Young group facing charges for high-end thefts in Philly and suburbs

The young people without previous criminal records were recruited in North Philadelphia and used to target high-end retail stores in Philadelphia and the surrounding suburbs.

Inspector Ray Evers off the Philadelphia Police (Tom MacDonald WHYY)

Inspector Ray Evers off the Philadelphia Police (Tom MacDonald WHYY)

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Two people are in custody and police are hoping to arrest seven more, including a 9-year-old, in connection with a series of high-end retail thefts in Philadelphia and the surrounding area.

Inspector Ray Evers said the two women in custody are accused of masterminding thefts of women’s apparel and accessories around the region.

“The losses at Lululemon in Philadelphia were upwards to $40,000, and I believe the losses in King of Prussia were up to about $20,000,” Evers said.

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Police said a group of mostly young people would enter the stores and scoop up high-end athleisure clothes, along with high-end handbags, and flee. Some stores were hit multiple times. Police said the thieves were only caught when they got stuck in Center City traffic on Walnut Street.

Evers said people under the age of 18 were recruited to do the thefts because they didn’t have criminal records.

“It’s absolutely unbelievable that this adult would use a 9-year-old to commit a crime at least two times,” he said. “We have her on video entering a store with a trash bag and loading up. It’s absolutely a disgrace.”

The goods taken in the robberies were allegedly sold in two Philadelphia bars and online. Evers said they will work with the city’s Nuisance Task Force to visit the bar owners and discuss the incidents, which could be followed by penalties.

Seven more suspects are still sought in the case.

The two adult suspects are being held on $180,000 bail, which Evers said is impressive for nine retail thefts. He said the high bail sends the message that police will not let criminals continue to hit stores with abandon.

“We are really making sure that the message is being related and that the economic crime unit from the DA’s office is putting it to them,” Evers said. “We’re working slowly to make sure that these crews are not talking about a child stealing a candy bar … We’re at $75,000 in theft.”

Police in Philadelphia and the suburbs are also reviewing videos of other incidents to determine if they can connect the group to more robberies in the region.

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