West New York police are still investigating three holdups at two Bergenline Avenue banks in September and October. Two of the suspects remain at large, and a witness who identified one alleged robber has since recanted her story.
On Sept. 9, a man wearing a camouflage hat entered TD Bank, 6137 Bergenline Ave., at approximately 2:54 p.m. He allegedly told the teller he had a gun and wanted money. Though a weapon was not shown, surveillance video indicates a bulge near the right pocket of his jacket.
After the news and video images of the robbery were reported by a local newspaper, a woman told police the camouflage hat worn by the suspect was her hat, and that the alleged suspect was her boyfriend. She said she was afraid she and her two children would be caught up in illegal activity, so she identified him.
Two of the suspects wore NY Yankees hats.
The 45-year-old man was charged with one count of robbery and one count of possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose.
But in court he insisted he was not guilty.
Since then, published reports said that his girlfriend told police she may have made a mistake and misidentified him.
That is because there was a second robbery nearby after her boyfriend was arrested, so she said that perhaps the robber of the latter bank was also the robber of the first one.
The next robbery
Just one month after the first robbery, the Bank of America branch one block away at 6050 Bergenline Ave. was struck on Oct. 9 by a suspect wearing a NY Yankees hat. Though he has yet to be found, photos from surveillance video released by police indicate that he is an olive skinned male who also wore a white t-shirt, jeans, and white sneakers, approximately 5-foot-6 and 170 pounds.
He was seen leaving the bank with a bag. Police said he took a metal box that contained approximately $38,000 dollars. TJ Crawford, a representative for Bank of America, said they have a $1,000 reward for anyone with information that would lead to the arrest of the man in the surveillance video.
Not long after, the same TD Bank that was robbed on Sept. 9 was struck again on Oct. 20, this time by a woman. She also wore a NY Yankees hat similar in appearance to that of the Bank of America suspect.
West New York police said she took approximately $850 after allegedly slipping a note to the teller stating that she wanted money and that she had a weapon. Police, who have yet to find her, said she was of short stature with a heavier build.
Changes in security measures
The Reporter noticed an increase in spontaneous surveillance at the banks by what appeared to be security and/or police, including the Hudson County Sheriff’s office.
“The safety of our customers and employees is of utmost importance to us. We maintain and continually review our security measures, but for security reasons, we do not disclose what these measures are specifically,” said a representative of TD Bank, Lauren McClintock, two weeks ago.
“We are cooperating with local officials in regards to the robberies at our West New York, N.J., store and are unable to comment further on this so as to not jeopardize the investigation,” added McClintock.
If you have information that could lead to an arrest in the robberies, contact the West New York police department at (201) 295-5000.
Melissa Rappaport may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org