Watch your back and deposit your money in a bank - fast.
That was the message Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood Sr. had for area storeowners yesterday as police announced yet another home invasion in which thieves may have targeted a Delaware County family that owns a business in Philadelphia.
"It seems like a new phenomena, a new criminal enterprise of targeting businesspeople, and they are being targeted at their homes," he said.
Police have identified Alexis Arroyo, 20, of 61st Street near Ludlow, as the alleged getaway driver in the Thursday-night robbery of a Bangladeshi family that owns a dollar store in Southwest Philadelphia.
Chitwood said Arroyo and three males stormed the house on Barrington Road with handguns and a sawed-off 12-gauge shotgun, stealing $3,000, jewelry and credit cards. Arroyo is being held at Delaware County Prison on $100,000 cash bail.
"They didn't just pick them out of the sky," Chitwood said. "We believe they were targeted, and it seems like that is a common practice that is now happening. Business owners, especially in the West Philadelphia area, are being followed, and they're taking them down at their homes."
Philadelphia police arrested Arroyo when she returned to her car at 51st Street and Hazel Avenue. Inside the car, police found the shotgun and ski masks allegedly used in the robbery, Chitwood said.
Chitwood said police were searching for the three men involved.
"Trust me, we'll get them all," he said.
It was unknown yesterday if Thursday's home invasion was tied to a string of similar cases, Chitwood said. Last week, police announced the arrests of five men connected to at least 10 robberies in Southwest Philly and Delaware County, including several in which Asian storeowners had been followed home.
Cops say the thieves could be targeting immigrant business owners, believing that they are less likely to deposit their profits in a bank.
Chitwood said any shopkeepers who drive home with thousands of dollars in cash are "leaving themselves vulnerable."
"People got to start putting money in banks right away," he said, adding that business owners should check their rear-view mirror often and dial 9-1-1 if they feel they're being tailed. *