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Giselle Poveda's Café Tinto was one of many Latino-owned businesses to be robbed in the past month in North Philadelphia. Screenshot: Harrison Brink/AL DÍA News.
Giselle Poveda's Café Tinto was one of many Latino-owned businesses to be robbed in the past month in North Philadelphia. Screenshot: Harrison Brink/AL DÍA News.

Philly Latino biz owners want long-term trust in meeting with city leaders

Following a series of robberies in North Philly, arrests have been made. But business owners hope to build on recent relationships made with police.

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Philadelphia police say they have arrested two men in connection with a string of armed robberies targeting Latino-owned businesses on Feltonville's Wyoming Avenue business corridor. They are still working to identify and charge a third suspect.

Twenty-eight-year-old Omar White-Davis and 20-year-old Acia Moore were arrested on Monday and Thursday of last week, respectively. The men face charges of robbery and firearms offenses. They are accused of conducting 13 separate robberies, some of which occurred just hours apart.

At a virtual meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 14 hosted by Councilmember David Oh and Deputy Commissioner Joel Dales, police said they were able to apprehend the suspects thanks to business owners in the area banding together, video surveillance, and neighbors who called in tips.

Business owners were initially critical of the responses from authorities, complaining of long wait times when calling 911. Police have increased patrols along the business corridor since the robberies were reported. Some business owners suggested the creation of a specialized number they could use in these situations for faster response times.

Giselle Poveda, owner of the Colombian breakfast spot and bakery Café Tinto, said she was thankful for the increased police presence after her business was targeted twice in a matter of days, but she hoped it would be more than a temporary response and instead be the first step in long-term relationship building.

“We would just like to maybe have them come into our store, talk to us so that we know that they’re actually present, because most of the time we’re inside working and we don’t know what’s going on outside,” Poveda said.

For now, the police have sent their community relations officer to educate business owners on ways to boost security such as checking on their cameras and keeping low amounts of cash in their registers.

Police recommended not fighting back in case of an armed robbery. Deputy Commissioner Dales advised business owners to just give the assailants what they want. 

“Do not fight with the suspects. Your life is worth more than that,” Dales said.

“While store owners are within their right to arm themselves, no one wants an innocent person to be injured or a weapon to be used against its owner,” said 25th District Capt. Javier Rodriguez.

Councilmember Maria Quiñones-Sánchez also showed optimism for successful collaboration between the Feltonville business owners and police department, who are continuing to meet as part of an awareness campaign. 

“This is a close-knit, business community, immigrant, small business community, and we wanted to stand with them and let them know that they were not by themselves and that we were here to serve them,” she said. 

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