Dozens of individuals face criminal charges following a night of coordinated store ransacking in various areas of Philadelphia. The incidents, fueled by social media, involved groups of thieves working together to break into stores, steal merchandise, and flee the scene. Law enforcement authorities have made at least 52 arrests, with charges filed against 30 individuals, the majority of whom are adults. The Philadelphia District Attorney’s office spokesperson, Jane Roh, confirmed the charges, which include burglary, theft, and other counts.
The ransacking occurred after a peaceful protest over a judge’s decision to dismiss murder and other charges against a Philadelphia police officer who fatally shot driver Eddie Irizarry through a rolled-up window. However, the individuals involved in the ransacking were not affiliated with the protest, according to Interim Police Commissioner John Stanford.
Numerous stores, including Foot Locker, Lululemon, and Apple, were targeted during the flash mob-style thefts. Additionally, 18 state-run liquor stores were broken into, leading the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board to temporarily close all 48 Philadelphia retail locations and one in suburban Cheltenham for employee safety and damage assessment.
Videos shared on social media depicted masked individuals running out of stores with stolen merchandise while police officers apprehended some suspects. The thefts and unrest spanned multiple areas of Philadelphia, resulting in smashed display windows and broken storefront coverings. In one instance, seven cars were stolen from a lot in the northeast, with one vehicle recovered as of Wednesday afternoon.
Businesses along North Philadelphia’s 22nd Street corridor, including pharmacies, a hair salon, a tax preparation company, and a cellphone store, were among the six establishments looted. Benjamin Nochum, the pharmacist and store manager at Patriot Pharmacy, expressed frustration, stating that his business had been targeted three times since 2020.
Authorities are investigating the possibility of organized efforts through social media, with indications of a caravan of vehicles moving from location to location. Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney condemned the criminal activity, emphasizing that it would not be tolerated in the city.
The incidents in Philadelphia resemble similar smash-and-grab thefts witnessed in the San Francisco Bay Area, where organized groups of thieves have targeted high-end stores. Targeting the safety of workers and customers, the retail giant recently announced the closure of nine stores in four states due to theft and organized retail crime.
No injuries were reported during the Philadelphia ransacking, although a security guard at Foot Locker was reportedly assaulted. Police investigations are ongoing, and the affected stores will reopen once the damage is repaired and safety is ensured.