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Subway Superman

Published: 8/15/2012
Arthur Novit, a Chicago police officer who died July 8 at age 89, nabbed would-be robbers while working as a decoy in the subway, according to a news obituary in the Chicago Sun-Times.

Reporter Maureen O’Donnell wrote that Novit disguised himself as a vagrant or country bumpkin to attract robbers and donned a Superman costume to arrest those who tried to victimize other police decoys. This earned him a nickname: “Superman of the Subway,” O’Donnell wrote.

Arthur Novit, Superman of the Subway (Chicago Sun-Times)
Arthur Novit, Superman of the Subway (Chicago Sun-Times)


When the robbers pounced, Novit burst out in full superhero regalia, knocking the closet’s steel door to the ground as if it were made of cardboard. (He and other officers had loosened the hinges so they could slip in and out.)

When one of his police partners thanked “Superman” for helping officers, he replied, “Any time you need me, I’ll be here. It takes me only 10 minutes by cape,”
O’Donnell wrote. When the robbers appeared in court, a judge asked them who made the pinch. “Superman arrested me,” one said. The judge sent him to see a court psychiatrist.

Novit received many commendations from the Chicago Police Department, according to the obit.

“He was a natural police officer who had a sixth sense about the street,” said his former partner, Vic Jacobellis. “His best disguise was Superman. . . .I trusted him more than I trusted anyone else I worked with. He would never back down to anyone and always had everybody’s back.”

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This post was contributed by Alana Baranick, a freelance obituary writer. She is the director of the Society of Professional Obituary Writers and chief author of Life on the Death Beat: A Handbook for Obituary Writers.

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