WESTFIELD, NJ — Officers have arrested a man who allegedly stole money from a tip jar and threatened to shoot an employee at a takeout restaurant in the 500 block of Central Avenue Wednesday, police said.

Dustin G. Eli, 24, of Westfield, had ordered food at the Peking Garden restaurant and made the threat after he found he was unable to pay for the order, Police Chief Christopher Battiloro said.

“The suspect punched the counter’s plastic partition and threatened to shoot a restaurant employee, while making a gesture intimating he was in possession of a firearm,” Battiloro said in a statement. “The suspect then left the restaurant with monies stolen from a tip jar.”

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Detectives arrested Eli in the parking lot of Krauszer’s, located in the 700 block of Central Avenue at 6:48 p.m., immediately following his apparent involvement in the incident at the takeout restaurant, Battiloro said.

“Detectives were able to readily identify Eli as a suspect in the restaurant incident as a result of their investigation of his suspected involvement in other reported thefts occurring at other Westfield establishments on other dates,” the chief said.

Police charged Eli with second degree robbery, Battiloro said.

The chief credited the investigative work of Detectives Robert Desiato and Donald Domanoski, while operating under the direction of Detective Sergeants Kevin O’Keefe and Lauren Maloney.

Eli was being held at the Union County Jail in Elizabeth, pending a detention hearing, police said.

Anyone with any information relating to this incident, or any other incidents involving similar acts or persons, is asked to contact Detective Desiato by telephone at 908-789-6084 or by email at rdesiato@wpdnj.org.

Email Matt Kadosh at mkadosh@tapinto.net | Twitter: @MattKadosh

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