2 armed robberies on the same day


A recent uptick in armed robberies reported in town the last few weeks is stirring Harrison authorities to preventive action.

The two most recent incidents, which, police said, “occurred within minutes of each other and only a couple hundred feet apart by the same crew,” unfolded in the early morning hours on Sunday, Sept. 4, one involving local residents and the other, a gas station.

Police said units were sent to a location in the 300 block of Essex St., at 4:35 a.m., on a report of an armed robbery moments earlier.

Upon arrival, police said that one of the victims told them that three men in a maroon BMW X5 or X3, newer model, robbed him and his wife at gunpoint as they were exiting their vehicle.

The victim told police that the couple’s two children, ages 4 and 1, were in the rear seat at the time but were not harmed.

Police said the victim told them that one of the robbers, whom he described as black, 5-feet-nine, medium build, wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt, dark jeans and a black mask covering the lower part of his face, was brandishing an Uzi-style machine gun, black with wooden hand grips.

The other two suspects inside the BMW were described only as black males, police said.

The victim told police he last saw the suspects’ car heading east on Essex towards Frank E. Rodgers Blvd. South.

A search of the area by the HPD was unsuccessful and all surrounding towns were alerted via a SPEN (State Police Emergency Network) broadcast about the incident and given a description of the suspects and their vehicle.

After further discussion with the victim, police said they learned that at about 4:10 a.m., he had purchased cigarettes at the Lukoil gas station at Rt. 21 and Bridge St., where, as he was leaving the station’s convenience store, he noticed a maroon BMW X5 or X3 idling in the station parking lot.

That vehicle, he told police, did not have a front license plate but had a temporary tag affixed as a rear plate.

After buying the cigarettes, the victim related, he drove to his Essex St. residence, parking on the north side of the street, and immediately after exiting his vehicle, he spotted the same maroon car, from which two men got out while a third man remained in the driver’s seat.

The victim told police that one of the pair that had just exited the BMW placed the Uzi-style gun to his head and ordered him to, “Give it up,” at which point he turned over several pieces of jewelry valued at more than $10,000. The gunman also demanded his car key which the victim said he provided, police said.

After taking another piece of jewelry valued at $1,300 from the victim’s wife, the second robber entered the victim’s vehicle, a 2013 BMW 528i, and rummaged through the center console, removing an I-Phone 6 plus valued at $500, the victim told police.

The two robbers then returned to the maroon BMW which reversed at high speed east on Essex towards Rodgers Blvd., the victim added.

Police said they were able to track the victim’s cellular phone to a location in Elizabeth and the HPD alerted Elizabeth PD about the incident. At about 6:15 a.m., Elizabeth PD notified HPD that they had located a vehicle matching the description provided parked at Clarkson Ave. and Myrtle St. and that officers had found fresh blood in the vehicle as well as on the running board. The car, which had not been reported stolen, was towed to EPD HQ as unregistered. The victim’s vehicle was also towed to HPD HQ for processing, police said.

Meanwhile, it turns out that during the early morning hours on Sunday, the Delta gas station in the 500 block of Rodgers Blvd. South was also robbed but it wasn’t until the next day that police learned of the incident.

Police said the attendant told them that, at about 4:30 a.m., a small red BMW SUV, possibly an X3 model, with four black men inside, pulled into the station next to one of the pumps.

Three men, all in their early to mid-20s, got out, one holding a small black handgun, another grasping a larger silver gun with both hands and he was then hit on the head with the handle of the smaller gun and ordered to turn over all the money he had in his pockets, police said.

At the same time, he told police, the third man entered the attendant’s shack and removed 10 packs of cigarettes and 50 packs of cigars with a total value of about $140 plus about $300 in cash.

The robbers then fled in the BMW, southbound on Rodgers Blvd., heading towards Newark, the attendant told police.

Security cameras at the station were reportedly not working at the time of the robbery.

Police said there was a delay in the reporting of the gas station robbery because officers were busy responding to the Essex incident and, although that was only a short distance from the Delta station, the attendant, who reportedly has limited command of English, never mentioned anything to those cops.

“We have seen an increase in robberies,” said Harrison Police Chief Derek Kearns, including “a few incidents with weapons – something we’re also seeing in the larger cities bordering us.”

Gas stations in the region are particularly vulnerable, the chief said, since many carry cash and are open 24/7. “We’ve watched these locations which are a hot area historically but we need to do more.”

Absent the town’s ability to hire more cops, Kearns and Mayor James Fife said the town is looking at a variety of anti-crime strategies including more surveillance cameras and lighting.

Fife said the town’s police committee is organizing a task force to acquire cameras equipped with License Plate Reader technology to place on Jackson and Bridge St. bridges and assign additional patrols on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

And, the mayor said, the town will try to make a case with the state to expand its police Table of Organization, currently restricted to 38.










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