Does your weekend Inquirer that you spend your hard-earned money on keep vanishing from your stoop every Saturday and Sunday? Here's the scoop and what you can do about it...
I am writing regarding an ongoing problem my neighbors and I are having, and the fact that a call to 911 this morning to report a mass theft in progress produced no officers on the scene. It's clear that the call was disregarded. I realize they have better things to do but this is a piece of frickin' cake for them.
If someone kept habitually stealing something from you and you had caught them red-handed doing it numerous times--in fact, if you had video footage of them stealing from you over and over again--and you went to the police, you'd expect them to help, right? What if you also had tons of neighbors who were also getting things stolen by this guy and who had confronted the thief numerous times and were willing to testify against him? What if a frequent victim of this thief told you exactly the intersection where the person lives and you shared this information with the police? What if one of the officers who saw your footage grew up in the neighborhood and recognized the thief as a repeat offender with a criminal record and knew him by name?
This thief would be nailed to the wall, right? Wrong.
You can watch 4 examples of the thief in action on youtube at the following links:
GUY STEALING NEWSPAPER 3-3-2012_7-20-57.wmv - YouTube
GUY STEALING NEWSPAPER Motion-3-24-2012_7-41-15.wmv - YouTube
GUY STEALING NEWSPAPER Motion-3-25-2012_7-31-43.wmv - YouTube
GUY STEALING NEWSPAPER Motion-3-31-2012_7-11-20.wmv - YouTube
Several months ago my neighbors' and my papers kept going missing every Saturday and Sunday. At first we thought our papers weren't getting delivered but then we got suspicious because it kept happening to lots of us. I set up a cheap webcam with cheap surveillance freeware above my stoop and discovered that it's being stolen repeatedly every weekend by the same gentleman who works his way through the neighborhood stealing as many papers as possible.
Then I spoke to the deliverer, an elderly man who explained to me that the thief moves around South Philly stealing newspapers and that he knows where the man lives. He urged me to start reporting it to the police because he gets penalized heavily by the Inquirer every time someone reports that they didn't receive their paper. A few weeks ago the Inquirer even sent him back out and made him redeliver to our entire block because we were all calling in and complaining on the same morning that our papers had been stolen.
The thief is stealing the papers to go resell them on Broad Street. The Inquirer apparently used to have a program called the Hawkers Program where they dropped off free newspapers for people to sell, in order to keep them from stealing the papers from people's stoops. They ended that program several months ago--lo and behold at the same time our newspapers started disappearing.
I began calling the police and have showed the officers my multiple webcam clips of the thief in action. The first officers who came told me that whenever it happens to call 911 and report a "theft in progress" so they can try to apprehend him. I had avoided confronting the man myself because I don't know whether he might be armed.
When the cops were here again two weekends ago one of them, who grew up in this neighborhood, thought he recognized the thief on my video clips as "T----- K-----" who has lived around here for years and has a criminal past, and said he'd go try to find him and tell him to stop. The officers sped away with lights flashing and never returned, and the next weekend I got my newspaper all 3 days so I thought the problem was resolved. Perhaps they found him and gave him a warning, I'm not sure.
But the following Saturday (yesterday 4/14/12) my newspaper was again stolen. So Sunday morning (today 4/15/12) I got up at 7:00am and was ready for the thief. I saw him coming and threw open my front door as he stepped onto my stoop and bent down to pick up my paper. I told him enough is enough and to stop stealing our newspaper, we have you on video, we've left you notes, we've called the cops, ENOUGH. He stood his ground and said, "I wasn't touchin' nothin'!" which is a lie given that he was on my stoop and bent over grabbing my newspaper.
I closed my door and he moved on down the block. I waited a few seconds and stepped back out to watch and there he was again about to grab one of my neighbor's papers anyway! This guy is brazen. He stopped and turned, saw me watching, hesitated. I called 911 and again reported a theft in progress, as I was told to do by the police. He is a middle-aged/elderly white man, overweight, walks with a distinct waddle, and always wears a dark green baseball cap with a yellow logo on the front.
He started toward me, then changed his mind and walked away. I followed him up the block to the corner where he took a right heading north on 12th. He walked 1 block and sat on someone's stoop. I stood watching him from the corner. He looked up and saw me, got up and kept walking north. He turned right onto Mifflin Street heading east.
I waited on the corner for 10 minutes for the fuzz to arrive so we could finally apprehend this guy and put a stop to it once and for all, and they never showed up. Wonderful.
I guarantee you that right that minute he was stealing newspapers from my neighbors a few blocks over. By not arresting him and by not letting someone press charges the police are letting the problem continue. Maybe he'll stay off of my block now, maybe not, we'll find out next weekend. But if he does, all he's doing is moving on to target someone else's block. I don't like foisting the problem off on my neighbors, I'd like to see it stopped.
He usually strikes between 7:00am and 7:45am on Saturday and Sunday mornings, and then goes out to Broad Street around Snyder Avenue and tries to sell all of his papers. He's cost me $30, $40 and on up at this point. Multiplied times 20 or so neighbors, two days a week over 4 months, and it's beyond petty larceny and probably getting into grand larceny.
We have tried the polite route--left notes for him asking him to stop stealing our papers; verbally accosted him and told him to knock it off. He just doesn't care. Nothing works. If you want to feel sorry for an old man, feel sorry for the elderly delivery guy. He gets only gets 15 cents for every paper he delivers but if someone reports a paper not delivered he gets penalized a whopping $2.00. Enough is enough.
I realize the cops have bigger crimes to fight in this city and this neighborhood, but this seems like an easy one to resolve. They could have it wrapped up in 5 minutes. This guy has stolen hundreds of dollars worth of newspapers and is getting off scott free because the police won't help us do anything about it.
If this is happening to you *please call 911 immediately and report a theft in progress.* There is strength in numbers. You should also email R. Burns, the Inquirer's regional manager, and P. McHugh in the Circulation Dept. at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org . Let them know you've had it. Perhaps the Inquirer will restart the Hawker's program.