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Reading Police Warn of Holdups Targeting Small Businesses

December 2016 ended with a crime spree in northeast Reading. Three small businesses — San Francisco Deli in the 700 block of North 13th Street, M&M Multi Service on North Ninth Street, and Amanda Grocery on Buttonwood Street — were robbed by a masked gunman. According to WFMZ TV, the robber was described in two cases as “a Hispanic man wearing a hood and a black mask” and in one case as “a chubbier guy with a beard and a thick mustache.” Given the descriptions and the close geographic proximity of the robberies, Capt. Matthew Shappell of the Reading Police Department believes “at least two of them are related.” Surveillance video captured images of the robber at the San Francisco Deli.

The spoils in this crime spree certainly reinforce the old adage that “crime doesn’t pay.” In the M&M robbery, the thief reportedly took about $250 from two women, but in the Deli robbery, he only came away with $60. The thief aborted the Amanda Grocery robbery, fleeing after an employee reached for something under the counter. That’s not much of a haul, considering what the thief is risking if convicted of either of these charges:

  • Armed robbery — First-degree felony, punishable by up to 20 years in prison
  • Carrying a concealed gun without a permit — Third-degree felony, with a possible sentence of up to seven years in prison

If a robbery goes bad and a person is killed during the commission of the crime, the felony murder rule applies and the defendant is charged with second-degree murder. This is the case even if the police accidentally kill a bystander while trying to thwart the crime. The mandatory penalty is life in prison without parole. Given how far the risks outweigh any possible reward, the robber or robbers should stop this reckless activity immediately.

Police in Reading will undoubtedly respond to this criminal activity with increased vigilance. While this is generally a positive for the community, it can also lead to the arrest and prosecution of innocent individuals who bear a resemblance to the perpetrator. If this happens to you, don’t rely on your belief in your innocence to see you through. Consult a skilled criminal defense attorney immediately.

David R. Eshelman defends individuals accused of felony crimes in the Reading area. If you are charged with a crime, protect your rights by meeting with criminal defense attorney David R. Eshelman today.


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