The Lead

As Wawa shutters Center City stores, Philly DA Krasner plays defense

By: - October 18, 2022 10:09 am

District Attorney Larry Krasner (Jared Piper/Philadelphia City Council/City & State Pa.).

By Naiser Warren-Robinson

PHILADELPHIA — District Attorney Larry Krasner has responded to questions related to his office’s retail theft prosecution policy following Wawa’s recent announcement that it plans to close two of its Center City locations.

“For people who are not chronic, repeat, long-term or organized retail thieves of amounts that are not high … we ordinarily start those as summary offenses,” he said Monday during his weekly gun crimes update.

A summary offense is described as “the most minor type of criminal offense in Pennsylvania” where convictions are typically met with fines and defendants are not always expected to step foot in court, according to Community Legal Services of Philadelphia.

A summary offense can result in retail thieves sitting in prison for 90 days, however, the responsibility of charging people with summary offenses falls onto police officers, Krasner said.

“They have the charging function for summaries … and when that case goes to court, we are the ones in the court room prosecuting it,” Krasner said. “That has been available to the Philadelphia Police Department in the past but also available all five years, if there are some police who are not doing it, I don’t know what to tell you.”

Krasner also responded to Wawa’s decision by calling it “another opportunity for entrepreneurship in the city of Philadelphia by people who live here and are going to keep the money here.”

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“Wawa is making its own decisions and obviously we respect that, but the notion that somehow, they are closing all of their stores … or that they are just closing the ones where they have the most criminal reports when that’s not what they’re doing is simply an inaccurate report.”

Recently, city officials such as Mayor Jim Kenney also have responded to Wawa’s decision with a similar tone to Krasner.

Kenney said last week that he doesn’t think that the closings are a “bad omen” for the city and stated that the city continues to have a good relationship with Wawa.

On Monday, Krasner also announced the conviction of a man involved in a nonfatal shooting in March 2021.

According to officials, the shooting occurred on Roosevelt Boulevard after a verbal confrontation between the victim and the defendant. The defendant has been charged with aggravated assault, violations of the uniform firearms act (VUFA) and other related charges.

“We need the message to be very clear to people who are responsible for shootings or who find themselves in any sort of confrontation and think it’s OK to pull a gun … it’s not and if that is how you are going to behave, then expect to be in jail for a very long time.”

Krasner’s update comes following a violent weekend in Philadelphia, in which there were at least a dozen shootings that left over 16 people shot, five critically injured and one dead, according to news reports.

 Naiser Warren-Robinson is a reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this story first appeared.

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