When cockroaches attack: 1 victim’s story

There’s no explaining why some stories hit you where you live even if you’re as crusty as me and have “consumed” a million stories in your lifetime.

Claudia Silmeas, fearful of showing her face, in front of her ruined store. (Photo: Stu Bykofsky)
When I saw Claudia Silmeas’ tear-streaked face on TV after human cockroaches trashed her Mayfair beauty supply shop the other night, breaking her finances and her dream, I went up to 6801 Frankford Avenue Friday morning to make a donation and to see if I could help the best way I know how — by telling her story.

I met the 34-year-old Claudia at the door and introduced myself, telling her she suffered greatly and I wanted to help.

And she told me two more thieves attacked her store at midnight, busting all the windows of Nat’s Beauty Supplies  in the corner of a small shopping strip.

“You were robbed again?,” I said.

She nodded yes — but this time the male and female cockroaches were caught, due to fast police work.

So now we’ll see if thug-hugging D.A. Larry Krasner will send what Interim Police Commissioner John Stanford calls “opportunistic criminals” to jail.

Because, Larry, this duet wasn’t just stealing Claudia’s merchandise, they were stealing her American Dream.

Claudia came here from Haiti in 2007, became a citizen in 2015, and did all the right things. She learned English, she worked hard as a hair stylist, she saved her nickels and dimes, working six and seven days a week, to fulfill her dream of being an entrepreneur. She would be a single mother creating a future for herself and her 4-year-old son, Nathan, for whom her shop is named. (She is separated from Nathan’s father.)

Her shop, which is her only source of income, had been open for five months. Our interview was interrupted a few times as she chatted with Haitian friends in Creole. She was a little groggy because police called her to the store at 1 a.m., and she was up ever since. L&I suggested plywood on all her windows.

In her dreams, she becomes successful and she raises a son who would never become a cockroach. But her dreams are shattered like her storefront glass, but there is good news.

At the urging of friends, she created a Go Fund Me page that can be reached through her Facebook page — Nat’s Beauty Supply. There she is asking for money to replace her large windows. She is at that goal, but $30,000 of merchandise must be replaced and she is having some problems with her insurance carrier (not surprisingly).

She has no idea about the identity of the thugs, she doesn’t think she was singled out, but she is a little fearful now.  She did not want me to use her face in the picture with this story.

If you make a donation, I think you’ll feel as good as I did helping a new American and single mom attain her dream, and restore her damaged faith in her fellow Americans. 

23 thoughts on “When cockroaches attack: 1 victim’s story”

  1. Stu, thank you for reporting such a terrible and yet moving story.
    All Claudia wants is a shot at the American dream as have so many immigrants who preceded her, including ancestors of most of your readers.
    Unfortunately with Krasner, there is no motel where the roaches check in but they can’t check out. Let’m loose Larry will have the roaches back out on the streets in no time.

  2. There is simply no excuse for this type of destructive, self-serving, disgusting behavior. These imbeciles should have the book thrown at them as much as the law allows. Does that disqualify me as a liberal?


    1. Freeze, what you said shows you are a kind and caring individual. While that does not disqualify you from being a liberal it does disqualify you from being a maga.

  3. I hope this woman can get past this and make her dream come true. This just made my heart hurt when I read it. I’d like to ask these cockroaches, why? What did you get out of this?

    1. FYI: I posted this on X, and some wimp attacked me for calling them “cockroaches,” because it is “dehumanizing.” I managed to not tell him to go F himself.

  4. Watching the videos of the roving bands of cockroaches looting stores all over the city, it makes me wonder why any business would want to open a store there. (And my apologies to real cockroaches everywhere, insects that are nicer than the lowlifes named after them.)

    Claudia Silmeas is a woman who is part of the American Dream, and those SOBs who looted and trashed her store are part of the American Nightmare.

  5. Please have Claudia call phone 800 233 2339 and this organization will provide instruction on what crime victim’s compensation benefits she may be entitled to receive as a result of being a victim of a crime in PA.

  6. Cockroaches is the kindest name that I can think of. Trying to make a go of a store in Philadelphia is hard enough. In Mayfair it used to be near impossible to find a store to rent. In many other parts of the city as well. Germantown, Overbrook, Center City, Kensington Ave, all infested by Cockroaches. Sad. I’ll send a donation, and hope for a better Philadelphia. I’m counting on the store making a come back. Not so much the city. Cockroaches are near impossible to get rid of.

  7. Stu,
    Thanks for the honest reporting of what is going on in Philly. Hence stories like this are the reason we moved out of the city and to the calmer burbs…
    Hope you are back to 100% after all of your health issues.

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