by KYW’s Mike Dunn
The bizarre case of the missing Philadelphia newsstands has a new twist, as officials learn more about the man who seemingly hired a crane company to move the stands without the permission of their owners. Newsstand owners at six locations — three in Center City, two in West Philadelphia, and one in the Northeast — were shocked Monday morning to show up for work and find their newsstands had vanished into thin air. John Rocco, chairman of the local newsstand association, says a would-be newsstand owner apparently hired a crane operator to take them away:
“He went and hired a company, it’s a crane company, and he then goes and pick up all these newsstands, and then transport them to various other locations throughout the city.”
Now, city officials say that a month ago, Ofatai King of Germantown applied for newsstand licenses at six other locations. And Robert Solvibile, commissioner of Licenses and Inspections, says approval is still pending: Police tracked down the man who hired the crane. He apparently claims Licenses and Inspections okayed him to do this. Not true, says L & I.
“At this point no approvals have been given to Mr. King to have a newsstand anywhere.”
But officials say King went ahead and hired a crane company on Sunday to simply move existing newstands at six other locations to the corners where he had applied for licenses.
Solvibile says it’s one of the strangest things he has seen in 35 years with L&I:
“It ranks up there. Maybe not the craziest, but it ranks up there.”
Meanwhile, the newsstands cannot be returned until detectives finish their investigation. Rocco calls the whole thing “outrageous.”
I would really, really like to know what the craziest thing the L&I guy has seen if this isn’t it.