In light of a series of robberies at knifepoint in a segment of the 39th Police District, the Philadelphia Police Department has issued a robbery alert warning residents to avoid becoming a victim of this trend.
Five crimes of this nature have occurred in less than a month in the district’s Police Service Area 1, which includes East Falls and sections of Germantown and North Philadelphia. With the exception of the bold robbery of a young girl in broad daylight, all have occurred in the overnight hours.
On Tuesday, Sept. 25, at 4:30 p.m. on the 3200 block of W. Penn St. in East Falls, a 12-year-old girl was walking home from school when the suspect – described as a black male in his 20s, 5’6″, 150-170 pounds, with dark complexion and a scruffy beard – came up to her, pointed a pocketknife at her stomach, and said, “Give me your stuff or I will kill you.”
The victim, who was robbed of her iPod, threw her bags down and yelled for help. A witness saw the suspect flee in a black sport utility vehicle.
The four early-morning robberies by knife
The balance of the knifepoint robberies took place in Southwest Germantown between approximately 1 a.m. and 3 a.m.
On Tuesday, Sept. 11, at 3 a.m. on the 5000 block of Portico St., a 42-year-old female reported that her finger was cut while attempting to take a knife away from the man who robbed her of cash and her cell phone.
On Saturday, Sept. 22, at 2:58 a.m. on the 400 block of W. Price St., a 22-year-old male was walking on Harvey St. when an unknown black male walked up to him with a white handled kitchen knife and took his cell phone, wallet, and a duffle bag.
Shortly before 1:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 2, a taxi driver picked up a fare at the intersection of Wayne Ave. and Coulter St., and drove the customer to the 5300 block of Newhall St. Upon arrival, the suspect – a black male, approximately 22 years old – pulled out a knife and told the driver, “Nothing personal, but I need your money.” The offender took $150 and fled northbound on Newhall Street.
The grisliest occurrence took place on Saturday, Oct. 6 at 3:10 a.m. on the 5300 block of Alfred St., when a 22-year-old female was told, “Don’t run and give me your phone.” She began screaming when the offender – described as being a thin-built black male, 5’6″ in height – began to stab her face and back. The offender fled northbound on Alfred St. with the victim’s purse and cell phone.
To discourage these offenses, which are often crimes of opportunity, the 39th District is recommending the following steps:
Pay attention to your surroundings. Do not walk past an area if you see a person or persons in that area acting suspicious.
Walk in well-lit areas: Try walking along the main streets that are well lit and have frequent traffic instead of small side streets and alley ways.
Try to travel in numbers: Offenders usually go after individuals walking alone so, if possible, walk with friends.
Keep personal property secure: Keep a firm hold on your pocketbooks and backpacks or other carrying bags, also keep valuables out of plain view (i.e., money, wallets, iPods and cell phones). Offenders will target an individual if they see an item they want in plain view.
Do not walk and talk on your cell phone; texting while walking is also not advisable. Wearing headphones while walking distracts you from your surroundings.
“Never fight back with a robbery suspect,” cautioned police. “Always keep your safety first, try to remain calm, and get a good physical description of the offender.”