On April 2nd, at about 8 PM, a 32-year-old man from Yonkers traveled to Englewood to purchase an iPhone 6 Plus from a male he connected with on an App from the popular buy-sell website known as, “letgo.” They agreed to meet in the parking lot of an apartment complex on Knickerbocker Road. The prospective buyer gave the seller cash and took possession of the phone. Seeing that the phone was locked, he handed it back to the seller and asked him to unlock the phone. The seller took the phone and ran off. There was no physical confrontation and the victim reported the incident to our detectives who began an investigation.
On April 11th, at about 12:30 PM, a 55-year-old man from Bergenfield traveled to Englewood to purchase the same type iPhone as the one in the April 2nd incident. The buyer connected with the seller, this time using an App from another popular buy-sell website known as, “OfferUp.” The buyer was lured to a street in the same general area as the first incident. The buyer and seller exchanged cash and the phone, at which time the seller asked the buyer to give him a ride home. The buyer agreed and the seller directed the buyer to the 300 block of Howell Road. When they arrived, the seller, as he was getting out of the vehicle, asked the buyer if he could see his phone so he could confirm he cleared all of his information from it. During that discussion, the seller forcibly removed the phone from the buyer’s person and fled into a nearby condo complex. The victim was uninjured and also reported the incident to our Department.
Four days later, on April 15th, at approximately 11:15 PM, a 22-year-old female and her 23-year-old male companion, both from Manhattan, traveled to Englewood to purchase the same type iPhone as was offered in the first two incidents, from a male they connected with using the “letgo” App once again. The seller lured them to the 100 block of Knickerbocker Road. They met with the male and cash and the phone were exchanged. As the buyers began to leave, the seller told them that he left his SIM card in the phone. During that discussion, just like during the second incident, the seller forcibly removed the phone from the female’s person and he ran off. The male companion gave chase and soon realized that the suspect had an accomplice waiting nearby. Luckily, both suspects ran off through backyards and neither of the victims was injured. They called 9-1-1 and our Patrol units searched the area with no results.
On April 28th, at about 1 PM, a 43-year-old male from Guttenberg traveled to Englewood to purchase an iPhone from a male. As in the other cases, the buyer met the seller through the “letgo” App and was lured to the same apartment complex that the first victim was lured to on April 2nd. During the transaction, the seller produced a handgun and pointed it at the buyer, who immediately turned over the cash. The suspect then ran west and out of sight through some backyards. The victim called 9-1-1. Patrol Officers and Detectives flooded the area.
In all four cases, the description of the suspects was very similar – a young black or Hispanic male. One of the Officers on-duty at the time of the April 28th robbery, Officer Anthony Gallo, upon hearing the radio description from the latest victim indicating that he was a light-skinned male and had a “chinstrap” beard and goatee, knew of an individual who lived in a condo complex in the 100 block of Glenbrook Parkway, only a very short distance from all of the theft and robbery scenes, that fit that exact description. As our personnel began surrounding the residence, Officers Danny Wenz, Ron Johnson, and Jaime Gillert heard noises from inside the condo and also detected a strong odor of Marijuana coming from within.
After a perimeter was established, with the assistance of the Bergen County Sheriff’s Department K-9 Unit, our Officers made entry and located the suspect and resident of the apartment, 18-year-old Joshua Emmanuel, hiding under a pile of clothing in a closet. He possessed a significant amount of Marijuana, packaged for distribution, as well as having the victim’s cash hidden in one of the insoles of his shoes. He was also clutching two cell phones in his hand that was consistent with the advertised phones for sale during the “letgo” and “OfferUp” App thefts and robberies. He was arrested, along with two other males that were also in the home at the time. All three were transported to headquarters. A 15-year-old juvenile and 19-year-old Jeremiah Medina, both from Englewood, were both charged with 3rd degree Hindering Another’s Apprehension. An additional charge of Weapons Possession, a knife, was lodged against the juvenile. Emmanuel was charged with 1st-degree Armed Robbery, 2nd-degree Possession of Marijuana With the Intent to Distribute within 1000 feet of a School and Within 500 feet of a Public Park, as well as a list of lesser included charges. The juvenile was later released to a guardian. His charges will be heard in Juvenile Court. Medina, as per the new bail guidelines in New Jersey, was released on a complaint summons. Emmanuel was remanded to the Bergen County Jail for detention until trial.
In light of these recent incidents in our City, we’re urging people who use these types of buy-sell Apps to take certain safety precautions: Avoid going to someone else’s home. Avoid having someone come to your home. Meet people in very public and busy places during daylight hours and never go with someone in their vehicle or give them a ride in yours. You just never know who’s on the other end of an App deal.
This arrest was a significant one, especially in light of the fact that as the dates went on, the amount of force used against innocent victims increased significantly. Our Detectives are still working hard on the first three incidents. Obviously, Emmanuel is a strong suspect in these. We’re reviewing video from the area, as well as electronic and web-based evidence. Since Emmanuel’s arrest, there have been no more such robberies or thefts in the City.
Anyone with information regarding these cases may qualify for a cash reward through the Bergenfield-Englewood-Teaneck-Hackensack CrimeStoppers line, 24-7, at 1-844-466-6789 OR they can call our Detectives directly at 201-568-4875. Tips can even be submitted through the CrimeStoppers’ website at www.bergencrimestoppers.org.