Philly Flash Mobs

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

What happens when you take the tools of benign, ironic, hipster pranks and give them to a much less benign, much less ironic group? Well, at the Upper Darby Sears, dozens of West Philly “boys” stormed in and ran off with thousands of dollars’ worth of merchandise:

Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood said he believed that the group organized the mass theft through social networking, although the exact networking site was not yet clear.

He said that the kids traveled together on public transportation and arrived at the store on 69th Street en masse about 7:10 p.m.

The kids — Chitwood estimated there were around 40 boys — scattered throughout the store and began to “rob, steal and pillage,” he said.

They took everything from sneakers to watches but left behind the boxes and tags, Chitwood said.

As of this weekend, Sears was still trying to tally up its losses, which were believed to be in the thousands of dollars, police said.

Responding officers were able to capture 16 of the suspects, the youngest of which was 11 and the oldest, 19. The 19-year-old was charged with retail theft and corrupting the morals of a minor.

The other 15, all of whom were juveniles from West Philadelphia, were charged with retail theft and released to the custody of their parents, Chitwood said.

At least a bunch of them got caught.

On Saturday a similar group went on a rampage in Spring Garden, in central Philadelphia, beating people up:

Philadelphia police responded to two reports of pedestrians being assaulted by a large group of young people along Broad Street about 9:30 p.m.

One of those reports came from Emily Guendelsberger, 27, city editor for local arts and entertainment content for the Onion, the satirical newspaper and website. She was walking with seven friends on Green Street near Broad when they were accosted, she said. Guendelsberger, who remained hospitalized with a broken leg yesterday, declined to comment further.

A friend who was with her at the time, Daily News staff writer Molly Eichel, said that they were walking down Green Street when a group of teens was walking down Broad. “We heard kids yell, ‘Run, run,’ ” Eichel said. “Some kid just came out of nowhere and punched my friend Charlie in the face.”

Eichel said that when her group tried to run, about 20 teens chased them down the street. “They were kicking kids down and punching them when they were down,” she said.

Two other friends sought treatment at area hospitals for facial injuries, Eichel said.
Shortly before Guendelsberger’s assault, police said, they responded to another assault, about five blocks away at Broad Street and Fairmount Avenue, of a 20-year-old man who said that he was attacked by a large group of men and women.

Police said that he was treated for a bruise and abrasion under his right eye.

Twitter users said that the mob ranged from 50 to 100 people and that participants not only assaulted people but also threw trash cans and lit fireworks.

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