Generally speaking, Fox Chase may be considered among the safest neighborhoods in the Northeast, if not the entire city. But it has been anything but crime-free of late, according to local police.
Speaking at the bimonthly meeting of the Fox Chase Homeowners Association and Fox Chase Town Watch, Officer Rich Simon, the community relations officer for the 7th Police District, reported that at least seven robberies — including several involving guns — have occurred in the neighborhood and surrounding areas in recent weeks.
Fox Chase is part of Police Service Area 1 in the 7th district. That sector stretches from Rhawn Street north to Bloomfield Avenue and from Roosevelt Boulevard west to the Montgomery County line.
On Aug. 2, someone robbed the Wawa store at Rhawn and the Boulevard in Rhawnhurst. On Aug. 27, a bank robbery occurred at Rhawn Street and Verree Road in Fox Chase. During the crime, the crook pointed a gun at a teller and made off with $10,000.
On Sept. 5, an armed robber targeted a taxi driver on the 500 block of Solly Ave. One day later, a motorist reported a carjacking on the 2300 block of Hoffnagle St., while a second robbery was reported on the 1700 block of Hoffnagle, Simon said. Both locations are considered part of Rhawnhurst.
Two more gunpoint robberies occurred on Sept. 10 on the 2000 block of Solly Ave. in Rhawnhurst and on Sept. 11 at Rhawn and Verree, back in Fox Chase.
Community relations officer Mark Mroz, of the neighboring 2nd Police District, further told residents at the civic meeting that police had arrested one male in connection with several recent commercial robberies.
Police released surveillance photos of the then-unknown suspect on Sept. 14. One day later, they received a tip identifying the alleged robber as 18-year-old William Brown of the 3600 block of Rhawn St. Officers arrested the suspect near Cottman and Bustleton avenues on Sept. 15.
Brown has been charged with robbing the Grace Dollar Store at 6900 Bustleton Ave. on Sept. 10 and is a suspect in the robbery of the Rong Nail Salon at 7105 Bustleton Ave. on Sept. 12, as well as the robbery of the Asia Express Restaurant at 7246 Castor Ave. on Sept. 13.
Police also arrested a 14-year-old boy as an accomplice in the Sept. 10 crime. The youth allegedly served as a lookout.
In addition to those violent crimes, both police districts have been affected by a citywide increase in burglaries. In many cases, burglars have been gaining access to homes through unlocked doors and windows. Residents who use window-unit air-conditioners should be aware that the units can create security vulnerability for a home.
Air-conditioners should be installed securely with screws or bolts so that they cannot be removed quickly and easily, Mroz said.
Residents can further beef up home security by installing outdoor lighting with motion sensors, as well as alarm systems.
“Statistically, (burglars) won’t stay in the house very long. But if you don’t have an alarm system, they’re going to stay there all day,” Mroz said.
Residents should avoid having privacy fences or tall shrubs around their properties. Burglars like to take advantage of the cover.
In Fox Chase zoning news, the homeowners association’s zoning chairman, Craig Turner, reported that the Medical Mission Sisters at Pine Road and Strahle Street has scrapped a plan to build an adult day-care facility on its sprawling campus. The city’s Zoning Board of Adjustment rejected the sisters’ appeal for a variance, although the civic association had given its consent to the project.
The sisters still plan to build 61 older-adult homes on their property. A construction schedule has not been announced.
Meanwhile, Fox Chase Town Watch president Steve Phillips reported that his group has begun a concerted effort to remove cardboard signs that have been posted on many utility poles around the neighborhood.
Typically, the signs advertise businesses that want to buy junk cars or residential properties. Other signs promote moving or handyman businesses. Under city law, businesses that wish to post signs on public property must first get approval from the Department of Licenses and Inspections. Approved signs will have an L&I sticker affixed to them.
The Town Watch has documented almost 700 illegal signs, all of which members have removed and reported to the city. It is not known if sanctions have been imposed against the violators. ••
The next Fox Chase Homeowners Association and Fox Chase Town Watch meeting will be at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 9, at American Legion Post 366, 7976 Oxford Ave.
Reporter William Kenny can be reached at 215-354-3031 or firstname.lastname@example.org