Although Philadelphia has seen an overall decrease in crime during the coronavirus outbreak, the Drexel University Police department — which remains a 24/7 resource on campus — says it has identified a pattern of thefts on Drexel’s campus.
Multiple incidents of theft on the Market-Frankford subway line between 30th and 46th streets were reported to Drexel Police by SEPTA, Captain of Investigations Bob Lis said in an email statement.
“There have been five or six incidents [of theft] in the last few weeks, and [they] have been committed by a group of three to four males between the ages of 14 and 18 years old,” Lis said. According to Lis, the juveniles target Market-Frankford Line riders when the trains come to a stop, as well as on the waiting platforms. The number one item stolen: cell phones.
Drexel Police said the thefts have not been at a specific time, but have occurred during daytime hours, between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. The thieves have not been reported using or carrying weapons.
“They are not using any weapons,” Lis confirmed. “But they will ride the train and as [it] is about to stop and the doors open, they will grab the phone or other items from the victim, run from the train and [up] to the street.”
Students should always be aware of their surroundings when riding the subway line, but there are a few things to look out for in particular, Lis said. The males target those standing alone, either riding in the subway car or waiting on the platform, and they will sit very closely next to you if you are in a seat or on the bench.
The best thing riders can do to protect themselves is keep their cell phone out of sight, Lis advised. Riding the subway line with a group will serve as an additional layer of protection against the thefts.
Lis says Drexel Police is working in conjunction with SEPTA to combat this issue, and a few steps have already been taken in the right direction.
“Last week, Drexel Police responded to [an] incident at 34th and Market [streets], and met with the victim, [who] provided a description of the offenders to the SEPTA police via radio,” Lis said. “[This] led to apprehending three individuals, who were arrested for robbery.”
As always, Drexel Police urges those on campus to utilize their department as a resource when needed. Investigators, bicycle patrol officers and community relations officers all remain on duty throughout campus. Building security checks are also conducted regularly.
Students can also request security services — like police escorts — at any time, Lis said. The department can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at (215) 895-2222.