Police District Advisory Council honors four

Hon­or­ing our her­oes: Of­ficers John Hig­gins (left), and Bill Kil­lian (right) are pic­tured with 7th Dis­trict Com­mand­er Capt. Joseph Zaffino. The two were honored after they cap­tured an al­leged seri­al burg­lar. WIL­LI­AM KENNY / TIMES PHOTO

The 7th Po­lice Dis­trict Ad­vis­ory Coun­cil re­cently re­cog­nized four mem­bers of the dis­trict as Of­ficers of the Month for Decem­ber or Janu­ary.

Of­ficers Paul Hartigan and Ern­est Green won Decem­ber hon­ors after they cap­tured a sus­pect who ad­mit­ted to com­mit­ting three armed rob­ber­ies of area busi­nesses, po­lice said.

At 8:30 a.m. on New Year’s Eve, an un­known man entered the Rite Aid Phar­macy on the 7900 block of Castor Ave., told a cash­ier that he had a gun and de­man­ded money. With cash in hand, he ran from the store to­ward Ripley Street, after which wit­nesses saw a red pickup truck leav­ing that block.

One day earli­er, a man fit­ting the same de­scrip­tion com­mit­ted sim­il­ar rob­ber­ies of the Hol­ly­wood Tans on the 2500 block of Welsh Road and the Ex­xon Mini Mart on the 9900 block of Bustleton Ave.

A few hours after the Rite Aid rob­bery, a man fit­ting the same de­scrip­tion entered an­oth­er Hol­ly­wood Tans on the 2100 block of Cottman Ave. The man­ager re­cog­nized him as a sus­pect in the earli­er Welsh Road heist. When the man ex­ited the store, the man­ager noted the de­scrip­tion of his vehicle, a red Ford pickup truck, and took down the li­cense plate num­ber. The man­ager then called po­lice.

Of­ficers traced the plate to one res­id­ence, then learned that the sus­pect was stay­ing at a res­id­ence on the 8800 block of Fair­field St. Po­lice sur­veyed the area and spot­ted the red truck on a nearby street. A short time later, po­lice spot­ted the sus­pect on the street and at­temp­ted to stop him. When he ran, Hartigan and Green caught him in a drive­way be­hind his res­id­ence.

The sus­pect later ad­mit­ted to the three rob­ber­ies, po­lice said.

Of­ficers John Hig­gins and Bill Kil­lian earned the monthly hon­ors for Janu­ary after they cap­tured an al­leged seri­al burg­lar.

On Jan. 22, Kil­lian and Hig­gins were patrolling un­der­cov­er in ci­vil­ian clothes in the area of 700 Welsh Road when they saw a man walk­ing from house to house try­ing to open the doors at each. At one house, a res­id­ent came to the door and spoke to the sus­pect.

After the sus­pect left that house, the of­ficers asked the res­id­ent if he knew the sus­pect and was told he did not.

A short time later, the of­ficers spot­ted the same sus­pect on the 9000 block of Ver­ree Road and stopped him for ques­tion­ing. The of­ficers de­term­ined that the man had an out­stand­ing ar­rest war­rant in Nor­ris­town for nar­cot­ics vi­ol­a­tions. The of­ficers used an on­line data­base to fur­ther in­vest­ig­ate the man and learned he had been linked through a pawn shop to a ring that had been re­por­ted stolen in a burg­lary. The of­ficers trans­ferred the sus­pect to the cus­tody of Mont­gomery County au­thor­it­ies. One day later, Kil­lian and Hig­gins spot­ted the same man on the 600 block of Welsh Road. By that time, de­tect­ives had con­firmed that the man had been linked to the stolen ring, so Kil­lian and Hig­gins ar­res­ted him.

Dur­ing a search, the of­ficers al­legedly found oth­er stolen items in the man’s back­pack. Ul­ti­mately, the man was charged with com­mit­ting five burg­lar­ies in the area.

The com­mand­er of the 7th dis­trict, Capt. Joseph Zaffino, noted that the ar­rest was par­tic­u­larly im­press­ive be­cause the of­ficers ac­ted purely on their own ini­ti­at­ive without the need for 911 calls or oth­er pub­lic no­ti­fic­a­tion. Zaffino re­ferred to the ar­rest as “an out­stand­ing ‘sight’ job,” mean­ing that the of­ficers saw something sus­pi­cious while on patrol and were able to re­solve five open burg­lary in­vest­ig­a­tions.

Zaffino fur­ther re­por­ted dur­ing Janu­ary’s PDAC meet­ing that no murder cases oc­curred in the dis­trict in 2012, des­pite a city­wide murder total of more than 300. Prop­erty crime in the dis­trict in­creased slightly for the year, however. Zaffino in­vited all cit­izens to par­ti­cip­ate in the po­lice de­part­ment’s Op­er­a­tion ID pro­gram. They will be giv­en re­gis­tra­tion stick­ers to af­fix to valu­able pos­ses­sions, such as cell phones, com­puters and oth­er tech devices. If items are stolen, the stick­ers will help po­lice identi­fy the prop­er own­er of the items. If the stick­ers are re­moved, mark­ings will re­main on the items in­dic­at­ing that they may have been stolen. Also, area pawn shops have been in­struc­ted not to pur­chase items af­fixed with stick­ers. ••

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

You can reach at wkenny@bsmphilly.com.

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