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String of Vandalisms Continues in Northeast Philadelphia

More than half a dozen businesses in the northeastern part of the city were broken into this week. Police say the acts of vandalism were carried out by opportunists looking to capitalize on the dismissal charges against Mark Dial.

Another round of vandalism hit Philadelphia, as more than half a dozen businesses in the Northeast — including three Fine Wine & Good Spirits locations and a beauty supply store — were broken into early Thursday morning.

Police made 18 arrests in connection with this round of overnight burglaries, which also included an Auto Zone, Walgreens, two Family Dollars, and the sneaker store Fedi Way, among others.

The incidents followed a string of break-ins across Center City, West, and Northeast Philadelphia that police say were carried out by “criminal opportunists” looking to capitalize off the dismissal of charges against Mark Dial, the former Philadelphia police officer who shot and killed Eddie Irizarry last month.

Nat’s Beauty Supply, located on Frankford Avenue in Mayfair, was broken into just before 1 a.m. Thursday. Store surveillance footage shows a group of women busting through the glass front door before indiscriminately pulling hair extensions and wigs off the shelves.

“I don’t know what to do or who to call .... I’m heartbroken,” said owner Claudia Silmeas, who opened Nat’s Beauty Supply only five months ago. “I was working six, seven days a week, mornings ... nights, overnight so I could save up to open this store, and now this happened.”

Silmeas has yet to determine the full extent of the damage, but reckoned she likely lost “thousands of dollars” in inventory.

The Fine Wine & Good Spirits on Adams Avenue in Olney was broken into 30 minutes later, when thieves shattered the windows before clearing out the shelves, leaving trails of broken glass in aisles.

The break-in occurred after the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board — which oversees the state’s liquor stores — elected Wednesday to indefinitely close all Philadelphia Fine Wine & Good Spirits locations. At least 18 of their stores were targeted during the initial round of mass theft Tuesday night. Most stores will reopen at 11 a.m. Thursday, while nine will remain closed to clean up damage and beef up security.

F ifty-two p eople were arrested on burglary and theft charges in connection with the string of coordinated break-ins that kicked off Tuesday evening with the Apple Store and Lululemon locations in Center City before spreading to stores along Aramingo Avenue in Northeast Philadelphia and 52nd Street in West Philadelphia.

The burglaries began after a peaceful protest coordinated by Irizarry’s family to condemn Municipal Court Judge Wendy L. Pew’s decision to dismiss all charges against Dial had ended outside City Hall.

Interim Police Commissioner John Stanford has reiterated that the protest was not connected to the unrest. The break-ins, rather, were coordinated via social media by groups of young people who were “taking advantage of a situation” and trying “to destroy our city,” Stanford said at a news conference Tuesday night.

Dayjia Blackwell — a 21-year-old social media influencer who goes by “Meatball” — livestreamed much of the night to her more than 185,000 Instagram followers, unveiling how the group drove from Center City to Port Richmond and the Roosevelt Mall to carry out a series of break-ins before being arrested on camera.

Some businesses around the city have opted to begin closing early, regardless of if their neighborhoods were impacted by the unrest.

Vandalism and thievery are “not going to bring justice to my family or bring my nephew back,” Irizarry’s aunt Zoraida Garcia said Wednesday, urging those angry with the verdict to “come to the court instead of the tearing the city.”

“Let’s do this the right way,” Garcia said.

©2023 The Philadelphia Inquirer, LLC. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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