By Kimberly Davis


PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Just in time for a new school year, there is a growing alert after what has been an alarming spree of robberies. Philadelphia police are on the hunt for two men who have been approaching residents at night either asking for the time or a lighter.

Sources tell Eyewitness News that is just a distraction before the men attempt to make someone their next robbery victim.

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“I’m coming to you today with a public service announcement in regards to a recent trend of strong armed robberies,” the Philadelphia Police Department said in a video released on Monday.

Between 46th Street and Baltimore Avenue — as well as 46th and Market Streets — police say they are seeing an uptick in the amount of strong armed robberies.

Residents say they are on high alert.

“I don’t feel great about it. Definitely not going to tell my mom about this,” Emily Byers said.

She says she usually walks her dog at night and will be taking extra precautions.

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“We do short walks at night. We stay close to home at night, we don’t go too far. Or we go out with someone else. We try not to go out alone,” Byers said.

Police say the robbers are men in their early 20s and they strike anywhere from 9:30 p.m. into the overnight hours.

Other longtime residents say they have adapted to the environment.

“At night, in particular, you’re more conscious when people approach you, and you try to keep lights on outside,” Daniel Deudney said.

Residents say they will continue to stay vigilant as police search for the culprits.

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“We’re grateful for the police and the various policing activities that goes on. People think that’s a big plus, I think, overall,” Deudney said.

Residents tell Eyewitness News the lights are out in the areas where people have been robbed and they are hoping once the bulbs are replaced, the robberies will stop.

Kimberly Davis