Looking at the city’s crime log may now play a role for students deciding whether to take SEPTA or hail a taxi.
Over the past month, several bus riders have been robbed by Derrick Gilham, 44, who frequented SEPTA bus stops along Broad Street — particularly the Olney station.
Targeting victims who were teenage African-American males, Gilham would describe an elaborate story involving the murder of his brother and then threaten the victims with a gun to obtain their cell phones and money, according to the Philadelphia Police Department.
The perpetrator was robbing individuals roughly once a week at any time between 6 a.m. and 1 a.m.
On Jan. 27, he was arrested on charges of robbery, theft and assault. After his arrest, Gilham was convicted of seven robberies. He evaded police custody until Jan. 27 because “he blended in with everybody,” said Philadelphia Police Lieutenant George McClay.
Gilham was caught on tape by a SEPTA surveillance camera and the video was broadcasted on the news.
He was recognized by another police force in the 26th district in the Eastern division of Philadelphia Police, where he had been in custody for other charges.
McClay believed Gilham employed intimidation to get what he wanted.
“It wasn’t like he was doing anything out of the ordinary. He was talking to people,” McClay said.
Though SEPTA had police stationed at these stops and used surveillance cameras extensively, officers can’t be everywhere, he added. “Even if a police officer was there he wouldn’t think he was robbing [the victim].”
Richard Maloney, the director of Public Affairs for SEPTA, said Gilham was characterized as a “professional criminal.”
“Most of the victims said he had a very interesting come-on and tried to make friends with [the victims] and then he pulled a gun,” Maloney said.
Many students at Penn don’t feel safe riding the railways.
Anson Hwang, a Wharton freshman, said “[SEPTA] gets really sketchy.”
Hwang prefers to travel in groups, particularly due to the fact the people on SEPTA are of a “more aggressive type.”
Wytong Zhu, a freshman in Engineering, also doesn’t feel very safe riding SEPTA.
“You are constantly on the look-out,” he said, adding that he usually tries to avoid taking it.
According to Maloney, “[SEPTA] address security issues very seriously.”
Identifying Gilham is a success story based on good police work and the SEPTA surveillance system, he added.
The transit system employs its own police force, uses surveillance cameras and works alongside the Philadelphia Police to ensure a very safe system, he added.
The SEPTA police are armed and trained and “patrol the entire system” during normal hours.Comments powered by Disqus
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