If you see a couple of unfamiliar faces in the laundry room of your apartment building, don’t assume that the new guys from the unit down the hall are washing their boxers.
Philadelphia police say that a couple of crooks have been breaking into apartment buildings throughout the Northeast and ripping off thousands of dollars from the coin-operated washing machines.
Investigators have logged at least 18 cases since Nov. 28, mostly in the 7th Police District but also in the 8th and 2nd districts. From the criminals’ standpoint, the enterprise is a lot like playing the slots. Sometimes they hit jackpots of $500 or more, all in coins. But other times, they end up with $20 or less, chump change.
On Jan. 4, the thieves stole about $800 from a dozen machines in a building on the 9600 block of Bustleton Ave. Six days later, they got about $650 from two dozen washers in a building on the 10900 block of Bustleton. On Jan. 14, they took much less in change from a building on the 2100 block of Tremont St., but they inflicted several thousand dollars in damages to the machines as they busted open the locked change compartments.
On Jan. 23, the 7th Police District tweeted the warning, “There have been recent thefts from coin operated laundry machines in Apt complexes, Any suspicious activity or info please call 911 promptly.”
That day, the burglars struck on the 1800 block of Rhawn St. and the 8800 block of Krewstown Road.
Detectives believe the same two guys are behind all of the jobs, but they have been careful to conceal their appearances. Surveillance video has been recovered from some of the buildings.
One of the crooks may be a white man, about 6 feet tall and heavyset with a beard. He has been seen wearing a black jacket with fur on it. His accomplice may be a shorter black man. Both tend to wear dark clothing.
Most of the crimes have occurred late at night or during the pre-dawn hours. Police encourage apartment dwellers to make sure that exterior security doors remain locked and closed tightly so that intruders cannot access the building. ••