Wawa announced it is closing several stores overnight in suburban Philadelphia because of skyrocketing crime in the city.
The gas station and convenience store chain plans to close overnight at a total of nine stores in Northeast Philadelphia and the Bucks County suburbs, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The stores will be closed from midnight to 5 a.m. until further notice. The decision to close the stores comes after two stores were robbed earlier this week, and as Wawa reportedly mulls pulling out of Philadelphia altogether because of the crime problem.
A company spokesperson would not list all the stores that would be affected, due to ongoing investigations by law enforcement. “What we can say is at times we may temporarily close or limit hours due to external challenges or recommendations by local authorities for the safety and security of our associates and customers,” the spokesperson told the Inquirer.
Two of the stores that will begin shutting their doors are in Northeast Philadelphia. The others are all located in the Bucks County suburbs: two of them are in Bensalem, which directly borders the city; four are located in the town of Feasterville-Trevose, and one is located in nearby Holland.
The closures come after two of the stores were robbed earlier this week. On Monday, the Wawa on the corner of Street Road and Bustleton in Feasterville-Trevose was robbed by an armed man at around 2 a.m. Then on Tuesday morning at around 3 a.m., the Holland location was robbed. Local police believe the same suspect is responsible for both robberies.
Wawa has a presence on much of the East Coast, with locations in seven states, but it is headquartered in Pennsylvania, and is a cultural cornerstone in the Philadelphia area. But the chain is reportedly considering moving out of the area altogether as crime continues to soar in the city. Last month, a mob of more than 100 teenagers ransacked a store in Northeast Philadelphia; a video of the incident went viral, showing the teens milling through the store and taking merchandise while a customer asks the staff, “Are y’all gonna make any sandwiches? Or are y’all just going to keep recording?”
That incident, combined with an uptick in crime across the city, forced the chain to close two of its stores in Center City, the central neighborhood and business district of Philadelphia. “Despite reducing hours and investing in additional operational measures, continued safety and security challenges and business factors have made it increasingly difficult to remain open in these two locations,” Wawa spokeswoman Lori Bruce told the Philadelphia Inquirer.
In addition to closing down stores at night and permanently shuttering others, Philadelphia City Councilmember Mike Driscoll said last week that the chain is considering pulling out of the city altogether because of crime.
“They’ve had to invest in security … security doesn’t add anything to your bottom line, it takes away from your bottom line,” Driscoll said. “But without it, then you’re in deep trouble. So they are spending money, they’re losing money. The scariest part to me is one of the senior officials said, ‘We’re seriously considering moving out of the city of Philadelphia in our strategic planning, at least not to expand.’”