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September 27, 2023

At least 20 arrested as crowds loot stores in Center City, the Northeast, West Philly

People involved were mostly teens and the acting police commissioner described them as 'criminal opportunists,' unrelated to people protesting the dismissal of charges against Philly cop Mark Dial

Investigations Looting
Center City Vandalism THOM CARROLL/for PhillyVoice

At least 20 people were arrested Tuesday night after large crowds of mostly teens vandalized and looted stores in Center City and other Philadelphia neighborhoods, police say.

Large groups of mostly teenagers vandalized stores. smashed windows and stole merchandise from businesses in Center City on Tuesday night.  The looting then spread to other neighborhoods in the Northeast and West Philly leading to at least 20 arrests, police said.

At 8 p.m. near 15th and Chestnut streets, groups of people were seen breaking into stores, among them Foot Locker, Lululemon and the Apple Store and taking off with merchandise, police said. The looters robbed and vandalized numerous stores across the city, including 18 different liquor stores, a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board said in a statement. On Wednesday, the PLCB announced that all liquor stores in Philadelphia would remain closed until further notice.

MORE: Charges dropped against Mark Dial, the Philly cop who shot Eddie Irizarry, but D.A.'s Office plans to appeal

Police said that as many as 100 people were involved in the looting downtown and the group was believed to be traveling in a caravan comprised of several cars as they wreaked havoc throughout the city. 

Videos posted to social media show people smashing windows and running down the street with stolen goods as police scrambled to try to apprehend some of them. In one video, police officers can be seen struggling to subdue looters outside of Lululemon while others flee from the shattered storefront. 

In another video, security guards at the Apple Store are seen holding the door shut in an attempt to block looters from entering the store, eventually succumbing to the mob’s determination as people start flooding the store and grabbing iPads, iPhones and other electronics. 

Acting Police Commissioner John Stanford called the people participating in the looting and vandalism  "criminal opportunists" and said they were not related to an earlier protest near City Hall on Tuesday night. Those protesters had gathered in response a municipal judge dismissing all charges against Philadelphia police officer Mark Dial earlier Tuesday. Dial fatally shot Eddie Irizarry during a traffic stop on Aug. 14, and he was charged with first-degree murder and other offenses.

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner said Tuesday that he intends to refile the charges.

Police said the juveniles involved in the looting had organized using social media and that people involved traveled in a caravan of cars to other parts of the city – including Northeast Philly, West Philly and Port Richmond, where additional vandalism and theft was reported. 

In one incident, a stolen Kia crashed into a medical marijuana dispensary in the Wynnefield section of the city smashing the store's front window and damaging its entrance, CBS Philadelphia reported. Other businesses that were targeted by the looters include Patriot Pharmacy in North Philadelphia, GameStop on Aramingo in Port Richmond, a liquor store in Northeast Philadelphia and JD Sports in the Roosevelt Mall. 

Police said no injuries were reported, but they recovered two guns over the course of night.