UNION, NJ – Five individuals from New York were arrested by Union police Sunday night upon a call of suspicious activity near the Best Buy store in Vauxhall, according to police.

At about 7:30 p.m., a Union police detective, working off-duty security in the parking lot of Whole Foods at 2245 Springfield Avenue, observed two cars parked next to each other and individuals transferring backpacks and locking them in the car trunks, police said.  The Union Police Street Crimes Unit was contacted and arrived at the scene. 

When both vehicles, filled with occupants, left the lot, Street Crimes Unit officers followed and stopped one car on Vauxhall Road, police said. As the officers approached the car on foot, the driver drove away and onto Route 78 East, according to police.

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The officers briefly chased the vehicle, but ultimately ceased the pursuit, according to police.  As the officers continued eastbound on Rt. 78, they came across the vehicle after it had crashed into a wall near the Garden State Parkway, police said. One man got out of the driver’s seat and attempted to run away.  Police caught up to him.  A struggle ensued and the individual was arrested.

Police observed another man running across the highway.  That man was stopped and later arrested. 

Concurrent with this activity on Rt. 78, other Union officers stopped the second vehicle.  According to police, a small amount of marijuana was found. Three people from the vehicle were arrested. 

Police found new Apple products, including laptops in both cars.  An investigation later determined that many of these items were stolen from the Vauxhall Best Buy. The stolen items in the car were recovered and were later returned to the store manager. 

The investigation revealed that the men were going into the store to steal laptop bags and laptops and then dropping them in the parked vehicles. In total, close to $25,000 worth of computer items were recovered, including laptops from a Best Buy in Jersey City.  According to police, it appears some of those arrested broke into the storage room in the Jersey City store and stole items from there.

Those arrested were identified as Pierre Kurt, 30, from Jamaica, NY.  His bail was set at $10,000.  Kurt was the driver of the car that eluded the officers.  He was charged with shoplifting, eluding, resisting arrest, and obstruction of the law.  Kurt also received motor vehicle summons for his driving actions.

Also arrested was Eliyah Thomas, 25, from Brooklyn, NY.  He was charged with shoplifting, resisting arrest and obstruction of the law by running away on Rt. 78.  Thomas’ bail was set at $10,000.

Jason Pollard, 32, also from Brooklyn, was arrested and had his bail set at $10,000.  Pollard was charged with shoplifting, possession of a weapon (a prohibited knife in his waistband), and possession of marijuana.  He also had a warrant for his arrest from Mt. Laurel.

Andrea Dandrade, 27, from Brooklyn, was also arrested and had bail set at $10,000.  She was charged with possession of marijuana that was in the car.

Also arrested was Shawn Noel, 37, from Brooklyn.  Noel was released on a summons.  He was charged with possession of marijuana and shoplifting.

The cars used were both rental vehicles and the one that crashed sustained heavy damage with air bag deployment.  All individuals involved were being held at the Union Police Department pending transfer to the Union County Jail. 

These crimes are being investigated by Detective Lagoa.  Any information on these crimes, should be provided to Detective Lagoa at 908-851-5030.