Delaware County police chief says some Philadelphia residents are heading to the suburbs to steal

Beccah Hendrickson Image
Thursday, November 9, 2023
Delco police chief says Philly residents head to suburbs to steal
Delaware County police chief says Philadelphia residents are heading to the suburbs to steal

MARPLE TWP., Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- A Delaware County police chief is placing some blame on Philadelphia policies for an uptick of retail thefts in the suburbs.

Marple Township police officials say officers made 22 arrests in October for retail theft and 17 of the suspects were from Philadelphia.

The thefts happened at stores including Walmart, Home Depot and Burlington Coat Factory and resulted in thousands of dollars of stolen merchandise.

SEE ALSO: 2 brothers arrested for operating organized retail theft ring in Pennsylvania

"We can't prevent it, I understand that, but you better believe we're gonna do everything we can to curb it," said Chief Brandon Graeff, who says the suspects from Philadelphia specifically told officers they came to the suburbs to commit crime.

"They tell us everything is locked down in Philadelphia in the stores. Word on the street is, it's easier to come out to the suburbs and steal," he said. "They do express shock and disbelief that they're actually getting arrested."

In Philadelphia, the district attorney's office has a policy that most thefts under $500 are knocked down to a summary offense. However, the office says it prosecutes nearly every case when police make an arrest and establish probable cause.

The Marple Township police chief says there are a couple of other factors at play too, including some stores following policies that advise employers not to interfere with crime.

Haverford Township police are seeing a similar trend.

SEE ALSO: Haverford Twp. police report 161% rise in retail thefts, and other towns are having similar issues

"When you're allowing thieves to walk out of a store, you have it on camera, but you're not doing anything to stop it," said Chief John Viola.

The National Retail Federation says the industry saw $112 billion in loss related to theft and retailers are starting to lock up products, limit hours and close specific locations as a response.

"I hate it, I mean you got to have a person standing there all day opening the plastic shelves up," said Jack Wyant from Broomall.

The Delaware County District Attorney's Office has either warrants or hearings scheduled for all but three of the Marple Township cases.