Division of Public Safety cracks down on theft after spike in crimes against property


Crimes against property increased 37 percent since this time last year


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Photo by Sophia Lee and Sophia Lee and Sophia Lee and Sophia Lee and Sophia Lee


Retail thieves beware — the Division of Public Safety is on your case.

A trend in frequent retail thefts has developed in the Penn Patrol zone from 30th to 43rd streets and Market Street to Baltimore Avenue with 17 retail thefts last month, eight this month and 13 back in March.

DPS instituted a task force to take a closer look at the circumstances surrounding recent retail thefts.

“We looked at it and said [that] this is unacceptable,” Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush said of the spike in thefts.

On a normal day, businesses and restaurants keep a police log where officers check in with their names and time of visit. The log functions as a deterrent to crime by making business owners and potential criminals aware of consistent law enforcement presence.

DPS decided to take it one step further at the beginning of this month.

The retail theft task force performed analysis of the times of day when these crimes occur at the top five businesses targeted in retail thefts, as determined by DPS. AlliedBarton security guards are now being stationed at the entrances of the most commonly-targeted businesses periodically throughout the day to deter thieves before they act.

So far, there have been three retail thefts in July, all of which resulted in arrests. While statistics about this enhanced security detail are not available yet, Rush said DPS observed “good, very positive results.”

Last month’s overall increase in crimes against property as compared to the previous year bled into June, as well.

Despite DPS’s crackdown on retail thefts in June, an increase in thefts from auto — eight as opposed to only three last month — kept the total number of crimes against property high. There were 81 crimes against property throughout June — a 37 percent increase from the 59 last year.

Bike thefts continue to be an issue in the Penn Patrol zone. DPS said that because of the typical disconnect between the time the thefts occur and the time they are reported, they cannot use a similar analytical technique to pinpoint trends in circumstances.

Seventeen bike thefts took place in the month of June, contributing to the almost tripled increase in bike thefts this calendar year, so far. 14 of the incidents involved affiliated complainants. DPS reports that three arrests were made in June in connection with bike thefts — leaving 82 percent of the June cases unresolved.

Burglaries doubled from June 2013 to June 2014, with one arrest made this June out of the nine reported cases.

“We have several hot investigations going on,” Rush said. While she was unable to provide any specific details, Rush said that DPS works with the Philadelphia Police to identify any similarities in burglaries.

Five of the incidents involved unsecured properties. Rush noted that unsecured rear doors of properties continue to be a point of issue when burglaries are reported.

“It’s a big warning to people living off campus for the summer — lock your doors,” Rush said.

While crimes against property increased, crimes against people were down for the month with just three compared to 11 for the month of May. There were no aggravated assaults or purse snatches and only one forcible sex offense, which involved a known assailant, in June.

The single robbery of the month at the Wawa on 3900 Spruce St. continues to be investigated by Philadelphia Police.

Total crime for the month saw a decrease of 7 percent, largely due to retail thefts being cut in half from May to June.

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