Philadelphia retail theft bust: 9-year-old among juveniles recruited by ring leader

Police have vowed to put a stop to a group of brazen thieves responsible for a recent spate of high-end retail theft plaguing stores in Philadelphia, King of Prussia Mall and surrounding counties.

The large "crew" consists of at least nine suspects who carried out at least 20 grab-and-go thefts beginning in November of last year, according to authorities.

However, their latest attempt on May 30 at Lululemon on Walnut Street ended with two arrests.

Janiyah Robinson, 19, and Ayonna Robinson, 24, were taken into custody after trying to flee from police.

Police identified Janiyah as the crew's leader, stating that she would recruit juveniles without records, promising them money in return. One of those juvenile recruits was a 9-year-old girl.

"Absolutely unbelievable that this adult would use a 9-year-old to commit a crime," said Inspector Raymond Evers. "At least two times we have her on video entering the store with a trash bag and loading up; it's absolutely a disgrace."


The group would use the same tactic for each "takeover" theft: pull up in front of the store, fill trash bags with stolen merchandise, then take off in the same car - all in under two minutes.

That stolen merchandise was then sold online and at two different bars in Philadelphia, according to authorities, who say none of it has been recovered.

Police say the group orchestrated at GIvenchy and Lululemon stores in Philadelphia, Suburban Square and King of Prussia, totaling more than $75,000 in retail thefts.

In Philadelphia, the Lululemon on Walnut Street was hit nine times over the course of just three months.

During the Givenchy theft at King of Prussia Mall, police say a security guard and employee were pepper-sprayed in the act.

While police say suspects arrested for a Lululemon heist in Suburban Park last month committed the same crime after being released.

Bail has since been set at $180,000 for Janiyah, who has been charged with nine retail theft offenses. Ayonna is currently only facing one, but police believe she is connected to several others.

Police say they have identified the seven other suspects in connection to the retail theft ring, and will be serving out arrest warrants. The suspects are said to be both male and female, ranging in age from 9 to 25 years old.

"We have two, and we will lock up the other seven," Evers said.

A Lululemon spokesperson sent FOX 29 the following statement Tuesday: 

"We are fully cooperating with the Philadelphia Police Department in their investigations and thank them for their efforts and collaboration.At lululemon, the safety and security of our people and guests is our top priority. We take thefts and vandalism very seriously and train our employees to follow our policies and protocols for responding to them. In a situation involving active theft, our employees are instructed to call 911 when needed and are required to prioritize safety in their response protocol.We utilize advanced technologies and investigatory techniques to identify and report theft incidents. By partnering with law enforcement, we support investigations through prosecution to ensure offenders are held accountable."