“They were looking for victims,” said Sgt. Juan Barrera from the investigation room at the Guttenberg police station last month. He was describing three men who allegedly lay in wait to commit a crime last Sept. 27. “It was an armed robbery. A handgun was used,” Barrera said. The three men allegedly came upon three local residents who happened to be together in the wrong place at the wrong time. The stolen items: jewelry and cell phones.
In an unrelated incident on Dec. 2, a man was detained and allegedly robbed by two assailants inside a housing complex on Broadway.
“It was basically a strong-arm robbery. They [allegedly] forced the victim to give them his money and his phone,” said Sgt. Barrera.
“The coincidence in both these [alleged] robberies is they’re going a lot for the iPhone, the high-end phones,” said Barrera. “That’s what people are targeting. We want to make the public aware to be careful when they have these high-end phones, because they are a target for robberies. These are $500, $600 phones, and everybody now has a smart phone and it’s a target. It’s very important that people are aware you’re holding a valuable piece of property.”
Two crimes, five arrests
Three men were arrested for the alleged crimes on Sept. 27. All were charged with armed robbery, a first degree crime. One of the men was also charged with possession of a weapon and possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes. The other two men were charged with conspiracy, defined as “if two or more people conspire to commit a crime,” according to Barrera.
Sgt. Barrera worked the case with Investigator Shaundell Barker of the Guttenberg police. The alleged perpetrators were identified in a photo lineup by the three victims. Upon arrest they were transported to the Hudson County Jail in Kearny for arraignment. The gun was not recovered.
“We want to make the public aware to be careful when they have these high-end phones, because they are a target for robberies” –Sgt. Juan Barrera
“All the males were transported to the Hudson County Jail in Kearny with high bails,” Barrera said. “The guy in the second [alleged] robbery, he had a fresh scratch to his face,” he added.
“Information we received is that these five guys might be involved in other robberies of phones,” Barrera said. “We’ve had numerous robberies in town and we’re aware that surrounding [towns] were also getting hit with robberies.”
Barrera could not stress enough that everyone needs to be careful and alert at all times. “The high-end phones are basically a target. The iPhones, the Galaxys. You don’t think about it because you’re on your phone but basically somebody will punch you in the face for it, or put a gun to your side. You have a piece of expensive property in your hands. Just be aware of your surroundings.”
The Guttenberg police encourage anyone with information on a crime to call the Investigation Bureau at (201) 868-2315, extension 155.
Art Schwartz may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.