FAIRFIELD, NJ — Three suspects were arrested and charged with credit card fraud at the Target store in Fairfield on Monday.
While on foot patrol in the Target store located on Route 46 Monday evening, Fairfield Officer David Lagan was notified that a large number of gift cards were just purchased at a number of locations in the store using a number of different credit cards.
The Fairfield Police Department later announced the arrests of Ricardo Mattis, 27, and Schaevaughn Watt, 23, both of Brooklyn, and a 17-year-old juvenile from New Jersey whose name is being withheld due to his age. The trio was arrested for credit card fraud, intent to commit credit card fraud and conspiracy. In addition, Mattis was charged with possession of less than 50 grams of marijuana.
According to Police Chief Anthony Manna, in order to make the arrests, Lagan relied on his previous experience in dealing with past individuals who have used stolen credit cards to purchase legitimate gift cards, which in turn were used in part to purchase merchandise.
Target security gave the officer a description of the suspects and advised the officer that he believed they had already left the store.
Lagan immediately exited the store and drove toward Route 46 East when his attention was allegedly drawn to a black Nissan Pathfinder with New York plates in the parking lot of the neighboring Valero gas station. Police said he then observed this vehicle pull into a parking space and almost immediately pull out of it.
The vehicle then allegedly entered onto Route 46 East using an “entrance only” driveway in what Lagan described as an extremely careless manner. The vehicle was then stopped on Route 46 and found to be operated by Mattis.
Lagan also said that he observed a large number of Target bags in the vehicle and noticed that the occupants allegedly matched the description of the suspects that were provided by Target security. At this time, other officers arrived as back up, according to Manna.
During the course of the investigation, Lagan allegedly discovered and seized 35 Chase credit cards with different names, $1,830 in Target gift cards and $8,257.66 worth of merchandise purchased at Target. The merchandise included seven iPads and four Apple watches.
Police also found a marijuana cigarette allegedly belonging to Mattis just outside the vehicle.
All three individuals were placed under arrest and transported to police headquarters. The vehicle was impounded and all the suspected stolen items and contraband was seized.
The juvenile was charged and eventually released into the custody of a parent, according to police.
In addition to the criminal charge, Mattis was charged with motor vehicle offenses of careless driving and possession of a controlled dangerous substance in a motor vehicle. Both adults were released on their own recognizance with a pending initial court date in the Superior Court in Newark on Aug. 18.
The investigation is ongoing. It should be noted that the charges against the individuals are merely allegations and that all are presumed innocent until they plead guilty or are found or adjudicated guilty in a court of law.