Group of teens terrorize local businesses in Roxborough, police say

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Philadelphia police are investigating after small businesses along Ridge Avenue raised concerns about rowdy teenagers disrupting their stores.

Bruce Wynne, the owner of Zesto Pizza and Grill, filed a police report Tuesday after a group of teenage girls allegedly harassed employees and threw merchandise.

Wynne shared the surveillance video exclusively with Action News and explained he has dealt with incidents involving students for years.

"We had a kid come in with a taser one time chasing somebody through the back, there have been a couple of instances just yelling and screaming back and forth," said Wynne.

He explained a group of teenage girls got into a fistfight in front of his store last December and then got hit by a car.

Barbara Cadden, Assistant Manager of Lennie's Hoagies, said she's seen a lot of trouble occur outside her own store.

"Last Thursday there was a young girl across the street, small girl, getting jumped by a group of other individuals and a lot of business owners actually came out to try and stop them from jumping the girl, to try and break it up since there is no police help right now," said Cadden.

Wynne said officials with Roxborough High School met with business owners about a year ago to address the issue.

Zesto now has a sign in the window that says students are only permitted in the restaurant after 5 p.m.

"They pretty much gave us a sign...they just said put that in the window, students will see it. It will make students aware of that sign is in the window, you can't go in there," said Wynne. "And it worked for the first year but then slowly they just stopped caring about it."

A manager at a nearby A Plus Mini Market said students would come in in groups, get into fights with employees and knock items off the shelf.

In the last six months, Philadelphia Police received 39 business disturbance calls between the 6000 and 6200 blocks of Ridge Avenue.

Philadelphia Police Staff Inspector Sekou Kinebrew confirmed a rash of incidents in the last few months along Ridge Avenue. Kinebrew said the Captain of the 5th District is working with businesses to coordinate times and places to dispatch officers.

Officers are also working to identify teenagers in the surveillance video.

A School District of Philadelphia spokesperson told Action News that the district has been aware of the situation. The spokesperson provided a copy of a letter sent to families back in December:

December 19, 2019

Dear Roxborough Families:

This letter is to inform you of an incident involving some of our students that were covered by
several media outlets earlier this week. While the incident occurred off school property and after
school hours, I want to take the time to remind our families about the importance of discussing
safe and appropriate behavior while in our community with your students.

An altercation involving several students on Ridge Avenue occurred on Monday, Dec. 2. Two
students involved were taken to the hospital and later released.

I encourage you to remind your child to walk straight home or to the location where they are
expected after school. If, for some reason, a student does not travel straight home, our
expectation is that they will behave in the community the same way we expect them to behave
while in school.

The consequences for the students involved in the incident were addressed in alignment with
District policy. District staff have also been involved in ongoing conversations with the
Roxborough Business Association about potential solutions to relieve the issues and help ensure
neighborhood safety. In addition, School Police and Philadelphia Police have increased their
presence in the school community at dismissal time to support students and the community.

Thank you again for your support of the students at the Academies @ Roxborough. Please feel
free to contact us if you have any questions or concerns by calling the main office at
215-400-3400.

Sincerely,
Bonnie Uditsky,
Principal
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