KPD: Is that a lobster in your pocket or …?


This week, we have the privilege of recounting what has to be one of the more bizarre shoplifting reports in recent KPD records: At 6:30 p.m. on Monday, June 26, Officer Mina Ekladious observed, and reportedly recognized, 51-year-old Kelvin Speight, of Newark, walking in the ShopRite/BJ’s mall area on Passaic Ave.  

Police said he was stopped for a field inquiry after the officer noticed what appeared to be “a very large bulge in his waistband.

With Officer Chris Manolis as back-up, police said Ekladious conducted a pat-down and found the bulge to be a package of four frozen lobster tails. Two more lobster-tail packages reportedly were found tucked into the small of his back.

The cops thought all of this fishy (or, more accurately, crustaceany), but according to the report, Speight then spontaneously admitted, Okay, officer. I stole these from BJ’s, but I swear Im gonna pay them back the first of the month. And, by the way, I‘ve got more s–t in my pants.”

Luckily for the cops, police said this turned out not to be  actual s–t, but two more packages of lobster tails — along with 12 (yes, 12) cans of Febreze air freshener. (How the suspect was able to walk is an ongoing mystery.)

Police said Speight struggled to avoid being cuffed, but was finally taken into custody and to headquarters, where he was booked for shoplifting and resisting arrest. The stolen goods, valued at a total of $143.77, were returned to BJ’s.

[Editor’s note: Since the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office has made police mugshots less readily available, today’s blotter illustration is not of the suspect, but rather an example of the type of creature that provided, probably unwillingly, the allegedly stolen tails. It is not meant to represent any actual lobster whose tail was involved in the case; neither is it personally accused of complicity in any crime.]

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Other recent reports from the Kearny police blotter included the following:

June 24

Shortly after midnight, Officer Michael Gontarczuk saw a 1995 Buick pull into the bank parking lot at Kearny and Johnston Aves., ran a registration check and reportedly found that the Buicks plates belonged on 97 Jeep. Gontarczuk and back-up Officer Chris Medina approached the vehicle to request documentation, detected the odor of marijuana and recovered a plastic bag of the drug from the rear floorboard, police said.

Driver James Hems, 25, of Newark, was charged with possession of pot and paraphernalia, driving with a suspended license, displaying fictitious plates, operating a MV while in possession of a CDS and failure to produce registration and proof of insurance. 

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At 4 a.m., HQ received a report of an SUV being driven in a careless manner near Wawa. Police said Officers Gontarczuk and Sean Podolski responded, saw a 2007 Chevy speeding north on Schuyler Ave., stopped it at Schuyler and Oakwood Aves. and detected the odor of alcohol.

Following assessment by Sgt. Jack Corbett, field sobriety tests, and an Alcotest at HQ, driver Christopher DeSouza, 33, of Kearny, was booked on a charge of DWI.

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Det. John Fabula, on patrol in South Kearny at 6:30 a.m., came upon two-car accident at Hackensack Ave. and Rts. 1/9. Police said the driver of a 2011 Toyota identified himself as Kamar Wilkins, but was unable to produce ID or any driving credentials and was eventually found to actually be Robert Williams, 28, of Jersey City, who had a suspended license and two warrants: DWS, $200, from Jersey City, and a no-bail Hudson County Sheriff contempt of court warrant.  

Williams was arrested on those, a new charge of DWS, hindering apprehension, and careless driving and was sent to the Hudson County Jail. 

June 25

Officer David Bush, on patrol at Afton St. and Highland Ave. at 3:20 a.m., reportedly observed Kevin Plaza, 25, of Kearny, pulling on car door handles in an apparent attempt to gain entry. Since none of the cars were his, he was arrested on a charge of criminal attempted burglary.

[Editor’s note: Since the alleged attempts were unsuccessful, it appears that at least some Kearnyites have finally begun locking their vehicles. Kudos.]

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At 7:15 a.m., HQ advised Officer Richard Carbone that a woman was reported to be sleeping in an SUV at the Dunkin’ Donuts lot on Passaic Ave. near the Belleville Pike. Police said he arrived to find a 2015 Nissan parked jutting into the vehicle lane, and its operator, Sandy Farinhas, 35, of Harrison, exiting it.  

Police said her speech was slurred and, although she stated she was going into Dunkin, she pointed toward the adjacent gas station.

Following FSTs, she was brought to HQ and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, possession of CDS (Tramadol and Percocet reportedly found in her purse), driving while in possession of a CDS, and refusing to take an Alcotest.

June 26

Vice officers, at Bergen and Kearny Aves. at 4:15 p.m., saw a 2016 Toyota pickup being operated in a careless manner, stopped it at King and Ivy Sts., detected the odor of raw marijuana and recovered two burnt pot cigars and a Ziploc bag containing approximately 24 grams of the drug, police said.

Driver Robert Samul, 26, of Wood-Ridge, was charged with possession of pot and paraphernalia.

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At 9:30 p.m., Vice were at Kearny and Johnston Aves., where they had under surveillance John Gross, 24, and Alex Lado, 22 both of Kearny — who they believed had engaged in an earlier drug transaction. As the Vice officers and Det. Sgt. Michael Gonzalez approached the duo, police said Gross attempted to flee on a skateboard. When the police tried to stop him, he allegedly shoved Det. Michael Andrews in the chest and fled on foot.

Andrews and Gonzalez chased him west on Johnston, tackling him to the ground at John St. During the pursuit, police said, Gross discarded a glass vial of suspected cocaine and eight wax folds of heroin, stamped “100%” all of which were recovered.

Police said Lado, who had remained at the Kearny Ave. scene, admitted to possession and was found to have nine folds of heroin — two stamped “100%” and seven stamped “F–k the Narcotics.”

He was charged with possession of the drug and paraphernalia.

Gross was charged with: resisting arrest, hindering apprehension, aggravated assault on a police officer, possession of heroin and cocaine and paraphernalia.

June 27

Det. Cesar Negron, at Johnston and Passaic Aves. at 4:45 p.m., detained Joel Varela, 44, of Newark with whom he was familiar for a field interview and warrant check, which revealed a $400 contempt warrant from Union Township, police said. In a search incident to arrest, police said, Varela was found to be in possession of two Sound Logic speakers, two Bluetooth earbuds and a smartphone waist belt, in all probability belonging to the nearby Five Below store.  

Police said this was confirmed and the items were returned to the shop, where management was working to determine if they had video of Varela on the premises. As of press time, no shoplifting charges had been filed.

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Officer Ekladious, patrolling in the area of Kmart at 9 p.m., observed Martin French, 51, of Newark — whom he believed to be wanted advised HQ and detained him for a warrant check. Backed up by Officer Manolis and Chief John Dowie, Ekladious arrested him on two: $500, Kearny, contempt in a prior shoplifting case; and $258, Irvington, contempt. Police said the latter was under an alias: Eli Davis. French was booked at HQ on both and sent to the Hudson County Jail.

 Karen Zautyk

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