Philadelphia Criminal Law News

Smile! Local Thieves Caught on Pharmacy Security Cameras

It's holiday season right now. Apparently, it's also theft season in and around Philadelphia.

There have been several cases of theft in the past few weeks in the Delaware Valley, many of which were caught on tape. Police are asking for the public's help in identifying the alleged culprits.

In one incident on Dec. 15, a man in North Philadelphia grabbed another man's cell phone and then pulled a gun on the victim after he gave chase. The alleged robber was caught on camera at a local Rite Aid pharmacy prior to accosting the man, Action News reports.

Police are asking anyone with information about this robbery to call (215) 686-TIPS.

In a separate incident, also caught on a pharmacy's surveillance camera, police are searching for two women in New Castle, Delaware. The women were allegedly shoving cosmetics into their pockets and bags at a local Walgreens when they were approached by a store employee. They then allegedly began throwing things at the employee and fled, according to Action News.

While both cases were caught on pharmacy cameras, that's where their similarities end. Robbery and theft aren't the same thing -- at least not from a legal standpoint.

Both terms are often used interchangeably by the uninitiated. But robbery involves a theft with the use of force, or the threat of the use of force.

So while the stealing of the man's cell phone initially might have been theft, the use of the gun during the chase turned the incident into an alleged armed robbery. Compare that to the alleged Walgreens theft, which did not include the use of force.

The difference may seem slight, but not when it comes to penalties and sentencing. Stealing cosmetics from a pharmacy likely won't amount to much more than a shoplifting charge. But a felony charge of robbery with a gun will no doubt come with far more serious consequences.

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