Phils euphoria boils over into vandalism

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Litter and damaged planters are strewn on Broad Street after some membersof the crowds celebrating the Phillies' World Series victory turned to vandalism.

Jim Sheil had just climbed into bed at midnight - tired, but thrilled over the Phillies' win two hours earlier - when he got a call from his store's burglar-alarm service.

"They're in your store," Sheil, manager of Robinson Luggage, said he was told.

World Series victory euphoria drew thousands of celebrating fans to Center City on Wednesday night. But a minority trashed the area - demolishing bus shelters, overturning planters, tearing down signs, and vandalizing stores, such as Sheil's.

It took a massive police presence to rout the louts. Seventy-six people, many of them college students, were arrested, police said.

"I've been in retail for 27 years," Sheil said, stooping over to pick out another shard of glass from the carpet of his store at Broad and Walnut Streets. "But this was over the top."

He ticked off the results - windows smashed, glass strewn everywhere, vandals in the store, merchandise tossed out the broken windows and stolen.

If the police had not responded so quickly, he said, more merchandise would be gone. As it is, Sheil said yesterday that he was not yet sure how much was missing.

"My vision was of them ransacking the store," he said.

Police advised him to take the PATCO High-Speed Line from his home in Haddon Heights because Center City streets were blocked. He arrived at the store at 1 a.m. and stood guard until 4 a.m., when repair crews finished barricading doors and windows.

Then, working alone, he began to clean up, joined later by the store's morning shift. The store opened as usual.

"It's a shame," Sheil said.

Next door, John Whiting watched the ruckus Wednesday night as he, his father and his brother stood in the doorway of their restaurant, Italian Bistro.

They had been serving drinks to a happy bunch that spilled out onto Broad Street to celebrate after the final strikeout.

The Whiting trio and a friend stationed themselves outside the door, partly to join the festivities on Broad Street, but mostly to keep out the unruly crowd.

Whiting could see a bus shelter on the corner being trashed. The vandals used parts of the shelter to smash in the windows at Robinson's.

Whiting pointed out where vandals had stripped the neon signs from his glassed-in sidewalk cafe and then climbed up on his glass roof.

He was petrified they would break through and fall on the tables below. "You can't tell them to get down," he said. "It was a mob mentality."

Whiting estimated that damage to his place would run between $8,000 and $12,000.

Even so, he had a World Series week. During Monday's miserable weather that forced suspension of Game 5 until Wednesday night, the Italian Bistro scored a triple, pulling in three times the revenue of an ordinary Monday. Wednesday night was a double. Each night was the equivalent of a Friday, his busiest night.

So, he said, he is ready to pay the deductible amount on his property insurance. "It's peanuts compared to the extra money we earned."

Up the block, F.Y.E., a music store at Broad and Chestnut Streets, was closed yesterday afternoon. Store employees in winter coats cleaned up debris inside as workers fixed five huge broken windows. Yellow crime tape blocked the doors.

Across Broad Street, a crew from Northeast Philadelphia-based Eureka Metal & Glass Services Inc. repaired Commerce Bank's broken windows.

Glazier Jeff Tuffner shrugged. "What are you going to do? People got out of control. It's the alcohol," he said.

"It's a shame. But at the same time, it's good for business," said Tuffner, wearing a Phillies cap. "I hate to spin it like that, but it is what it is."


Contact staff writer Jane M. Von Bergen at 215-854-2769 or jvonbergen@phillynews.com.