LIVINGSTON, NJ — After being alerted through regional law enforcement agencies about an organized plan to steal from Santander Banks across the tri-state area, the Livingston Police Department (LPD) detained, investigated and arrested three individuals as they attempted to use prepaid debit cards to fraudulently withdraw money from the ATMs at Santander Bank on South Livingston Ave.

Following the Aug. 18 incident, which is still being investigated, Livingston Chief of Police Gary Marshuetz released a statement to the community about it in accordance with his determination to “offer transparency in an effort to build public trust.”

“The purpose of this statement is not only to offer transparency regarding a recent incident that took place in our town, but also to emphasize that context is not always readily apparent to outside observers,” he said. “As the Chief of Police, I strive to always offer this transparency in an effort to build public trust. All of the men and women of the LPD share the common goal of working in partnership with the community to make our town a safe, happy and inclusive place for all.”

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According to Livingston police, the Santander Bank in Livingston was targeted on Aug. 18 after the LPD had already been alerted to the ongoing ATM fraud and was maintaining a watchful eye on the bank at the request of personnel.

At approximately 4 a.m. that day, New York residents Daisy Navarro and Alejandro Rodriguez were both arrested in close proximity to the Santander Bank. Although initially arrested for drug offenses, a search warrant—granted by the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office—ultimately confirmed the duo’s involvement in the debit card scheme, according to police.

Livingston police added that additional charges will be filed, and any information gained will be shared with other investigating agencies.

According to Marshuetz, Livingston patrol officers came into contact with three individuals who were believed to be conspiring to steal money from the ATM. He noted that these individuals were “lawfully detained for a brief period of time” while Livingston officers conducted an on-scene investigation.

“At no time was force deployed,” the chief said. “The individuals were released while the LPD continued the investigation.”

Through another search warrant granted by the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, the chief explained that tangible evidence confirmed that all three individuals were involved in the debit card scheme. Multiple charges are now forthcoming, he said.

Noting that members of the public had been filming this incident on Aug. 18, Marshuetz stated that the LPD “does not take issue with members of the public filming” police activities, but asks that witnesses do so from a safe distance.

“This suggestion is not only considerate of the safety of all involved, but it is also made in an effort to respect everyone’s individual rights to privacy,” he said. “It is also important to note that while these specific individuals were stopped as a result of vigilant and proactive police work, often members of the public call Livingston Police Headquarters to report suspicious activity. The onus is then on our officers to investigate what is being reported by the public.

“Sometimes a response to suspicious activity results in brief and lawful detentions. We ask callers to be specific about the actions and activity that deem any situation to be ‘suspicious.’

According to Livingston police, a total of 89 individuals—some as young as 18 years old—were arrested as a result of this wide-scale incident against Santander Bank. These statistics only include the arrests that took place in New Jersey that were reported in the immediate aftermath.

Livingston Police Assist in Pursuit Leading to Arrest of Four in Cedar Grove

Four suspects were charged and one police officer injured his knee in a foot chase that followed a motor vehicle pursuit after several car burglaries in Essex County early Thursday morning.

According to Cedar Grove police, shortly before 3 a.m. on Thursday, Livingston police pursued a Silver Nissan Sentra into Verona. The vehicle was occupied by four young males. Police suspected the group was involved in motor vehicle burglaries. 

Verona police subsequently pursued the vehicle into Cedar Grove onto Fairview Avenue. Cedar Grove Officer Anthony Grigolo then took up the pursuit of the vehicle on Fairview Avenue from the intersection of Myrtle Avenue. 

The vehicle initially continued to elude the Cedar Grove officers, traveling north onto Route 23 and into Little Falls before turning back south into Cedar Grove again. The pursuit ended when one of the suspects drove the Nissan behind a commercial business on Sand Park Road and the four occupants fled from the vehicle on foot. 

They fled into the wooded area between Sand Park Road and Magnolia Lane. Cedar Grove Sgt. Jose Rodriguez apprehended one suspect and the other three were apprehended with the assistance of Fairfield, Livingston, Verona, Totowa, North Caldwell and Little Falls police, and the Essex and Passaic County Sheriff departments. One officer sustained a knee injury in the foot chase. No other injuries were reported. 

It was determined that the vehicle was stolen out of Belleville. Additionally, one suspect was in possession of proceeds from a car burglary in Newark. The subject’s charges included possession of stolen property, resisting arrest, eluding, obstructing, hindering apprehension, disorderly conduct and numerous motor vehicle violations.

“Please continue to lock and remove keys and valuables from your vehicles,” Cedar Grove police said in a statement addressed to area residents. “It will deter thefts and discourage this behavior. If you should observe suspicious activity or a crime, contact police immediately. Do not investigate or confront the actors.”

Additional LPD Arrests in August

While on patrol on Aug. 31, Officer Ryan Collis observed a suspicious vehicle idling in the roadway along Beaufort Avenue and made a U-turn to check on the vehicle as it pulled away. While speaking with the three occupants during a motor vehicle stop, the officer detected the odor of marijuana from inside the truck.

According to police, further investigation revealed that a passenger in the truck had a bag of marijuana in his pants pocket. The passenger was identified as Christopher Wilson, 20, of West Orange.

The adult male driver and a juvenile passenger were released at the scene. Wilson was charged with possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. He was processed and released with a summons to appear in Livingston Municipal Court.

A day earlier, at approximately 3:36 p.m., the manager The Greek Place at 55 E. Mt Pleasant Ave., called police to report that a man had attempted to pass a counterfeit $20 bill to purchase an item valued at $1.49.

According to the LPD, responding officers used a description of the man and located him in a parking lot at Livingston Town Center as he tried to leave in a vehicle.

The man—identified as Waheed Perry, 27, Newark—was confirmed by the restaurant manager as the person who passed the counterfeit bill earlier that night.

Perry was arrested and charged with forgery, receiving stolen property and theft. He was processed and released with a summons to appear in Essex County Superior Court.

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