Philadelphia Police: Uptick in armed robberies and carjackings in University City

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Philadelphia police are asking residents to be on the lookout due to a rise in violent crime in University City.

In the 18th police district, armed robberies were up 20 percent in 2020, and gun arrests are up 40 percent.

Another disturbing trend: police say the people who have been arrested in connection to these recent gunpoint robberies are between the ages of 13 to 19 years old.

Action News was provided nine separate locations pointing to armed robbery and carjackings in the University City area since December 5, 2020.

Captain Matthew Gillespie of the 18th police district held a digital meeting on Friday with neighbors, urging them to be cautious.

"It's just another visible presence that could deter a 13- or 16-year-old from doing something stupid that could change everyone's life," said Captain Gillespie.

The age of these perpetrators is really concerning to police. Investigators say two 13-year-olds and a 16-year-old carried out an armed robbery on the 500 block of South 46th street on January 8 at 6:20 p.m.

Half an hour later, and just four blocks away, police say the same trio held a driver up at gunpoint and stole their car.

"Your safety is paramount. If this happens to you, there is nothing, nothing materialistic that is worth your life," said Captain Gillespie.

Daylight doesn't seem to be a deterrent for the robbers.

"We've seen these incidents as early as 12:30 in the afternoon, broad daylight, or as late as 10 o'clock at night," says Gillespie.

The range of victims varies; police said they have been either walking down the street, walking their dogs, sitting or exiting their parked car, or left their vehicle idling while double-parked.

"We see a lot of people are idling their cars, they've double parked their cars and then someone knocks on their window and carjacks them," said Gillespie.

Pieces of advice given by the local district include: park somewhere well lit, if possible, and don't walk with your phone out or earphones in.

If you are walking alone and would like a University City District escort to walk with you, Call 215-387-3942 and a Public Safety Ambassador will be dispatched. This free service operates from 10 am to 3 am, seven days a week.

If you are a victim, Capt. Gillespie says to report the crime right away and take note of the clothing and height description of the perpetrators. That information is immediately dispatched to officers on patrol.
Copyright © 2021 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.