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Philadelphia chain Wawa ‘seriously considering’ halting expansion after viral riot video: councilman

Wawa, a beloved Philadelphia-area convenience store, might nix plans to expand in the city after one location was ransacked by dozens of looters last month, according to a Philadelphia councilman. 

“They’ve had to invest in security, and those of you that have these office buildings [know that] security doesn’t add anything to your bottom line, it takes away from your bottom line. But without it, then you’re in deep trouble. So they are spending money, they’re losing money,” Philadelphia Democratic Councilmember Mike Driscoll said Tuesday at a town hall-style forum hosted by the Philadelphia Real Estate Alliance. 

“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,'” Driscoll added, according to the Philadelphia Business Journal. 

A Wawa location in Philadelphia’s Mayfair neighborhood was ransacked by up to 100 youths last month, in a video that quickly went viral. 

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“It was approximately 50 to 100 people,” Philadelphia Police Captain John J. Ryan said following the September 24 incident. “The Wawa was completely sacked by the kids coming inside and destroying things, and thankfully there were no injuries to the Wawa, personnel, or to responding police.” 

Youths seen filing into a Philadelphia Wawa before it's ransacked

Wawa, founded in 1964, is headquartered in Chester Heights, which sits just outside of Philadelphia. The convenience store chain has grown a cult following, not only in the city, but in other states up and down the East Coast as it expanded in recent years. 

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Screen shot shows dozens of people ransacking a Philly Wawa location in September

“If we have a Pennsylvania company that doesn’t feel that the city of Philadelphia is worthy of their investments, we have a big problem on our hands,” Driscoll told the panel. 

Wawa has closed other Philly locations over the last few years, including one on South Broad Street in 2020 “due to the unique circumstances that continue to impact our customers’ daily lives and our own store operations” during the pandemic, a store spokesperson said at the time. The landmark store had also been the site of a stabbing back in 2018, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported. 

This year, a handful of Wawa locations in Center City closed early in response to groups of youths ransacking convenience stores in the area. 

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“Wawa has invested a lot of money, as you know, into the city,” Driscoll added in his remarks. “Welcome America is sponsored by Wawa. They’ve already closed two Center City locations that they spent millions and millions of dollars on because of the lawlessness that was going on in their stores.”

Photo of exterior Wawa at night with sign lit up

Wawa did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment Thursday morning. 

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Crime has spiked in Philadelphia this year. The city recorded an all-time high of more than 1,000 carjackings so far this year, and homicides have continued to plague the city after 2021 notched a historical 561 homicides. 

Store owners in the city sounded the alarm back in May of this year that convenience stores were “closing left and right” in response to an increase in brazen shoplifting incidents.

“Right now we have a lot of problems with the city of Philadelphia. We are closing left and right,” Manzoor Chughtai, the president of the Franchise Owners Association, said at the time. “Robbers are coming in, they’re just robbing the place left and right.”

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