A looter who livestreamed a mob-style thieving spree in Philadelphia and encouraged others to join in burst into tears during her mugshot.
Dayjia Blackwell cried after she was charged with burglary, conspiracy, criminal trespass, riot, criminal mischief, criminal use of communication facility, receipt of stolen property and disorderly conduct.
Blackwell’s anguish has been plastered online, contrasting to the carefree joy she conveyed in videos posted to social media – as dozens ransacked stores in the city’s downtown business district.
The 21-year-old social media personality, who goes by the name ‘Meatball,’ told her 181,000 Instagram followers to join her as she excitedly ran through the street and drove to several locations hit by thieves that night.
She filmed a mob as they looted Apple, Lululemon and Footlocker, before moving on to a liquor store where she herself boasted about grabbing a bottle of Hennessy.
Looter Dayjia Blackwell, who livestreamed a mob-style looting spree in Philadelphia and encouraged others to join in, appeared distraught as police took her mug shot
Dayjia Blackwell confidently livestreamed the crime spree in downtown Philadelphia last night, blissfully unaware that just four hours later it would land her in handcuffs
Blackwell was put in handcuffs in front of her friends, who remained in the car. She had less to say as she was taken away by cops
‘Tell the police if they lock me up tonight it’s going to be lit, it’s going to be a movie! Everybody’s gotta eat!’ she said to the camera.
It was a bitter pill to swallow for Blackwell when she was finally nabbed by cops while in her friend’s car just after midnight.
Still filming herself and the night’s events on an Instagram live stream, she tried to talk her way out of it.
‘We didn’t have anything to do with this!’ she protested, clearly forgetting about the hours of footage she’d so keenly put together and brazenly shared.
Blackwell joined dozens who face criminal charges after the social media-fueled mayhem, in which groups apparently working together, smashed their way into stores and stuffed bags with merchandise before fleeing, authorities said.
At least 52 arrests have been made so far with burglary, theft and other counts filed against at least 30 people, so far.
According to Jane Roh, a spokesperson for the Philadelphia district attorney’s office, all but three of those arrested were adults.
The flash mob-style ransacking Tuesday night targeted dozens of stores including Foot Locker, Lululemon and Apple.
It came after a peaceful protest over a judge’s decision to dismiss murder and other charges against a Philadelphia police officer who shot and killed a driver, Eddie Irizarry, through a rolled-up window.
Those doing the ransacking were not affiliated with the protest, Interim Police Commissioner John Stanford said at a news conference, calling the group ‘a bunch of criminal opportunists.’
At least 18 state-run liquor stores were broken into, leading the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board to close all 48 of its Philadelphia retail locations and one in suburban Cheltenham on Wednesday.
No employees were hurt Tuesday night, but ‘some were understandably shaken,’ said liquor board spokesperson Shawn Kelly.
The stores were ‘closed in the interest of employee safety and while we assess the damage and loss that occurred,’ Kelly said.
‘We will reopen stores when it is safe to do so and when the damage is repaired.’
Videos on social media showed masked people in hoodies running out of Lululemon with merchandise as police officers grabbing several and tackling them onto the sidewalk.
Photos of a sporting goods store at a mall showed mannequins and sneakers scattered on the sidewalk.
The thefts and unrest stretched from downtown to northeast and west Philadelphia, leaving smashed display windows and broken storefront coverings.
Police said seven cars were stolen from a lot in the northeast – one of the cars had been recovered as of Wednesday afternoon.
Six businesses in a single retail corridor of North Philadelphia were looted, including three pharmacies, a hair salon, a tax preparation company and a cellphone store, according to the North 22nd Street Business Corridor, a business group.
Benjamin Nochum, the pharmacist and store manager at Patriot Pharmacy, said it was the third time since 2020 his business had been hit.
‘When looters steal from us, what they don’t seem to understand is that they are also stealing from our neighbors,’ Nochum said in a statement.
‘It makes you question how much longer you can hang on.’
People appeared to have organized efforts on social media, according to Stanford, the interim police commissioner.
Police are investigating ‘that there was possibly a caravan of a number of different vehicles that were going from location to location.’
Video posted to social media showed people hanging out of cars in a shopping center parking lot, appearing to yell directions to one another.
‘This destructive and illegal behavior cannot and will not be tolerated in our city,’ said Mayor Jim Kenney, a Democrat, calling it a ‘sickening display of opportunistic criminal activity.’
His administration is working with police to assess ‘which areas of the city may need increased coverage or additional resources,’ he said.
The chaos in Philadelphia was reminiscent of similarly brazen smash-and-grab thefts elsewhere, particularly in the San Francisco Bay Area, where organized groups of thieves, some carrying crowbars and hammers, have systematically targeted high-end stores.
There were a large number of young people in Philadelphia’s downtown business corridor, called Center City, shortly before 8 pm, and some officers stopped a group of males ‘dressed in black attire and wearing masks,’ according to a police news release.
At that time, reports and 911 calls came in about the Foot Locker store. When police arrived, they found it had been ‘ransacked in a coordinated attack,’ the news release said.
By 8.12 pm, police responded to similar calls at Lululemon, where police wrestled a few suspects to the ground as people streamed out of the store.
The flash mob-style ransacking Tuesday night targeted dozens of stores including Foot Locker, Lululemon and Apple
A large number of people can be seen running towards the Lululemon store in this picture during the spree
Images shared on social media show a large group storming the Apple store in the city, raiding it in the process
Some of the suspected thieves slipped past police and got away, according to video posted to social media.
Shortly afterward, calls directed police to the Apple Store, where thieves had forced their way in and made off with phones and tablets — then smashed them on the ground when they realized the devices were disabled and their alarms were going off, social media video showed.
Some of the merchandise was recovered, according to a police news release.
Latest figures, which are up until last Sunday, show how there has been 302 homicides in the city so far this year.
There has also been 402 reported rapes, 58,759 cases of property crime, 3,701 cases of aggravated assaults and 1,314 shooting victims.
As crime has soared across Philadelphia, it has come as homelessness and drug use on the street have become more prevalent.
Homeless people and drug addicts are often driven to petty theft as a way to find ways to sustain themselves or scrape enough money together to supply their addictions.