Police: Mall Carjackings May Be Related
At two malls, days apart, police probe connection after descriptions and video show similarities.
Livingston Police believe there may be a connection between a violent attempted carjacking at the Mall of Short Hills last week and a carjacking at the Livingston Mall a few days earlier, police said, based in part on surveillance video from the parking lot at the Mall of Short Hills and eyewitness descriptions of the suspect in each case.
In Livingston, a 44-year-old local woman escaped serious injury in a harrowing encounter with a carjacker who took her car, a 2004 Honda Civic that has not been recovered, police said.
In Short Hills, a 53-year-old man was pistol whipped in the face and head with a handgun when he refused to give a suspect the keys to his new BMW.
Millburn Police have surveillance video of the suspect fleeing the mall in a car that appears to be a Honda Civic, Detective Sgt. Anthony Dippold of Livingston said.
“We feel it may be related,” Dippold said.
Millburn Police Lt. Peter Eakley would release no further information Thursday and would not comment on the investigation.
The suspect in the crimes was wearing a hooded sweatshirt and carried a gun. Milburn police recovered the weapon after it was dropped in the Mall of Short Hills parking lot, Dippold said.
In Livingston, the suspect tapped on the driver’s side window with an umbrella after the Livingston resident parked around 8 p.m. into a spot close to the mall’s Food Court entrance on a rainy Tuesday night, Sept. 6. When she rolled down her window to ask what he wanted, the suspect unlocked her door, pointed what appeared to be a gun hidden beneath the sweatshirt, and forced her from the car. The suspect fled in the woman’s Honda Civic.
On Friday, Sept. 9, around 8:40 p.m., a resident of Atlantic Highlands had finished his shopping and was returning to his 2011 BMW in Lot J, which is along Route 124, when confronted. He was struck in the head with a gun when he refused to give the suspect his keys, police said.
“As the victim screamed in terror, the perpetrator obtained the keys and ran in an unknown direction, never taking the vehicle,” Eakley said at the time.
Dippold said police have black and white video of a man matching the description leaving the mall in a car that resembles a Honda Civic.
Officers were nearby when the man started yelling at the Short Hills Mall because they were making an arrest in a shoplifting case. The man, who was bleeding profusely and couldn’t see well because of his injuries and the blood, saw the flashing car lights and started walking toward police.
Police officers applied first aid and the man was transported by ambulance to Overlook Hospital, where he was treated for head injuries and later released.