Two gunmen steal $120,000 from Mann Center in noon holdup

Police investigate the robbery at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts. A light blue minivan had been parked near the amphitheater just before the robbery.
Police investigate the robbery at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts. A light blue minivan had been parked near the amphitheater just before the robbery. (ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / Staff Photographer)
Posted: August 07, 2011

Two gunmen made off with more than $120,000 in catering proceeds Friday in a brazen lunchtime holdup at the Mann Music Center, police said.

About noon, an accountant for Wolfgang Puck Catering was counting out cash from the week's sales. The catering company, which has administrative offices at the Mann complex, provides food and drink at the amphitheater's concession stands.

The safe was open. At 12:03 p.m., two men with bandannas hiding their faces strode through an unlocked back door, said Lt. John Walker of Philadelphia police.

Armed with a silver revolver, one of the masked bandits forced the accountant to the floor and then bound the man's arms and legs with plastic ties. The other bandit hurried to the safe and emptied the contents into a bag, Walker said.

"They were in and out in five minutes," Walker said. No one was injured.

The men fled toward Georges Hill Drive, where, Walker said, it appeared they had cut a hole in a fence for a quick escape.

A light blue minivan, possibly a Dodge Caravan, had been parked near the amphitheater just before the robbery. A security guard reported seeing the van speeding toward Belmont Avenue shortly after the holdup.

Investigators are looking at the possibility of an inside job.

"We believe it was clearly targeted," Walker said. "Very few people knew about that kind of money there, where the building was situated, how to get in, and the company's procedures."

Detectives last night were examining video taken by surveillance cameras, he said.

The Mann, in Fairmount Park, is host to numerous pop concerts and is the summer home of the Philadelphia Orchestra. There was no show Thursday night. The band Death Cab for Cutie was expected to perform as expected Friday night.


Contact staff writer Sam Wood at 215-854-2796, samwood@phillynews.com or @inqwriter on Twitter.

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