Roving gang prowls Broad Street line

PHILADELPHIA - January 15, 2008 This group of Broad Street bullies is a wolf pack that's riding the rails of the Broad Street subway, especially between the Erie and Olney stops, and separating commuters from their cell phones, iPods and whatever small electronics they can get their hands on.

Tonight, undercover officers are riding the Broad Street line. There is extra police presence at the street level. As police put it, these bullies operate with a little bit of force and a lot of intimidation.

Underground, inside the subway cars on the Broad Street line between Erie and Olney. This is where police say the gangs of bullies, mostly girls, are targeting young subway passengers on their way home from school.

Inspector Joseph Sullivan tells Action News, "Yesterday, between the hours of 4 and 6 p.m. At least 4 juveniles were victims of strong armed robberies."

One 14-year-old, who asked us not to show her face, is one of the four young people robbed yesterday by the gang of as many as 20 thugs, just juveniles themselves.

The victim tells us, "It was a scary thing. What was scary for me is that it was my first time it never happened to me before."

She was inside the subway car when one girl grabbed her iPod and the others took her transit pass, pocketbook and cell phone then took off. Today she was too afraid to take the subway home from school.

The other three victims, all teenagers, were robbed of cell phones, purses, iPods and other items. Today, police showed a strong presence on the Broad Street line. The young suspects are described as aggressive, quick, and, police say their attacks are becoming more frequent.

"We think this unruly behavior has been escalating over the last week or so and now it's reached a crescendo. It's gotten into criminal behavior," said Inspector Sullivan

Police say the suspects operate on both the north and southbound sides, jumping from local to express trains and striking when the doors close. SEPTA is working with the police department to beef up patrols. They are checking to see if there is any surveillance video.

Fortunately, no one's been hurt.

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