By Ron Leir
Police are seeking three men who they say forced their way into a Lake Ave. home, held a woman captive and kidnapped her husband as part of a planned robbery.
Although the bandits got away with some loot, police said they left behind two weapons and their vehicle, which, police hope, will help track them down. Neither victim received life-threatening injuries in the incident, police said.
Police said they had a chance to capture one member of the trio but that individual managed to evade officers just as they were arriving at the residence.
Lyndhurst Police Det. Capt. John Valente said police got involved after receiving a 911 emergency call at 8:51 p.m. last Wednesday, Nov. 13, about a report of a possible kidnapping at gunpoint from a residence in the 300 block of Lake Ave.
Valente said officers were sent to the scene but apparently just missed apprehending a suspect who ran out of the house’s back door. A search of the area failed to produce anyone, he said. Police set up a perimeter around the house in case any of the intruders returned.
Subsequent investigation, Valente said, disclosed that the couple who live in the Lake Ave. house own a jewelry store in Union City and were “certainly targeted [to be robbed] based on the family business.”
“This was not a random act,” Valente said.
At any rate, Valente said the sequence of events, as pieced together by investigators, began with the couple driving arriving home and pulling into their garage driveway and being confronted by three individuals, two of whom wore masks, who led them into the house.
(Valente said the couple have a 31-year-old son who, he said, was not home at the time. There is no indication that the son has been threatened or harmed in connection with the robbery plot, he said.)
Next, investigators say, the bandits placed some type of plastic ties around the hands of the 54-year-old woman, with her hands left in front of her, and hit her 62-year-old husband with some type of object. “He may have been pistol-whipped,” Valente said.
At some point, investigators say, two of the intruders grabbed an undisclosed number of “high end” wrist watches, valued at “thousands of dollars,” left the house with the husband, driving away in his car while the third suspect remained behind with the wife.
However, while all three robbers were still in the house, investigators say, the wife – who was left alone – got a call on her cellular phone which she managed to answer and had a conversation with a third party and apparently told the caller what was happening and that third party then relayed the news to police, via a 911 call.
Shortly afterward, Valente said, police were sent to the Lake Ave. house, just as the third suspect had fled.
What happened next, Valente said, is that police were alerted by Clifton P.D. that they had found the husband in that city. The husband told officers he’d been driven to an industrial park area along Ackerman Ave. off Rt. 21 where the suspects abandoned the car and fled on foot. The husband, whose hands had been bound, freed himself, left the car and began walking. Eventually, he flagged down a Clifton police officer who notified Lyndhurst P.D.
Valente said the husband was transported to Hackensack University Medical Center for treatment of his injuries. Later, he was taken to police headquarters where he was interviewed by detectives.
Valente said that police recovered a shotgun which the suspects reportedly left inside the house near the front door and, outside the house, found a “long gun” inside the suspects’ abandoned car which had been reported stolen out of Jersey City during the weekend.
In an interview with NBC- 4NewYork.com, Lyndhurst Police Chief James O’Connor said that the suspects were not believed to be employees or former employees of the couple’s jewelry store but that they had tracked the couple’s movements with the intent of looting the store.
Valente said that police are “sorting through surveillance video from various locations” as part of the investigation.
Police also circulated a composite of one of the suspects described as Hispanic, in his 20s, with dark eyes, about five-feet-nine, 150 pounds, thin build and dark skin. No further information was readily available on the other two suspects.
Anyone with information that may be helpful to the investigation is asked to call the Lyndhurst P.D.’s Criminal Investigation Unit at 201-939- 2900, ext. 2740, or the LPD Anonymous Tip Line at 201- 804-9346.