On the 52nd Street shopping district in West Philadelphia on Thursday, Tedd Hall surveyed the damage to his clothing store. Compared to some neighboring shopkeepers, he got off lightly — just a broken upstairs window and a ripped storefront awning.
“I’m African American,” Hall, 84, said. “I’m just disappointed at the behavior of my people and our children. They’re out of control.”
On Aramingo Avenue in Port Richmond, Trevor Young, owner of Aramingo Beverage, was also peeved as his employees cleaned up and restocked.
“They didn’t take a crazy amount, but they took a good amount of it," Young said. “If I wasn’t there guarding my store, nothing would be left.”
And in Lower Merion, police were investigating break-ins at Lord & Taylor and Foot Locker on City Avenue. The police superintendent, Michael McGrath, said they weren’t spur-of-the moment crimes. A group of people had planned the burglaries on social media earlier Wednesday before pulling up in cars with their license plates obscured by plastic bags.
“This was a coordinated thing,” McGrath said.
Across Philadelphia and even across the border into Bala Cynwyd, merchants worked Thursday to restore order to their shops, total the cost in property damage and stolen merchandise, and, if they had coverage, call their insurance agents.
While the looting that broke up this week after police shot and killed Walter Wallace Jr. on Monday night in West Philadelphia was less widespread than an outbreak earlier this year, some business zones were hit hard, most notably the area in Port Richmond around the big-box stores on Aramingo Avenue.
Young, of Aramingo Beverage, said looters tore away the metal gate protecting his storefront on Tuesday night, taking beer, cash, and lottery tickets. People began breaking in around 8 p.m. Tuesday and doubled back to take more merchandise at 2 a.m.
They took “pretty much anything they could get,” he said.
Young had been in the store, which deterred some thieves, but he couldn’t stop it all.
Nearby, a stretch of businesses ranging from an AutoZone to a Pretzel Factory had boarded up their doors. AutoZone further guarded the store by parking two large vans in front of the entrance.
Close by, at the Imperial Plaza strip mall, most stores had boarded up as well — a grim backdrop to a parking lot full of debris. A shredded box for an 86-inch flat screen TV lay on the asphalt, with a cracked screen visible underneath.
Across town, clothing store owner Hall said looters had failed to get into his store, Babe, on the 100 block of South 52nd Street. Some had sought to break past his metal gate shielding his storefront, but neighborhood men had chased them off.
Still, he said, someone had apparently thrown a rock at the second story of his building, leaving a long crack in the glass and a large hole in the tan awning just beneath it. Still, it wasn’t nearly as bad as what happened in the summer, when he said vandals cracked another window so badly he had to replace it.
Hall said the thefts and break-ins had slowed the pace of his business, worrying him. He said he hoped to retire in five years, but now had concerns that he won’t have the money to do so.
“Coupled with COVID-19,” he said, “it makes it very, very difficult.”
A few storefronts down, Q&S Discount Beauty was boarded up entirely after a break-in Tuesday.
”They put innocent people at risk," he said of the thieves.
He said he was weary of a cycle of damage, help from insurers, and a reopening. “You can’t get keeping going down this road,” he said.
Overnight Philadelphia police reported 40 arrests, including 29 for burglary.
In the Lower Merion attacks, a group of people used a tire iron to shatter the entrance to the Lord & Taylor department at about 1 p.m. Wednesday, shortly after they had done the same to a Foot Locker around the corner.
McGrath, the police superintendent, said his force had arrested a man and woman, but did not name them, saying their paperwork remained incomplete Thursday. He said they would likely be charged with burglary.
A security guard near the Lord & Taylor spotted the group soon after they had smashed the entrance to the store and prevented them from going inside, McGrath said. The group was also found at the Foot Locker. There, they managed to scoop up some shoes, but authorities stopped them and recovered everything.
On a rainy Thursday morning, workers were already replacing the broken glass at Lord & Taylor, which was dark inside with no customers. Some parts of the entrance were covered with wood panels. The parking lot was almost empty.
Foot Locker, meanwhile, had been entirely boarded up.