Philly mystery: Who’s stealing 0s and 1s from East Kensington homes?

It’s a small crime spree with no visible motive: “Why is it only 1s and 0s?”

Five of the at least 20 homes that had their 0's and 1's stolen within the last week or so.

Five of the at least 20 homes that had their 0's and 1's stolen within the last week or so.

Anna Orso/Billy Penn

Update: There appears to be a second person involved. See the surveillance video here.

Meghan Haley and her husband just moved to East Kensington two weeks ago from South Philly. But the couple realized this morning: Something was missing.

It was the number “0,” a part of their address marker, and it went missing from the front of their home overnight — apparently pried from the facade of their house on the 2200-block of Amber Street in East Kensington.

It’s not just Haley’s “0” that’s missing. Their neighbor’s “1” is gone, too. And a walk around the general vicinity shows at least 20 homes have had a “1” or a “0” missing, a gaping hole or a blank ending standing out boldly. So far, it seems, it’s just those two digits our potential thief is after. The focus of this weird crime spree seem to be concentrated on the 2200- and 2300-blocks of Amber Street, the 2000- and 2100-blocks of East Susquehanna Avenue and the 2000- and 2100- blocks of East Dauphin Street. And every home targeted had an address marker that was in one way or another jutting out of their house.

missing-numbers-1
Anna Orso/Billy Penn

“We’re just very upset and frustrated and confused,” Haley said. “And why is it only 1s and 0s?”

Lucky for folks in the area, Haley said she thinks she has a video of the perpetrator caught on her home surveillance system. Here’s the the full video, as well as a screenshot, which were provided by Haley. Note the timestamp showed the alleged theft occurred at about 1:30 a.m.

screen-shot-2016-09-14-at-3-31-13-pm
Screenshot of surveillance video provided by Meghan Haley

Police in the 26th District, which covers this area of East Kensington, just along the border of Fishtown, apparently have seen a recent spate of petty theft. Sgt. John Massi sent out an email to some neighbors on Sept. 6 that noted: “We are experiencing a increase in several thefts and burglaries with some unique patterns.” It didn’t specifically note address markers, but it warned residents to mark their belongings.

Massi couldn’t be reached for additional comment Wednesday, but he did note in the email sent to neighbors that police ask residents to report all crimes, no matter how small they may seem, so that police can determine and track patterns.

“Many residents are video taping the crimes & posting them on social media, but never calling 911,” he wrote. “This prevents us from apprehending any criminals.”

missing-numbers-3
Anna Orso/Billy Penn

Some residents in the area were apprehensive to speak on the record about the thefts, for fear of the perpetrator discovering where they live. But multiple people milling about in the area Wednesday speculated the person stealing the numbers may be using them for a project or art installation of sorts. Another person said it’s probably kids playing a prank just for the pure pleasure of being a nuisance.

What is clear is that the rash of theft of the numbers didn’t happen all at once. Word of the thefts started to spread in neighborhood circles more than a week ago. One man who spoke to Billy Penn said his “1” was stolen either late Friday night or early Saturday morning. Haley said hers was likely taken Tuesday night or early this morning.

Another woman said she thought she heard what sounded like “drilling” outside her neighbor’s home at about 4 a.m. Saturday morning, only to discover the next day that a number was missing.

“Thank God,” she added, “mine are painted on.”

missing-numbers-2
Anna Orso/Billy Penn

Anyone with information is asked to call 911. In addition, the 26th District can be reached at 215-686-3260 and is located at 615 E. Girard Ave.

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