Philadelphia police arrested more than 50 people after multiple stores, including Apple, in the Center City area were ransacked Tuesday night following the gathering of a large crowd that, at one point, grew to about 100 young adults and teenagers, authorities said.
The looting began within a half hour after the conclusion of a peaceful protests in downtown Philadelphia over a judge’s decision on Tuesday to dismiss charges against Mark Dial, a former Philadelphia police officer who fatally shot Eddie Irizarry.
The shooting of Irizarry drew national attention after body camera footage contradicted the initial police account, which purported that the 27-year-old lunged at officers with a knife. Charges against Dial were refiled hours after the judge dismissed the case.
Police say looting had 'nothing to do' with the protest
Acting Philadelphia Police Commissioner John Stanford said multiple times during a news conference Tuesday night that the looting "had nothing to do" with the earlier protest.
"What we had tonight was a bunch of criminal opportunists taking advantage of a situation and make an attempt to destroy our city," the commissioner said. "It's not going to be tolerated, we've made arrests and we will continue to make arrests."
As of Wednesday afternoon, 49 adults and three juveniles were arrested by the Philadelphia Police Department in connection with the looting, Philadelphia Police Department spokesperson Shawn Ritchie told USA TODAY in an email.
Stanford, the police commissioner, said during a news conference at least two firearms were recovered during the arrests.
Around 8 p.m., police received multiple 911 calls, and witnessed first-hand, from business owners reporting groups of teenagers running into stores, stuffing bags with merchandise and fleeing.
Stores ransacked include Apple, Lululemon, Footlocker
The protest over the Irizarry decision ended around 7:30 p.m. and many of the officers who were at the demonstration quickly moved to Center City in response to the looting.
The commissioner said police believe the teenagers and young adults who ransacked businesses, including an Apple store, Footlocker and Lululemon, came from different areas around the city.
Police are also investigating a possible "caravan of a number of different vehicles" going from location to location overnight. Several of the individuals among the group were arrested, Stanford said.
Retail group reports increase in thefts; Target closes 9 stores due to 'organized retail crime'
The looting across Philadelphia came hours after the National Retail Federation reported "a dramatic jump in financial losses associated with theft."
“Retailers are seeing unprecedented levels of theft coupled with rampant crime in their stores, and the situation is only becoming more dire," said David Johnston, an NRF spokesman.
The NRF reported sharply higher losses to theft, known as "shrink," in its 2023 National Retail Security Survey. It said "shrink" as a percentage of total retail sales accounted for $112.1 billion in losses in 2022, up from $93.9 billion a year earlier. The average shrink rate rose to 1.6%, up from 1.4% in 2021.
On Tuesday, Target announced the closure of nine stores across New York City, the San Francisco Bay area, Portland and Seattle, citing safety concerns from "theft and organized retail crime."
"We cannot continue operating these stores because theft and organized retail crime are threatening the safety of our team and guests, and contributing to unsustainable business performance," the company said in a press release, adding that, despite investing in security to curb the theft, "we continue to face fundamental challenges to operating these stores safely and successfully."
Contributing: Jim Walsh, Cherry Hill Courier-Post; The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Looting in Philadelphia leads to arrests of more than 50 people