MONTVILLE, NJ – Fairfield and Montville police officers conducted a “felony” vehicle stop in the parking lot of Burlington Coat Factory in Pine Brook on Sunday afternoon, but the situation proved to be a false alarm.

Fairfield Police Chief Anthony G. Manna said that Sgt. Frank Tracey was on patrol on Route 46 west when he observed a silver Toyota commit two moving violations. A computer check of the registration revealed the car was reported stolen out of Paterson. 

Fairfield officers conducted a felony stop in the parking lot of Burlington Coat Factory in Montville. Two Montville police officers assisted, according to Montville Township Police Chief Andrew Caggiano.

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Unlike a “motor vehicle stop” for a car suspected of having committed a motor vehicle violation in which the officer approaches the car and makes inquiries of the driver, a “felony stop” is conducted when the vehicle is wanted for a criminal violation and/or the occupants are suspected of posing a threat to the officers, Manna said.

During felony motor vehicle stops, the officers remain behind the cover of their cars and very often have their guns drawn. They do not approach the car, but rather order the occupants out of the vehicle, and secure them until a safe investigation can be conducted. Manna said he did not know if guns were drawn for this stop.

According to Manna, the driver was found to be the registered owner of the vehicle. The driver had reported her car stolen on March 7 to the Paterson Police Department and a few days later, friends found her car abandoned on the streets of Paterson. The friends called Paterson police but, according to the owner, the police never showed, so she went home with her car and it was never removed from the national computer system that lists stolen vehicles.

The Fairfield Police Department contacted Paterson police, and the vehicle was cleared from that computer system, Manna said.