Police arrest would-be scam artist who ‘note’-ified victims

Po­lice have ar­res­ted a would-be scam artist who they al­lege left nu­mer­ous writ­ten threats on wo­men’s vehicles out­side of de­part­ment stores in the North­east and South Phil­adelphia.

At least six sim­il­ar cases were re­por­ted to po­lice with­in two weeks, in­clud­ing two in the 7th Po­lice Dis­trict, two in the 8th Po­lice Dis­trict and two in South Philly. Three of the cases in­volved Tar­get stores.

Alert se­cur­ity guards at the Tar­get, 1 Miff­lin St., helped po­lice identi­fy and loc­ate the sus­pect out­side of that store on Fri­day.

He was later iden­ti­fied as Paul Tyler, 53, of the 1000 block of W. Le­high Ave.

The first re­por­ted in­cid­ent oc­curred on May 30 at the Tar­get at 11000 Roosevelt Blvd. Ac­cord­ing to Capt. Joe Zaffino, com­mand­er of the 7th dis­trict, a wo­man left the store and found a note on the wind­shield of her car.

The note said that the wo­man should leave her money, cell phone and jew­elry in a bag on the ground be­hind the front driver’s side tire of the car or else her hus­band would be harmed phys­ic­ally. The note fur­ther ordered the wo­man to walk to a dol­lar store at the op­pos­ite end of the ex­pans­ive park­ing lot.

The wo­man, 38, was not with a hus­band at the time. She did not com­ply with the de­mand and took the note in­to the store to re­port it to se­cur­ity. When she re­turned to her car, a second note con­tain­ing sim­il­ar de­mands and threats was on her win­dow. She took the second note in­to the store, where Phil­adelphia po­lice soon ar­rived to in­vest­ig­ate.

The same thing happened to a second wo­man on June 9 at about 10:20 a.m., Zaffino said. The 34-year-old also op­ted not to com­ply with the note-writer’s de­mands and in­stead re­por­ted the in­cid­ent to store se­cur­ity guards, who again no­ti­fied po­lice. Threats were made against the vic­tim’s chil­dren in­stead of her hus­band.

Sim­il­ar crimes also oc­curred on June 5 at Mar­shall’s, 9169 Roosevelt Blvd., and at Dress Barn, 9161 Roosevelt Blvd.

In South Phil­adelphia, the same thing happened to a wo­man at the Miff­lin Street Tar­get store on June 3, then again to an­oth­er wo­man at A.C. Moore, 1851 S. Colum­bus Blvd., on June 6, ac­cord­ing to Of­ficer Christine O’Bri­en of the po­lice de­part­ment’s me­dia re­la­tions unit.

In sev­er­al of the in­cid­ents, park­ing lot se­cur­ity cam­er­as filmed a man ap­proach­ing vic­tims’ un­at­ten­ded cars. Po­lice iden­ti­fied him as the sus­pect.

On Fri­day, guards at the Miff­lin Street Tar­get spot­ted the man seen on the sur­veil­lance foot­age in the store park­ing lot. Po­lice ar­res­ted Tyler nearby a short time later without in­cid­ent.

Tyler al­legedly was in pos­ses­sion of a stack of ad­hes­ive note­pa­pers match­ing those left pre­vi­ously on vic­tims’ cars. A de­mand note had been pre-writ­ten on one of the pa­pers, a po­lice source said.

Tyler has been charged with six counts each of theft by ex­tor­tion and mak­ing ter­ror­ist­ic threats. ••

Re­port­er Wil­li­am Kenny can be reached at 215-354-3031 or bkenny@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at wkenny@bsmphilly.com.

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