the train for months (Nicholl takes the Red Line to work everyday), and that one concerned passenger had even dialled 911. That's when the cops got involved.

Cops started working with the Chicago Transit Authority and the Federal Communications Commission, the Chicago Tribune reports, working off a tip they received months ago, as well as a submitted photo of Nicholl holding the black electronic jammer.

After setting up plainclothes surveillance on the train, an undercover officer on Tuesday recognised Nicholl from his photo and sat near him. The cop used a personal mobile phone to try to make a call, and it was immediately dropped. That's when Nicholl was arrested.

Today, Nicholl appeared in court, where the judge called him "the cell phone police". He is being charged with a felony: one count of "count of unlawful interference with a public utility", the Sun-Times reports.

Apparently, Nicholl pulled a similar stunt back in 2009, but was only charged for a misdemeanour that time, and that jammer was confiscated and destroyed. People are debating whether he's a hero or a villain. I'd be pissed if my phone ever got jammed -- but hey, if something keeps other people from chattering obnoxiously or texting-and-walking, I guess I wouldn't complain.

[DNAinfo, Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times]

Top image: Daniel Schwen/Wikipedia



    By far the majority of people using mobile devices on trains are using them for the internet. That's who the guy would be blocking- people browsing facebook, catching up on news, going through emails and doing work. The guy is an absolute selfish little arsehole.

    The word "Hero" gets thrown around a lot these days, but in this instance we have a true hero. Blocking out the bellows of the minutiae of peoples everyday lives would be a godsend on public transport.
    Most people have no idea about social decorum or how to behave in public, and others are passive attention seeking children, wishing the world to know they have a social life (then why are they on public transport?), and friends (albeit vacuous ones).
    Public transport should be treated like public libraries - shhh, other people are trying to read/get to work without a headache.

      This guy is not a hero, he is a criminal, and is where he belongs. Nobody has the right to stop other people going about their business. Not only does such a device block voice calls, it also blocks text messages and data. Public transport should not be treated like libraries, it is not a library.

      Don't like the noise, put some headphones in with white noise, that is what I do when I need to concentrate and the environment is too noisy.

      I assume you are the type of person who would move into a house at the end of an airport runway, and complain about aircraft noise. Then when you don't get your own way, you would fly a kite in the approach path to the runway, disrupting aircraft taking off and landing. (Yes this has happened in Kyneton, Victoria).

      Just because something annoys you, does not give you the right to break the law.

      Last edited 11/03/16 9:51 am

        Actually, this is why I ride a bike to work, or, if raining, drive my car. (my response was merely tongue-in-cheek, not to be taken quite so seriously)
        Gone are the days where you could catch a 'quiet' carriage on a train...(you still can in England)

          Tough shit, You are catching the train with the rest of the public, Its public transport, Not your own personal transport.

    I just had to say think you for using the correct spelling for gaol. :)

      I clicked through to the article for precisely the same reason. Thank-you, Gizmodo.

      I'll pass the word on to our brilliant and dedicated sub-editor, thanks!

      It's not the correct spelling, it's just another spelling.

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