Crime stories and statistics once again dominated a conversation between police and community members on Tuesday night in East Falls.
Lt. Edward Bier of the 39th Police District addressed community members’ concerns about violence and property crimes within their Police Service Area, which includes East Falls and sections of Germantown and North Philadelphia. Among the hot-button topics discussed were recent robberies that took place in both East Falls and Southwest Germantown.
Among the more shocking was a robbery at knifepoint of a 12-year-old girl on the 3200 block of W. Penn St. on Tuesday, Sept. 25, at approximately 4:30 p.m.
According to Bier, the victim was walking home from school when the suspect pointed a knife at her stomach, said “Give it to me or I’ll cut you,” and took her iPhone.
The suspect is described as a bearded black male in his twenties, approximately 5’6″ in height, weighing between 150 and 170 pounds, wearing a red hoodie. He was last seen driving a black sport utility vehicle in the direction of McMichael Park.
Post office robberies
In Southwest Germantown, a series of robberies recently took place in or near the parking lot of the post office building on the 5200 block of Greene St.
According to Bier, several robberies at gunpoint were reported at 5100 and 5200 Germantown Ave., 5200 Greene St., and 5000 Portico St. In each instance, an individual walking alone was robbed at very early hours of the morning – typically between 1 a.m. and 4:30 a.m.
“The things that are common to these robberies is that they were all on foot, and they were all walking through the post office parking lot,” said Bier.
However, Bier reported some success in curbing robberies. Thanks to the quick reactions of robbery victims, police were able to catch three suspects who had just committed a robbery at gunpoint at 12:30 a.m. on the 3600 block of Calumet St.
The victims, all Philadelphia University students, called in descriptions of the suspects, who had committed previous robberies in the area. The suspects remained in the area, and were apprehended on foot in the vicinity of the Henry Ave. Bridge.
“They went to the barrel too many times,” said Bier of the offenders.
‘Gun violence in down… but homicides are up’
Bier also presented up to date crime statistics for his command. Refining remarks made last month, he said that in the period from January to August of 2012, PSA-1 had seen 7 homicides, 20 robberies at gunpoint, and 31 aggravated assaults at gunpoint. In a similar period of time last year, there were 4 homicides, 33 point-of-gun robberies, and 42 point-of-gun aggravated assaults.
“Overall, gun violence is down,” he said, “but homicides are up.”
However, lest this appear to be reason for rejoicing, by Sept. 25, PSA-1 had seen 109 violent and major property crimes, in keeping with a trend that began in April of over 100 so called “Part One” crimes occurring per month. May was the 2012 leader with 142 Part One crimes.
Of these, 15 were robberies: 11 at gunpoint, and 5 using other means. Seven of these occurred in Germantown, 5 in East Falls, and 3 in the Abbottsford-Allegheny area.
September has also seen an increase in property crime, with 31 burglaries occurring so far. In addition, there have been 17 thefts from vehicles and 22 miscellaneous thefts, amounting to just shy of 70-percent of the total crime committed in PSA-1.
Asked for possible reasons about the spikes in certain crimes, Bier said that there are numerous repeat criminals living within the boundaries of PSA-1, predominantly in the Germantown area of the sector.
To illustrate the point, he held his hands about a foot apart, saying that he had an oversized folder containing the names of previous offenders. At least two previous crimes merit inclusion on Bier’s list.
‘If you have that concentration of people who are repeat offenders in an area, they’re going to do what they know,” he said. “To me, this is why the crime is up like that.”