Police flooded the area of Frankford Avenue and Aldine Street last week after numerous residents there woke up Feb. 13 to find that their car tires had been slashed.
But despite the police presence, the crooks returned anyway and did about twice as much damage early last Sunday, leaving more than a dozen car owners with thousands of dollars in repair bills.
“Now, we’re putting twenty-four-hour, seven-day coverage out there, which is draining (on police resources). But it’s a quality of life problem and it’s affecting hundreds of people,” Capt. Frank Bachmayer, commander of the 15th Police District, said at an emergency community meeting Monday night.
About a dozen Town Watch members and residents attended the private gathering at the 15th district station. Members of the news media were prevented from sitting in on the session due to the potentially sensitive discussion of police and Town Watch strategy.
Speaking in broad terms outside of the meeting, Bachmayer said that the district will dedicate even more patrols to the neighborhood.
“I have to have a prevention side and an apprehension side of it,” the captain said. “Now, we’re totally in prevention mode. Tonight, I’m trying to explain (to neighbors) what our deployments are going to be and rallying the community to help us get information. I’m talking about how the community can help us solve this problem.”
The most recent episode of tire slashing occurred early Sunday and involved at least 18 vehicles on the 4000 block of Aldine St. and the 4000 block of Teesdale St. The locations are just east of Frankford Avenue and north of Cottman Avenue in Holmesburg.
Cottman Avenue is considered the boundary between Holmesburg and Mayfair.
Six cars were vandalized on Aldine and 12 on Teesdale, according Sgt. Dennis Rosenbaum of Northeast Detectives.
A resident discovered the damage at about 2:15 a.m. when he went outside for some fresh air and heard the hissing of punctured tires, Rosenbaum said. The man quickly spotted the damage to his own vehicle, then walked up the street to find that tires on his wife’s car also had been punctured.
A similar episode occurred on the same block of Aldine Street early on Feb. 13, a Monday, when at least seven cars were vandalized, Rosenbaum said.
The patrol district responded in force to the first incident.
“We had additional patrols (in the area) after the first incident and I went down the street personally at 12:45 a.m. on Sunday morning (Feb. 19) and spoke to officers in the area,” Bachmayer said. “We were a little concerned about the bar crowd letting out and had officers at Frankford and Cottman. They got a call at 2:15 to go to Frankford and Aldine.”
Police detained and questioned three males that morning, but found no evidence linking them to the vandalism.
“Information was sketchy. A cop saw three males (on the street) and they ran. The cop tackled one of them and he had a gun,” Bachmayer said.
Other officers soon nabbed the other two suspects. The alleged gunman was charged with weapons violations but not with the vandalism. The other two males were not charged criminally.
According to Rosenbaum, detectives continue to search for possible witnesses and, ideally, surveillance video from the affected blocks. On Monday afternoon, they handed out fliers appealing for information.
“When we were out there, no one (said they) saw anything,” Rosenbaum said.
Representatives from the Mayfair and Tacony Town Watch groups attended Monday’s meeting, according to Bachmayer. Technically, the Mayfair group covers the west side of Frankford Avenue, while the Tacony group covers south of Cottman Avenue. The crime scenes are within yards of both territories.
In yet another case of automobile vandalism, residents of the 3100, 3200 and 3300 blocks of Knorr Street (just west of Frankford Avenue and five blocks south of Cottman Avenue) awoke on Feb. 4 to discover that about two dozen cars had been damaged with spray paint and an unknown corrosive substance. Police have no evidence that the incident is related to the more recent tire-slashing episodes, Bachmayer said.
Police encouraged residents to call 911 if they see suspicious activity in progress. To report information after the fact, call Northeast Detectives at 215-686-3153. ••EndFragment