By Karen Zautyk
‘Gone in 60 seconds, returned in 60 minutes,” is the way Kearny Police Chief John Dowie aptly described the case of a stolen car recovered by his officers last week. The vehicle was reported taken from the Walmart lot at 7 p.m. May 16, and by 8 p.m., thanks to some fine police work, was located by the KPD in Newark.
According to the report, a woman who had been shopping at Walmart returned to the parking lot to find her Mercedes Benz gone. When Officer Neil Nelson responded to the call, the victim told him she believed she might have lost or misplaced the car keys somewhere in the store.
Nelson went through the Walmart surveillance tapes and saw a man go to the Mercedes and drive away. He then backtracked through the tapes, Dowie said, and saw the same man make some purchases inside the store and go to a Cadillac Escalade parked in the lot.
The Mercedes was gone, but the Escalade was still there and police identified the owner through the license plates.
Officer Mike Andrews secreted himself in the lot, Dowie said, to keep an eye on the Escalade. When another man arrived at about 7:50 p.m. to get the Caddy, Andrews “boxed him in.” That individual reportedly told the officer that a friend had asked him to go to Walmart and fetch the car.
Police had the man call his friend and tell him that the jig was up and the cops wanted him back at the lot pronto. The alleged thief complied and was driven back to Kearny by another individual, Dowie said.
By that time, Dowie said, the Mercedes was in Newark, and Kearny cops went to the city and recovered it at S. 18th St. and 12th Ave. at 8 p.m. Also recovered from a nearby garage were a computer and other personal belongings that had been removed from the Mercedes, Dowie reported.
The alleged car thief was identified as a 20-year-old Newark man. He was charged with theft by unlawful taking, theft of lost or mislaid property, burglary (for entering the vehicle) and possession of burglar tools (the woman’s keys).
He was remanded to the Hudson County Jail in lieu of $40,000 bail.