Police now booking burglary, theft suspects again

Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said that officers will be booking suspects accused of burglary, theft and stealing cars in the traditional matter. Previously, those suspected of nonviolent offenses were issued an arrest warrant in an effort to prevent crowding as COVID-19 cases soared. 
PHOTO: Jack Tomczuk

A spike in commercial burglaries and shoplifting incidents has prompted the Philadelphia Police Department to roll back arresting protocols established last month to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw announced Friday that officers will now be booking suspects accused of burglary, theft and stealing cars in the traditional matter.

Since mid-March, those suspected of nonviolent offenses were typically finger-printed and issued an arrest warrant, rather than brought to a station for paperwork and a mugshot. The change was made to better deploy resources and prevent crowding, Outlaw said at the time.

Recently, police have noticed an uptick in retail theft as well as burglaries committed by the same offenders, the department said in a statement.

“At the time of the change, the department was clear in that the list of offenses was subject to review and revision as conditions continued to evolve,” Outlaw said in a statement. “Predictably, conditions have, in fact, evolved in dynamic fashion. Accordingly, we have reviewed our current protocols and have made several adjustments.”

The department said it has the capacity to handle processing more suspects.

Burglaries targeting businesses are up nearly 46 percent since March 30, and retail theft is up about 36 percent compared to this time last year, according to the most recently released police data.

Meanwhile, Philadelphia reported 327 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, bringing the city’s total to 15,854 since the start of the outbreak. In the city’s jail system, 43 inmates are currently battling the disease.

The city’s COVID-19 death toll rose to 727, with 22 additional fatalities reported Sunday. More than half of those who have died lived in long-term care facilities.

Statewide, 49,267 people have been infected with the virus, and 2,444 have died. More than 191,000 people in Pennsylvania have tested negative.

Officials said 973 patients with COVID-19 are hospitalized in the city, and a total of 1,787 are being treated at medical centers in southeastern Pennsylvania.

In other coronavirus-related news, the city recently launched a website where residents can more easily find free food distribution sites.

There are 40 city-run sites that give out food boxes; 83 locations distributing student meals; 23 centers handing out senior meals; and three temporary outdoor meal sites.

The website features an interactive map and is available in six languages. Go to phila.gov/food for more information.

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