(NewsNation) — A recent surge in crime in Philadelphia’s downtown area, mirroring that of many other urban areas around the country, will leave visitors and residents with fewer shopping choices.
In September, a group of youths ransacked a Wawa convenience store in northeast Philadelphia, and that’s led the company to close two of its downtown locations because of safety and security concerns.
That may not be the last closure. Philadelphia Councilman Jim Driscoll told the Philadelphia Business Journal that a Wawa exec told him, “We’re seriously considering moving out of the city of Philadelphia in our strategic planning, or at least not to expand.”
Former FBI agent Jennifer Coffindaffer told NewsNation, “It’s really a sense of complete lawlessness like we’ve never seen before. There’s not enough that they (Wawa) can do to counteract the losses that they’re going to have in terms of money, and in terms of possible harm to their employees.”
Crime has reached epidemic levels in Philadelphia in almost every category, including robbery, assault and theft. So far this year, more than a thousand carjackings have occurred, and on the streets the body count keeps rising.
Wawa isn’t the first company to take its business out of the city. In July, Starbucks also closed one of its downtown locations, saying it was getting too dangerous for employees.
Starbucks has now closed close to 20 stores across the country because of safety concerns.
“And unfortunately, we don’t see the barometer going anyplace but continuing to go right toward lawlessness and toward police having difficulty dealing with these kinds of crimes,” said Coffindaffer.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said it wasn’t a big surprise to hear the two Wawa locations are closing, saying retail operations are always coming and going in a major metropolitan area. He said this should not be an indication that Philly’s downtown district is in trouble because of high crime.
The employees at the two Wawas that are closing are being offered jobs at other store locations.