Harrison police: Scammers posing as town workers in burglary try

On June 30, shortly before 5 p.m., police responded to an apparent attempted scam by people claiming to be town employees at a residence in the 700 block of William St.

The homeowner told police she was cutting her rose bushes when a man she described as white, heavyset, 6 feet, between 45 and 50, with brown hair, wearing a white T-shirt, approached, produced an unknown ID card and said he was with the Harrison Water Department.

Asked why he was there, the man reportedly led the woman into her open garage and told her he needed to check the water in the basement bathroom. He then led the woman into the bathroom and told her to sit down and wait until he could check the other faucets throughout the house.

But the woman refused, saying the man wasn’t allowed in her house, and then told the man she could hear someone else enter the house through the unlocked upstairs front door.

Fearing for her safety, the woman walked upstairs to the first floor living room where she found a second man whom she described as white, medium build, brown hair, about 6 feet, in the 40s to 50s range, wearing a blue work uniform, who informed her that he was going to check the water on the second floor. The man with the T-shirt told the woman that the second man was his boss.

The woman then followed the second man upstairs, at which point, she could hear the voice of a third man whom she couldn’t see.

She then grabbed her life alert medical response necklace and activated the emergency button and the device’s speaker began to sound, causing the three men to panic and flee.

Police searched the house but found none of the intruders. No items were reported missing. Detectives are following up with an investigation.

In other incidents logged for the past week, police listed the following:

June 30

At 10:10 a.m., police were sent to a Cleveland Ave. residence on a report of a burglary. The resident told police that when she got home at about 10:05 a.m., she noticed that the rear outside door leading to the kitchen was ajar and that her HP laptop computer was missing from the kitchen counter. She also found the second-floor bedrooms ransacked and four rings, a brown leather wallet with a debit card, a Kindle Fire Tablet removed. Also taken from the front TV room was an Xbox One, the resident reported. Total value of the items listed stolen was an estimated $6,600.

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At 9:12 p.m., police responded to Cross St. and N. Third St. on a report of a fight. Officers located the victim, a 24-year-old Harrison man walking north on Frank E. Rodgers Blvd. He told police he was walking on Third St. with another man and while they were talking, the other man “sucker-punched” him in the back of his head, causing him to fall to the ground, while his attacker continued punching and kicking him, but when he heard police sirens, the attacker fled on foot east on Cross St.  After checking his pockets, the victim told police he was missing $750 but reportedly said he didn’t want to sign a complaint against the other man who he claimed not to know. Police said he described his assailant as Hispanic, 6 feet, wearing a red shirt, red sneakers and blue basketball shorts. Police said they checked the area but found no one matching that description.

July 1

At 10:52 a.m., police responded to a business in the 100 block of Harrison Ave. on a burglary report. The owner told police that on Monday, June 30, after noticing that one of his desk drawers was open, he became suspicious and reviewed video surveillance tape from the weekend.

On the tape, the owner said, he saw a man he described as a white or Hispanic man, tall with a thin build, in the range of mid-20s to early 30s, wearing a towel covering his head and part of his face, a dark-colored , long-sleeve jacket, white shirt, jean shorts past his knees and dark-colored sneakers with white laces, enter the shop at 1:33 a.m. on June 28.

Once inside, the tape reportedly showed the man rummaging through the owner’s desk and file cabinets.

Police said the intruder is believed to have taken $60 in coins from the office, along with a Panasonic cordless phone valued at $50. Also, several tools valued at about $50, were taken from the shop area.

Police said they found no sign of forced entry into the building. Police surmise the man got inside by climbing onto a meal container and through an unsecured second floor window. Detectives are reviewing the tape for any additional clues.

July 4

Two Harrison High School male students were robbed but police say they caught two suspects and charged them in connection with the crime.

At 8:51 p.m., police were alerted to a robbery in progress at Frank E. Rodgers Blvd. South and Warren St. and the suspects who might be armed were last seen walking south towards the PATH station. After getting descriptions of the suspects, one a white male wearing a white cloth on his head and the second, a black male with a cast on his arm, an officer spotted two males fitting the description on FER Blvd. South and Taft Place on the east side of the street and the pair were arrested.

Police said the incident unfolded as the two students were hanging out with some friends at FER Blvd. and Warren St. They spotted the two suspects near the steps to the town Recreation Center on the side of the building. The suspect with the white cloth waived to one of the students, as if he knew him. When the student approached, he was told to hand over his cellular phone and to call over his friend which he did.

As the suspects began reaching into the boys’ pockets, one of the boys moved away from the suspect with the cast, only to be warned by the other suspect, “Don’t even try it – we are strapped.” The man with the cast then removed the second boy’s cell phone. After failing to find any money on the boys, the suspects allowed the victims to go and walked away.

After the suspects were taken into custody and were positively identified by the victims, police said both were searched and both cell phones found on them but no weapons. Police said both were juveniles from Newark. Both were held at the Hudson County Youth Detention Facility.

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At 11:43 p.m., police were sent to the 700 block of Hamilton St. on a report of a street fight. At the scene, police said they found a large group, including two men, ages 40 and 25, brawling. After separating them, police said they learned that the due were fighting over a parking space. Both were issued summonses charging them with simple assault and released pending a court date.

– Ron Leir

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