Man hurt trying to stop alleged shoplifter

Google Images Scene of a shoplifting incident last Monday in North Arlington.
Google Images
Scene of a shoplifting incident last Monday in North Arlington.


A gallant customer tried to prevent a shoplifting at the Dollar General store on River Road last week — and was assaulted for his efforts — but the alleged attacker and his getaway driver were caught on the Belleville Pike a short time later, authorities reported.

According to North Arlington police, at about 4:20 p.m., Monday, Sept. 21, a patron in the store, located in the mini-mall near the Pike, observed a man bypass checkout and leave the premises with a shopping cart full of laundry detergent. The shoplifter deposited the goods in a car in the mall lot, returned and took more of the same, police said.

As the thief was attempting to leave for a second time, the customer — a 36 -year-old North Arlington resident — stopped him at the entrance, and a physical confrontation ensued, police said. The patron was reportedly struck several times and was knocked to the ground.

A Dollar General employee who saw the assailant flee got a description of the perp (who had now elevated the crime from shoplifting to robbery) and also snapped a cellphone photo of the getaway vehicle, a silver Chevy Impala. In the picture, the license plate was clearly visible.

North Arlington issued a BOLO, and a few minutes later Kearny Police Officer Daniel Esteves spotted the Impala, apparently occupied by two men, heading east on the Pike near Clinton Ave. Failing to get the driver to stop, Esteves pursued the vehicle to Schuyler Ave., where heavy traffic forced it to slow.

Police said that when it appeared the passenger was attempting to bolt from the Impala and run, Esteves drew his service revolver and ordered both occupants to remain where they were.

They complied, and Esteves held them at gunpoint pending the arrival of North Arlington cops.

NAPD Officer Chris Redmond then took into custody passenger Levi Huggins, 47, who was identified as the shoplifter, and driver Damion Baker, 46, both of Jersey City.

Each was charged with robbery and shoplifting. In addition, Huggins has a charge of aggravated assault. Police said both also had outstanding warrants.

The duo was remanded to the Bergen County Jail: Huggins, on $82,500 bail; Baker, on $43,500.

In Kearny, a criminal complaint detainer was issued against Baker for eluding a police officer in a motor vehicle. “So when Bergen County is done with him, he’ll come back to Hudson,” KPD Chief John Dowie said. Baker’s bail on that charge was set at $50,000.

Police said the Dollar General customer who tried to stop the heist suffered a facial laceration, was taken to a hospital by North Arlington EMS, treated and released.

(Editor’s note: Shopping carts full of laundry detergent? Yes. Authorities report that this has become an easily fenced item. Either that, or these two guys like their clothing very, very clean. Allegedly.)

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