Haddon Township Target Employee Assaulted in Store by Bike-Riding Juvenile


Haddon Township resident Benny Breen worries for the safety of his Target coworkers and shoppers at the Westmont Plaza. He’s calling on the community to help redirect teens into other activities.

By Matt Skoufalos | July 25, 2023

A Haddon Township man who was attacked while working at the Westmont Plaza Target says he’s concerned about the safety of his coworkers and customers amid persistent, disruptive behavior from teens at the shopping center.

Between 5:30 and 6 p.m. Sunday, Target employee Benny Breen said he saw a juvenile ride his bike into the store, and circle the business interior while people worked and shopped.

“This is not the first time,” Breen said; “I’ve literally stopped kids from riding their bikes in the store at the door. I can tell he was doing ‘the circuit.’

Breen said he intercepted the teen, and told him he had to leave the store immediately.

“He knew what he was doing was wrong, because why would you do it otherwise?” Breen said. “And that’s when he popped me in the mouth.”

As he escorted the youth to the door, Breen alleges that the juvenile punched him in the face repeatedly, splitting open his mouth, and drawing blood. Breen said that he didn’t retaliate, but that the teen only let up when an older member of the group he was with told him to stop.

After the group was escorted outside, Breen said another employee took him to the back to get cleaned up, and the police were called. He gave a statement to officers, and was evaluated by paramedics at the scene, but declined additional medical attention for fear of being unable to absorb the cost of care.

“At that point, all I wanted to do was go home and have a shower,” he said; “just get my head back together.”

Despite having worked in bars all his life, Breen was surprised to sustain his first punch in the face in a retail environment. He and his wife recently relocated to Haddon Township from South Philadelphia “to get away from that element of fear” they’d seen in their neighborhood on the other side of the Delaware.

Now Breen worries that, without an effort to redirect the activities of young people who’ve turned the shopping plaza into their playground, the problem will worsen.

“It’s not a new thing at this particular Target,” he said. “I’ve worked in bars for a long time, and I haven’t really experienced this kind of anarchy of people coming in and doing whatever they want.

“Sprouts is about to open right next door,” Breen continued. “It’s going to slay them if this goes on. [And]  this Target is definitely in danger of killing itself if this kind of culture is allowed to continue.”

Limited bike rack capacity at Haddon Township Target. Credit: Jane Kandy Lippincott.

Breen also said his fellow coworkers regularly sustain abuse from young people loitering in the store, like an elderly colleague, who’s had products being lobbed at her from the next aisle over while she’s straightening up.

He’s observed groups of kids ransacking outdoor displays at the Dollar Tree nearby without so much as a conversation from anyone there.

“I just want the place to succeed,” Breen said. “There’s a lot of good people that work there that earn an honest dollar; I’m one of them.

“Ultimately, it’s not about me, it’s about the people that shop there,” he said. “I’m more concerned for them than anything else. I think there should be better security; better acknowledgment that there’s just a lot of teens out there that could probably use a rec center, or something that would stimulate their imaginations outside of just hanging around a Target.

“If there was anything I could to do be a part of that, that’d be most important,” Breen said.

Haddon Township Police Captain Tim Hak said the case remains under investigation, and that the alleged assailant is one of a group of around 10 juvenile suspects seen in the area that day.

The teens are not believed to hail from Haddon Township, but concern about delinquency at the Westmont Plaza “definitely has been a challenge” for the community,” Hak said.

“All these businesses have specific policies on how they deal with these things, and when they contact police,” he said. “When we’re contacted, we take immediate action if we can; sometimes the juveniles may be gone prior to our arrival. Anything that involves a crime is investigated and dealt with appropriately.”

In addition to routinely patrolling the parking lot at the Westmont Plaza, Hak said that Haddon Township police have been in contact with property managers Kimco Realty of Jericho, New York “to do some things to help increase the security there.”

Those discussions remain ongoing, he said. Neither Target nor Kimco Realty have yet responded to requests for comment.

“We try to get involved with the kids as much as we can in reinforcing bike safety stuff; to encourage kids to wear their helmets, and ride where they’re supposed to ride,” Hak said.

“We need a lot of parent help with this, too,” the captain said. “If your kids are out, make sure they’re aware of where they’re going and what they’re doing. Target is an area they should be discouraging their kids from going to.”

Target does maintain a security presence at the Westmont Plaza, and Hak said Haddon Township Police “work very well with them.

“We communicate a lot; we try to work together on these issues,” he said.

Hak described Sunday’s incident as “an extreme situation” as compared with prior complaints at the plaza. Although he agreed the encounter likely qualifies as an assault, there’s no information on any potential charges in the case.

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