SEPTA police arrest five accused in weekend assaults, armed robberies

SEPTA officials say more than 28,000 cameras will help them make sure criminals face charges when they commit crimes on the transit system.

The concourse of SEPTA’s 15th Street Station

SEPTA’s 15th Street Station near City Hall on July 15, 2021. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

SEPTA police are warning would-be criminals that they have more than 28,000 video cameras monitoring the transit system.

Five people were arrested following multiple incidents at SEPTA stations over the weekend. SEPTA Police Chief Thomas Nestel said security cameras caught the two assaults and three robberies.

The assaults took place at the 8th and 11th street stops of the Market-Frankford Line, and the three gunpoint robberies took place at 15th Street Street, the City Hall crossover, and 30th Street stations, Nestel said.

The assault at 8th and Market resulted in one person falling onto the tracks. SEPTA quickly cut the power to the area to keep the woman from being hurt. She made it back onto the platform with only minor injuries.

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“We’re dealing with teenagers that have a hair-trigger when it comes to self-control. So, we can’t get into their heads to prevent it,” Nestel said. He added that when people commit acts on SEPTA vehicles or at stations, there will be video of the incidents available, and police will make arrests.

Nestel said he was proud of his team, who made the arrests after pictures of the alleged suspects were made available.

More than 10 people were taken into custody by SEPTA police in the four incidents, with half of them taken home to their parents after the investigation. Criminal charges are pending against three people involved in the robberies and two people involved in the assaults, according to SEPTA officials.

The transit agency has cameras virtually everywhere that transports commuters, Nestel said.

SEPTA is developing a real-time crime center to have people specially trained to monitor those cameras in order to assist officers in the field to apprehend suspects. They expect that will be completed within the next few months.

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The transit agency is also short about 30 police officers and is working to fill those vacancies.

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