Two Armed Robberies in One Night

The Exxon gas station on Prospect Avenue and two people on Watchung Avenue were robbed at gunpoint Tuesday evening.


There were two separate armed robberies Tuesday night within an hour of each other, according to police. 

The first armed robbery happened at the Exxon gas station, at 486 Prospect Ave. Two men approached the gas station and robbed an attendant of about $300 at 10:23 p.m. One of the men reportedly had a semi-automatic handgun. 

The two men then ran away from the gas station on foot. 

One suspect was described as a thin black male, in his mid-20s. The other suspect was also described as black male with a thin build. 

The second armed robbery happened near the Rosedale Cemetery at about 10:55 p.m. 

A woman and a juvenile were approached by two men with silver handguns on the street in front of home on Watchung Avenue. After taking two cell phones, a wallet and cash, the two men fled on foot.  

Police described one of the robbers as a black or Hispanic man who wore a bandanna covering his face. The other man was described as a black male, approximately 5-feet 8-inches tall, about 140 pounds. 

The investigation is still ongoing, according to the West Orange Police Lt. Richard Levens.

wohopeful August 23, 2012 at 10:14 AM
Crimes continue to spiral upward amid Mayor Parisi's recently announced crime fighting plan. Unfortunately it is too little too late as the criminal elementals have already taken over amid the weakened police presence as a result of Mayor Parisis's firing of critical police personnel and his continued reductions in policemen. Clearly the safety and welfare of the residents is not a priority for the mayor.
Sharif Lev August 23, 2012 at 01:00 PM
West orAnge needs more patrol presence because it has become a regalar thing to here about a burglary or a robbery in the middle income and downtown areas. Crooks know they can get away with their actions becauze this is not a heavenily populated area that will produce cooperating witnesses. Gas stations should have security monitors from the department that enables them video of crime occurances, because they are being hit like every three days. How about a mobile police station keeping tabs of designated cameras throughout the downtown area, since their not hiring any more police for extra patrol
Sharif August 23, 2012 at 01:49 PM
Not enough police prelisence here in this town because of the budget. They can help the situation by hiring auxilary police that can help fill some of the untapped spots so officers can patrol the higher crime areas
Paul Reiz August 23, 2012 at 01:56 PM
That's funny ! Look what our mayor said yesterday!
Gary Englert August 23, 2012 at 02:06 PM
^ More anonymous nonsense!
Gary Englert August 23, 2012 at 02:08 PM
Sharif: Auxiliary police officers are not "hired," they are volunteers who are unarmed.
richard lackowitz August 23, 2012 at 02:20 PM
The mayor said, "Overall"......crime is down. That's like saying if you put one foot in ice water and another foot in boiling water......."Overall....the temperature is fine". Let's stop thinking WO is Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. Be realistic mayor. The people of WO know what's happening in town. If it's too difficult to be honest.....step aside.
Steven Serebrenik August 23, 2012 at 02:34 PM
I don't know the solution to this problem other than having more police on the beat at least in downtown area. In my mind, this problem is far from being at a CRITICAL POINT...However we need to start dealing with what appears to be an increasing problem for ALL West Orangers. With our HUGE tax that we pay in WO, I would think that we should be able to afford protection from these thugs.
Gary Englert August 23, 2012 at 03:02 PM
richard lackowitz: The FBI's Uniform Crime Reports for the last dozen years detail an overall and consistently decreasing crime rate in West Orange, and that is an absolute fact. Feel free to educate yourself by reviewing them at this website: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/ucr What HAS increased is the speed and immediacy of the reporting of the crimes that do occur, and how widespread the information is disseminated, due to the proliferation of local on-line media outlets...like The Patch and The Alternative Press. It is no more complicated than that.
Susan Zimmer August 23, 2012 at 03:04 PM
Gary - With all due respect, the numberous on and off ramps to Route 280, a major interstate highway, do indeed make our town and easy mark. Its been this way for years and as the economy continues to tank things seem to be getting worse not better.
Gary Englert August 23, 2012 at 03:13 PM
Susan Zimmer: I've lived in town for 51 years and nothing changed its character more than being cut in half by the climbing ribbon of concrete that is Route 280. It has long provided an easy entrance and exit for those wishing to engage in criminal activity. That said, the economy tanked four years ago and the overall crime rate has continued to decline, with the data supporting that assertion readily available. What you are seeing is the quicker and wider reporting of crime, not more of it.
Gary Englert August 23, 2012 at 03:13 PM
The Mayor was spot on...period.
Brett Kaiser August 23, 2012 at 03:20 PM
>> lackowitz Lack of Wit Damn, that's too funny
Tom G. August 23, 2012 at 04:19 PM
Why do people keep blaming the economy for these types of crimes? Do you really think these were once hard working citizens that have turned to a life of violent crime because they lost their job? When Wendy's shut down did all their workers go out and buy guns so they could start robbing people? I hardly think so. These crimes are committed by punks for which crime is part of their lifestyle.
richard lackowitz August 23, 2012 at 04:22 PM
Gary Englert....Thank you for the information. You probably know the FBI statistics about WO that you were kind enough to direct me toward, but after 20 minutes and several telephones with the link you provided I learned they only report/tract communities with a population of 100,000+. WO is a little short. If you know the crime stats and if the mayor knows the crime stats.....why not share them in detail with folks who are as keen as you?
Gary Englert August 23, 2012 at 04:27 PM
richard lackowitz: You were clearly accessing the "preliminary report for 2011" which only contains large communities (100,000+) at this point in time; the full document to be completed shortly. You can access all years, from 1995 through 2010, which support my contention concerning our overall crime rate being in decline. Mayor Parisi released what will be available (shortly) in the FBI's 2011 UCR and which will be available (next year) in the 2012 edition.
richard lackowitz August 23, 2012 at 04:45 PM
Gary Englert.....if as you wrote, "it is to be completed shortly", then why did you send me to that site? Why do you write, "my contention"? This is an issue of FACTS.....not meaningless words like "overall" or directing someone to a source of information that fails to answer the questions being raised. Again....what are the specific's of overall crime being down. The way you write and probably talk....I think you are getting ready for the political scene.
Gary Englert August 23, 2012 at 05:10 PM
richard lackowitz: "My contention" (as previously stated above) is repeated, as follows: "The FBI's Uniform Crime Reports for the last dozen years detail an overall and consistently decreasing crime rate in West Orange, and that is an absolute fact." That "contention" can be confirmed by reviewing the West Orange UCRs (1995 through 2010) avaialble at: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/ucr The 2011 UCRs currently available there are "premlinary" and contain data for cities in excess of 100,000 in population; the data for the rest of the country (including West Orange) will be available there shortly. What Mayor Parisi/WOPD released was data (for West Orange) that is not currently available on the FBI's website (Jan-Jun 2011 vs Jan-Jun 2012) but, will be posted there in due time...all of which support the "absolute fact" that the crime rate continues to decrease. It is also illegal to falsify such data and what I provided you was a methodolgy to get a complete picture of the reality over time. Again...what HAS increased is the speed and immediacy of the reporting of the crimes that do occur, and how widespread the information is disseminated, due to the proliferation of local on-line media outlets...like The Patch and The Alternative Press. I can't make it any clearer than that.
richard lackowitz August 23, 2012 at 05:16 PM
Gary Englert, Thank you for all the additional comments. The best I'll get is the mayor's use of the term "overall" (which means nothing to me) and your words of "absolute fact" (which are to be revealed in the future). Thanks for clearing up the matter. Real light has been shed on it.
Gary Englert August 23, 2012 at 05:46 PM
richard lackowitz: As we are dealing with statistics here...and sets and subsets of data...the term "overall" is both accurate and applicable, whether or not it means anything to you. For instance: if a community has no murders (or any crime you wish to focus on) in a defined period of time (day, week, month or year) and then experiences one in the next similar period, there HAS been a 100% increase in that particular type of crime, understood? That, however, does not indicate an epidemic or trend, does it? Such statistics must be viewed in context and with historical perspective and there is only one conclusion to draw when doing so: crime is in decline in West Orange and has been for a dozen or more years. Like every other community, we have our anomalies as well.
Michelle Cadeau August 23, 2012 at 08:18 PM
If it wasn't paraded all over this and other forums maybe no one would know there was less police presence and take advantage of it. If that is the reason.
Michelle Cadeau August 23, 2012 at 08:20 PM
Why would you assume the gas stations do have video cameras?
ari August 23, 2012 at 09:40 PM
The UCR only includes the category of 7 major felonies, which is: Murder, Rape, Robbery, Felony Assault, Burglary, Grand Larceny, Grand Larceny Auto. Although crime may appear to be down according to a UCR, this is not an overall true indication of the crime rate in a City. There are plenty of crimes that never make it to the UCR and don't tell the whole picture. For example, a person may have been assaulted, but it may have not risen to the level of felony assault (and forgive me I can't remember the NJ equivalent), and therefore the UCR may not report it. You can't hang your hat on the UCR alone. The fact is, people don't feel safe. Explain to me how at 10:23 pm a gas station gets robbed, and in a town like WO the person gets away on foot? This is not NYC where the person can jump in the subway. The fact is there is less cops on the street. According to the budget released, they are looking to shrink the Dept to 75! With the cut of side jobs (which put extra cops out on the street at NO COST TO THE TAXPAYERS) and a cut of manpower, this is why an armed robber was able to walk off in an area not really urban enough to support armed robbers on foot (I am sure there was a get away car somewhere - but this isn't Main Street).
john anthony prignano August 23, 2012 at 10:38 PM
ari Great letter Police presence matters a great deal .Comments like " All the police in the world on street patrol wouldn't have stopped that crime from happening " or "No amount of police can stop these things from happening " are ridicules . Doesn't a patrol car's proximity to a crime- in- progress matter? There have been millions of incidents of poice on routine patrol literally stumbling on to a crime in progress, or stopping a crime from ever occurring .I have personally witnessed this many times I believe everyone has . One incident I witnessed when I lived in Newark really stands out in my mind ; Police officers on routine patrol just happened to be passing by as someone with a sawed off shotgun was running back to a crowded bar where a brawl was going on .They disarmed him and arrested him .I am convinced lives were saved by those officers, who as I said, had not been called to the scene , but were simply passing by on routine patrol .Simple assaults went from 52 in 2011 to 54 in 2012 . These numbers were not in the Mayor's report That would have reduced the drop in crime from 20.1% to 15% . There were no domestic violence figures in his report either .You can draw your own conclusions .Great letter ari.
Sheila Lefkowitz August 24, 2012 at 12:59 AM
No one can argue about the efficacy of a good police force that is staffed well to protect citizens. The economy...well- is the economy. People doing bad things... they exist in any economy, but I think we get more irritated about them when we feel impacted by economic stress. People steal at night in the privacy of their own homes over the internet. Instead of arguing back and forth about the statistics, let the business owners meet with the WOPD and see what they can do to make it safer to run their businesses. Perhaps they should have a policy not to accept cash after certain hours. Do you think maybe it is foolish when gas station attendants roll out wads of bills when making change. Of course the Exxon station did absolutely nothing wrong to deserve being robbed- I am not blaming the victim, but this whole thing needs to be looked at by the business owner and the WOPD and suggestions by the citizens. Hey- who thought that a gunman would show up at a movie theatre and shoot people in a pretty safe place in the mid-West? No big highway there. The big picture is that we need stronger gun control laws in this country. Wouldn't it be nice if Romney and Obama were free from Wall St. and the NRA and campaign donors and could actually do something about gun control to make all of America a kinder, gentler, and safer place? It's time for an Executive & Judicial branch & Congress that is more responsive to the people and not to special interests. On the local level, too!
Gary Englert August 24, 2012 at 01:23 AM
"Crooks know they can get away with their actions?" Given the recent and very quick arrests made in some rather high profile crimes, I rather doubt criminals feel that West Orange is an easy mark...as it most certainly isn't and has never been.
Tom August 24, 2012 at 02:28 AM
Cameras,cameras,cameras and more cameras! Please
Gary Englert August 24, 2012 at 12:09 PM
With +/- 250,000,000 motor vehicles in the country and more than an estimated 270,000,000 firearms, let's first acknowledge that while far easier to regulate and control the former they still kill far more people in any given year than the latter. While "gun control" is an oft waived banner, that horse is really long since out of the barn as more than enough firearms exist to arm every adult in the country for another hundred years or more, even if the manufacturing and import of them ceased today. While I'm surely in favor of licensing guns and permitting their owners, more stringent processes only constrain (and are followed by) law abiding citizens. Such lrequirements do nothing to curtail access to guns by criminals or the black market that supplies them. Do some legally acquired guns wind up being used illegally? Sure (See; Aurora, CO) but, while +/- 13,000 people were killed by firearms in the USA last year, various studies indicate that somewhere between 800,000 and 1,200,000 people each year successfully defend their lives, family and property by using one. That's a compelling argument for legal gun ownership...and though I own a handgun, I'm not a rabid NRA member or hunter and only a very occassional target shooter. Will technology curtail crime and help catch criminals when it does occur? Certainly, and I would encourage people to employ all of it that they can reasonably afford in their homes and businesses.
Gary Englert August 24, 2012 at 01:11 PM
even Serebrenik: Please see my response to richard lackowitz (above). Absent having enough police officers to assign one to watchover everything of value...and indeed shadow every person...crime will never be eliminated in West Orange, or anywhere else. You may take considerable comfort in how quickly WOPD makes arrests and solves what crime does happen, as that word does get out to the criminal element and is, in itself, a deterrent.
Concerned Citzen August 26, 2012 at 01:23 AM
AGREED! Tom G I love what you said. You are spot on!


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