Police search for suspects in religious store robbery

PHILADELPHIA - December 18, 2013

It happened at the Saint Judes Religious store on Cottman Avenue near Frankford Avenue around 5:00 p.m. Tuesday.

Officials say the store has been hit multiple times, but this time a witness actually saw the two robbers wrapping scarves around their heads in the Cottman and Bustleton Shopping Center before they walked into the store to rob it.

Religious stores are usually busy during the Christmas season, but Philadelphia Police say that didn't stop two men from committing robbery inside the St. Jude Religious Store.

"It is supposed to be a season of being there for other people and all. It's just crazy," said Devon James.

20-year-old employee Devon James left the Cottman Avenue store around 5:00 p.m. Tuesday to grab a bottle of water from a nearby PathMark.

She returned through the back door to find the robbers standing over her 62-year-old coworker at the cash register. The woman was tied up with plastic bags.

"It kind of just hit me right away what was happening, and they turned around and saw me, and they yelled, 'There is someone in the back,'" said James.

James reacted and made the quick decision to run back to the PathMark where she called 911.

Police say the suspects got away with nearly $500.

The coworker wasn't physically harmed, but she was definitely shaken up.

"She said the whole time she was thinking, 'I hope that Devon doesn't come back in.' The whole time she was thinking about me," said James. "She's very sweet, and I'm very upset it happened to her."

A manager says this is actually the fourth time this year the religious store has been robbed and it's been hit in previous years.

James, who has been surrounded by family and friends, can't stop wondering what kind of person would run past religious statues and depictions of Jesus Christ to steal.

"Maybe they needed the money for gifts or something, but they just don't think about the lives their affecting. It's ridiculous," she said.

Police went business-to-business looking for surveillance. They are expecting to get video from St. Jude in next day or two.

Investigators say the two thieves were young, possibly between the ages of 16 and 20. One wore a black Phillies cap; the other a brown hat.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Philadelphia Police.

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