Couple charged in Philadelphia robbery spree, shooting

This surveillance image shows the suspects in the Sept. 23 robbery of a nail salon on Girard Avenue.
Philadelphia Police Department

A couple initially arrested in connection with holding up a pair of nail salons and shooting a technician has been tied to three other robberies across Philadelphia, prosecutors said Monday.

Christina Kolenda, 36, and her boyfriend, 32-year-old Maurice Allen, dressed in female Islamic clothing in an attempt to conceal their identities during most of the robberies, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

Both have been in custody since late September, while investigators linked them to additional incidents.

Kolenda and Allen are set to be charged with multiple counts of robbery, aggravated assault, simple assault and related crimes, authorities said. The pair’s legal representation did not respond Monday to a request for comment.

“These are crimes against workers,” DA Larry Krasner said Monday at a news conference. “They’re crimes against people who stand behind counters or work in small businesses, for the most part. They are crimes against those businesses and owners of those businesses.”

Maurice AllenPhiladelphia Police
Christina KolendaPhiladelphia Police

On Sept. 23, at around 4:30 p.m., two gun-toting suspects entered Happy Family Nail Salon on the 1100 block of W. Girard Avenue in North Philadelphia, police said. They ordered employees to the ground and stuffed cash in an orange bag.

Three hours later, a pair of suspects in the same clothing robbed Nails in the City on the 2400 block of Aramingo Avenue in Port Richmond. A 43-year-old technician tried chasing them out the building, and they shot her twice in the leg, according to police.

Assistant District Attorney Fernanda Sandoval said the employee continues to require crutches to walk, adding, “She is still recovering, and she has not been able to return to work.”

Police released surveillance footage of the robberies later in September.

Using security camera video, detectives were able to get the license plate number of the get-away vehicle and link it to Kolenda, Sandoval said. Then, after getting a search warrant for her car and phone, they were led to Allen, she told reporters.

A search of the couple’s residence turned up a .40 caliber handgun that matched fired cartridge casings from the Aramingo Avenue shooting, along with Muslim garments, according to the DAO.

Investigators utilized cell phone data, including location information, to tie Kolenda and Allen to an Aug. 21 robbery at C&C Creamery on Ridge Avenue in Roxborough and an Aug. 28 hold-up of a Dunkin’ Donuts on Rising Sun Avenue in Olney, Sandoval said.

In both cases, Kolenda served as the get-away driver, according to prosecutors.

This graphic, from the District Attorney’s Office, shows where the robberies occurred.District Attorney’s Office

Tips from the community, along with a suspect description, allowed the DAO to charge Allen in the attempted robbery of a 32-year-old pregnant woman Aug. 11 on the 1900 block of Bainbridge Street in Graduate Hospital, Sandoval said.

The crime, which occurred just before 12:45 p.m., was interrupted when a driver pulled over to help the woman, scaring the suspects away, police said.

Krasner said his office is still looking into whether Allen and Kolenda were involved in any other robberies.

In addition to the other charges, Allen is expected to face counts related to firearm violations. He served time in prison after pleading guilty to illegally carrying a gun in 2016 and was also sentenced to 10 years of probation, according to court records.