Police are urging residents to be wary of criminals attempting to exercise what Chief John Dowie characterized as “bump and rob” attacks on drivers.
At 8 p.m. on Feb 19, a Kearny woman operating a vehicle southbound on Ivy St. was struck by what appeared to be a Suburu near the King St. intersection after she’d stopped at the stop sign. The woman then exited her car to assess the damage and exchange information with the other driver.
At that time, the other driver emerged wearing a black ski mask and brandishing a handgun, threw her to the ground and demanded the keys to her car. An accomplice, also masked and armed with a black revolver, exited the Suburu and the pair tried to remove the woman’s 8-year-old son from her vehicle, but eventually gave up and sped off in the Suburu.
Police said the woman managed to recompose herself and called Kearny Police. Officer Brian Wisely was the first to respond, followed by Dets. Ray Lopez and John Telle. After getting a description of the suspects’ vehicle, they learned that a vehicle of similar description had been involved in crimes in Seacaucus, Lyndhurst, and North Arlington. That car is described as a Silver 2003 Suburu Impreza and it is believed it could still be in the hands of criminals.
Dowie cautioned residents to be alert for drivers using a strategy similar to that employed by the two gunmen. “They want your car when the motor’s running because it’s easier to steal that way,” he said. “Parked cars – especially the newer models – can be hard to start.”
Drivers who’ve stopped for a light or stop sign should exercise caution when dealing with a driver bumping the rear of their car. “If you don’t feel right about it, don’t exchange information until the police get there. If you are confronted where you are obligated to comply, turn over your stuff, we don’t want to see anyone get hurt. Try to get a description, license plate and a direction of flight if possible and call the police. Don’t try to be a hero,” Dowie said.
In other criminal activities logged the past week by Kearny Police:
On Friday Feb. 17, Officer James Mackintosh reported to the 200 block of Hickory St. in response to a burglary at a residence. The burglers broke in through a window off an enclosed porch. An investigation culminated on Feb. 23 when Kearny Police arrested brothers William and Scott McCurley, 27 and 31, respectively. Both Kearny residents were charged with burglary, theft, and conspiracy.
Shortly before 1 p.m. the following day, Officer Chris Levchak was on patrol on Wilson Ave. and observed a 26-year-old Kearny resident sitting on a lawn drinking a can of Natural Ice beer. Levchak approached the individual to take the beer from him, but the individual would not release it and became combative, looking to fight Levchak. After refusing to calm down, he had to be taken to the ground and handcuffed. The man, 26-year-old Sidnei Antunes, was given a town ordinance for drinking in public and was additionally charged with disorderly conduct.
Later that day, Officers John Fabula and Patrick Walsh responded to a report of a fight involving weapons by N. Midland Ave. near the railroad overpass. When they arrived, they found three males armed with baseball bats and nunchucks. After seeing the officers, the individuals attempted to discard the weapons. They were eventually rounded up and detained. Police said the trio told them they’d been throwing rocks down onto vehicles from the Newark side of the bridge but were scared off and crossed to Kearny. All three were placed under arrest and charged with possession of weapons for unlawful purpose and defiant trespass. They were listed as David Fuentes, 18, of Newark, and two juveniles, 15 and 17, also of Newark.
On Feb. 19 around 3:30 a.m., Officers Luis Moran and Tom Sumowski were on patrol at Passaic Ave. and Belleville Turnpike when they spotted a vehicle that, when the light turned green, sped away from the light with tires squealing and traveling at a high rate of speed. The officers attempted to stop the vehicle, but the vehicle continued to accelerate.
They followed the vehicle to the Manor section where the driver pulled into a driveway and ran into a residence. The officers woke the residents of the home and demanded the individual come to the door and account for his actions. When the man came out, police said they detected an odor of alcohol on his breath and placed him under arrest. The man, 32-year-old Kearny resident Nicolas Lozito, was charged with resisting arrest by flight, driving while intoxicated, eluding an officer, and careless driving.
On Feb 21 at 1 p.m., Det Mike Gonzalez went to a Chestnut St. location to check out the report of an intruder kicking in the door of an apartment in a two-family house, ransacking the apartment and threatening the occupant before leaving. After questioning the occupant, detectives located and arrested Andrew Polanco, 22, of Kearny, and charged him with burglary and conspiracy. Polanco was taken to the Hudson County Jail, Kearny, with bail set at $25,000.
On Feb. 23, Officer Pat Sawyer observed a vehicle fitting a description broadcast by North Arlington Police linked to an individual who had reportedly fled a domestic violence scene. Sawyer observed the vehicle in the 300 block of Belgrove Drive operating at a high rate of speed. Sawyer conducted a motor vehicle stop at Belgrove Drive and Halstead Ave. and, after confirming the driver was the man sought by North Arlington Police, placed him under arrest. He was taken to North Arlington Police Department Headquarters where he was also given a summons for careless driving.
– Anthony J. Machcinski