Street thefts discussed at Take Back Your Neighborhood meeting

People should watch out for a few scams that are be­ing worked in the North­east, Di­anne Murphy, the 2nd Po­lice Dis­trict’s com­munity re­la­tions of­ficer, said Sept. 16.

And she also warned res­id­ents that street rob­bers are tar­get­ing people who have smart­phones. A lot of school stu­dents have be­come vic­tims of such crimes. Smart­phones are small items that can yield a lot of cash for those rob­bers, and the best tac­tic is not to take out those phones in pub­lic.

“Don’t let them know you have a phone,” Murphy told mem­bers of the Take Back Your Neigh­bor­hood civic group at their Sept. 16 meet­ing at Max My­ers Re­cre­ation Cen­ter.

Murphy and Lt. Lisa Harner de­scribed a scam in which con artists tell people go­ing in­to loc­al mar­kets that they can quickly do body work on their cars. People re­fuse, but the con men do the jobs any­way while the people are shop­ping and then de­mand pay­ment when the mo­tor­ists come out of the stores.

Two men and two wo­men have been seen work­ing this scam loc­ally. Any­one ap­proached should call 911, Harner said, and give a clear de­scrip­tion of the people who ap­proached them.

An­oth­er game be­ing played in­volves con artists call­ing res­id­ents to ask about re­pair­ing their burg­lar-alarm sys­tems. Of course, any­one who re­sponds, “I don’t have an alarm,” is set­ting him­self or her­self up for burg­lary.

Also vis­it­ing the TBYN ses­sion were state Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-170th dist.) and City Com­mis­sion­er Stephanie Sing­er.

Sing­er, one of three of­fi­cials who over­see Phil­adelphia’s elec­tions, stressed the im­port­ance of vot­ing in the up­com­ing Novem­ber elec­tion. Can­did­ates for dis­trict at­tor­ney and city con­trol­ler are on the bal­lot in what tra­di­tion­ally has been a low-in­terest, low-turnout elec­tion.

Only about 10 per­cent of the city’s mil­lion voters turned out for the spring primary elec­tion, Sing­er told res­id­ents. Make a de­cision to go to the polls, she said, and per­suade your neigh­bors to vote, too.

The com­mis­sion­er also en­cour­aged res­id­ents to get even more in­volved in polit­ics by run­ning for com­mit­tee seats in their home dis­tricts.

Boyle is not run­ning for of­fice this year, but is run­ning for Con­gress in 2014 and last week gave Lower North­east res­id­ents an early pitch for his can­did­acy.

He told the civic group’s mem­bers he is born and raised in Philly and is the only Phil­ade­phia can­did­ate for Allyson Schwartz’s 13th Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict seat. The dis­trict also has a large chunk of Mont­gomery County. Schwartz is not seek­ing re-elec­tion be­cause she is run­ning for her party’s gubernat­ori­al nom­in­a­tion.

Help­ing middle-class fam­il­ies find money for col­lege tu­ition is a chal­lenge he’s try­ing to meet with le­gis­la­tion.

“The hard­est part is not in get­ting in­to col­lege, but in com­ing up with the money to pay for it,” he said. Stu­dent loans, the law­maker said, is the biggest single source of con­sumer debt in the United States.

Jared So­lomon, TBYN pres­id­ent, said many stu­dents take out large loans to pay tu­ition, and the high cost of pay­ing back those loans “com­pletely changes your life de­cisions.”

People have to ad­just plans for buy­ing homes or start­ing fam­il­ies be­cause they are pay­ing back their loans.

Boyle said he looks at what has been work­ing in oth­er jur­is­dic­tions and has modeled some le­gis­la­tion after laws in oth­er states. 

One is to give stu­dents who main­tain 3.0 grade point av­er­ages a break in pay­ing back state tu­ition loans. ••

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