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Police Blotter: Drug, DUI and Prostitution Arrests...

Here's a roundup of notable police activity in Lawrence Township from Jan. 10 through Jan. 31.

 

Burglary

At 6:02 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 27, a 36-year-old resident of Drift Avenue called police to report that someone had stolen three motorcycles from his shed sometime around 4 o’clock that morning, according to Lt. Charles Edgar, spokesman for Lawrence Township police.

The resident told police he awoke to the sound of motorcycle engines revving away from his house. When he looked outside, Edgar said, the man discovered that the lock on his shed had been forced open and his three motorcycles – worth over $2,500 – were gone. The motorcycles were a blue Yamaha PW50, a red and white Honda CR125, and a red Honda CRF70F.

Officer Shaun Sexton and detectives are investigating, Edgar said.

*   *   *

Attempted Burglary

At 9:36 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 1, a 54-year-old resident of Denow Road called police to report that someone tried to pry open a window at the rear of her home, possibly sometime between 9:30 and 10:30 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 30, Edgar said, adding that the interior of the house was not disturbed and nothing appeared to have been stolen. He said Officer Robert Loveless and detectives are investigating the crime.

*   *   *

Attempted Burglary

At 4:37 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 28, police responded to a house on Graf Avenue after residents there discovered pry marks on two rear windows suggesting that someone had tried – unsuccessfully – to break into the home, Edgar said, noting that the burglary attempt was believed to have taken place sometime during the previous week.

*   *   *

Theft

Components from two air conditioning units – worth an estimated total of about $80,000 – and a heat pump valued at $6,000 were stolen from a vacant building in the 200 block of Bakers Basin Road, Edgar said, explaining that a real estate broker who went to check on the property discovered the items missing and notified police at 9:49 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 16. The crime is believed to have occurred sometime within the preceding month.

*   *   *

Theft

At 5:04 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 20, Officer Suzanne Girard was sent to Slackwood Presbyterian Church in the 2000 block of Brunswick Pike (Business Route 1) to investigate the theft of a $500 laptop computer from a church office, Edgar said. A clerk went to use the computer on Jan. 16 and discovered it missing. After checking with other church members to make sure no one else had the computer, the clerk called police. The clerk told police the computer was last seen on Nov. 27 and may have been taken when the church was unlocked for worship services.

*   *   *

Drug Possession

Two Rider University students were arrested about 12:30 a.m. Monday, Jan. 30, and each charged with possession of under 50 grams of marijuana, according to Edgar.

Officer Thomas Maple was on patrol when he observed a vehicle drive around to the rear of a pizzeria on Lawrenceville-Pennington Road, near Lawrence Road. Knowing the restaurant was closed, Maple went to investigate, Edgar said.

Upon approaching the vehicle to question the driver and passenger about what they were doing, Maple spotted a quantity of suspected marijuana in plain view inside the auto, Edgar said.

As a result, he said, the two men – identified as 19-year-old Vincenzo P. Gavrity of the 1300 block of Huguenot Avenue, Staten Island, N.Y., and 18-year-old Scott Michael Taylor of the 300 block of McBaine Avenue, Staten Island, N.Y. – were both taken into custody on the possession charge.

*   *   *

Drug Possession

Two Lawrence Township men – Vincenzo A. Lubrano, 19, of Jill Lane and Deep B. Patel, 18, of the 300 block of Fountayne Lane – were arrested about 6 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 27, and each charged with possession of under 50 grams of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia, Edgar said.

Lubrano’s 2003 Infinity was stopped in the 2200 block of Princeton Pike after Officers Richard Laird III and Matthew Grossi noticed an “equipment violation” on the vehicle, Edgar said. He said the officers smelled an odor of what they believed was burnt marijuana as they approached the vehicle to interview the driver.

He said Lubrano and Patel were taken into custody after a subsequent investigation by the officers revealed a small quantity of marijuana and drug paraphernalia in the car.

Lubrano was and charged with driving under the influence and related offenses. 

*   *   *

Drug Possession

Maximillian W. Schmidt, 18, of Tracey Drive in Lawrence Township and Charles E. Borlaug, 19, of Perry Drive in Ewing Township were arrested at 1:20 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 21, and each charged with possession of under 50 grams of marijuana, Edgar said.

Officer Erini Papafilipakis was on patrol when she spotted a vehicle parked illegally – with its back end sticking dangerously out into traffic – on Myrtle Avenue, Edgar said. Schmidt and Borlaug returned to the vehicle as the officer was writing up the violation, As she was interviewing them, he said, Papafilipakis allegedly discovered marijuana in the auto and took them into custody.    

*   *   *

Drug Possession

Jamie R. Strasser, 18, of Winthrop Road in Lawrence Township was arrested shortly before 7 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 16, and charged with possession of marijuana under 50 grams, possession with intent to distribute in a school zone, possession of drug paraphernalia, criminal mischief and other offenses, Edgar said.

He said Strasser’s vehicle was stopped near the corner of Fernwood Lane and Drexel Avenue for investigative purposes after officers allegedly observed him “conduct a suspicious act” at the rear of the auto in a parking lot on Lawrence Road (Route 206). As they interviewed Strasser, officers saw what they suspected was marijuana in plain view in the vehicle, Edgar said.

After being arrested, Strasser became angry that his vehicle was being impounded and towed to the police station, Edgar said. He said Strasser allegedly kicked at the window of the police car in which he had been placed, causing damage to the window’s frame.

*   *   *

Drug Possession

Bradley Buxton, 18, of the 200 block of Coil Soil Road, Lawrence Township, was arrested about 5:40 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 15, and charged with possession of marijuana under 50 grams, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of Xanax without a prescription, according to Edgar

Officer Matthew Grossi stopped the 2002 Cadillac that Buxton was driving on Lawrence Road (Route 206) after Grossi observed the car cross over the road’s double-yellow line and he also saw Buxton toss a food container out the driver’s window in the area of Darrah Lane, Edgar said.

While interviewing Buxton, he said, Grossi allegedly saw some pills in plain view inside the vehicle. Further investigation revealed the pills were Xanax for which Buxton did not have a prescription, he said, adding that a small quantity of marijuana and a hollowed-out cigar were also discovered.

*   *   *

Drugs Found

At 11:47 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 13, workers at a construction site on Darrah Lane East called police to report that they had just found a small amount of marijuana concealed inside an unlabeled pill container on the work site, Edgar said. He said Officer Robert Wagner was assigned the investigation.

*   *   *

Prostitution Arrests

Two women from out of state were arrested Friday, Jan. 13, and charged with allegedly operating a prostitution business from one of the rooms at the Red Roof Inn in the 3200 block of Brunswick Pike (Route 1), Edgar said.

He said the women – identified as 42-year-old Li Zhang of Flushing, N.Y., and 56-year-old Shenyi  Zhang of Sacramento, Calif. – were each charged with engaging in prostitution.

The women’s arrests were the result of an investigation that began when police spotted an online advertisement which, they suspected, was an offer for sex-for-money in Lawrence Township, Edgar said, noting that detectives routinely scan print and web-based advertisements and, as a result, .

In this case, an undercover officer made contact with the women and arranged a meeting at the Red Roof Inn, Edgar said. During that meeting, he said, the women allegedly agreed to perform sexual services in exchange for money. As that point, other officers who had been waiting outside entered the room and took the women into custody.

*   *   *

Driving Under the Influence

Jonilda Agushi, a 21-year-old resident of Lodi who is attending Rider University, was arrested about 1 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 24, on suspicion of drunk driving, according to Edgar.

He said Officer Erini Papafilipakis stopped Agushi’s vehicle after allegedly observing her drive in an “erratic manner” and her vehicle go over the curb along Lawrence Road (Route 206) in the area of Notre Dame High School.

Agushi allegedly had a “strong odor of alcoholic beverage” about her, prompting Officer Papafilipakis to administer field sobriety tests, Edgar said. He said Agushi was arrested after she performed poorly on those tests and was charged with driving under the influence, DUI in a school zone, reckless driving, careless driving and driving without liability insurance.

*   *   *

Driving Under the Influence

William Ditmar, 70, of the 800 block of Pennsylvania Avenue, Trenton, was arrested about 2:40 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 18, and charged with driving under the influence, reckless driving, careless driving, resisting arrest, and obstruction, Edgar said.

He said police responded to Hopatcong Drive and stopped Ditmar after they received a complaint from a witness alleging that Ditmar had been driving his 1995 Plymouth Voyager van in an “erratic manner” along Brunswick Pike and had run into a fire hydrant while trying to complete a K-turn on Hopatcong Drive. The hydrant did not sustained any obvious damage.

Ditmar allegedly had a “strong odor of alcoholic beverage on his breath” when officers approached him, Edgar said. He said the 70-year-old allegedly refused to present his hands to be handcuffed and was generally uncooperative with officers when they arrested him. In addition to the above charges, Ditmar was charged in connection with outstanding warrants from Trenton, Ewing and Highland Park totaling more than $9,000, Edgar said.

*   *   *

Driving Under the Influence

John Zegarski, 53, of the 700 block of Pilgrim Avenue, Lawrence Township, was arrested about 11:15 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 11, and charged with driving under the influence, reckless driving, refusing to submit to a breath test and impeding traffic, according to Edgar.

Zegarski’s 2001 Honda Accord was stopped in the middle of roadway, blocking traffic, when Officer James Larkin turned his patrol car onto Pilgrim Avenue, Edgar said. He said Zegarski’s car allegedly did not move when Larkin shined a light on it; it only pulled to the side of the road after Larkin sounded his patrol car’s horn.

Edgar said Zegarski “seemed drowsy” and had a “strong odor” of alcohol on his breath when Larkin approached him.

*   *   *

Fraud

Teresa Lynn Bloom, 44, of Sanford, N.C., was arrested at the PNC Bank branch on Franklin Corner Road about 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 11, and charged with forgery, wrongful impersonation, and theft by deception, Edgar said.

Bloom was taken into custody after bank staff called police to report that she was allegedly trying to use fake credentials to withdraw money from the account of a 74-year-old woman who lives in Pittsburgh, Pa., Edgar said, noting that the 74-year-old had recently reported her identification and other personal items stolen in Boca Raton, Fla.

*   *   *

Counterfeiting

At 8 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 14, staff at the J.C. Penney department store in Quaker Bridge Mall, located in the 3300 block of Brunswick Pike (Route 1), reported that three men between the ages of 17 and 25 had used counterfeit $20 bills to purchase $800 worth of cookware about a half-hour earlier, Edgar said. He said township detectives and the U.S. Secret Service are investigating the crime, along with other recent cases of counterfeit bills being passed at the mall.  

*   *   *

Fraud

A 19-year-old Lawrence Township woman called police at 7:23 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 15, to report that someone stole her wallet while she was working at the Claire’s Boutiques store at Quaker Bridge Mall, Edgar said. He said the woman told police her wallet had been in a backroom at the store and the theft may have taken place between 11 a.m. and 12:10 p.m.

Credit cards that had been in the stolen wallet were used to make fraudulent purchases at CVS, Walgreens and Target stores, all outside of Lawrence Township, according to Edgar.  

*   *   *

Receiving Stolen Property

A routine traffic stop lead to the arrests of three people suspected of having stolen two flat-screen televisions from the Toys R Us store in the 3200 block of Brunswick Pike (Route 1).

Edgar said Sgt. Tim Drew was traveling along Brunswick Pike in the area of Quaker Bridge Mall about 4:40 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 16, when he observed a Toyota Avalon heading north that had a loud, malfunctioning exhaust system.

Drew stopped the vehicle and became suspicious when the driver and two passengers appeared to grow nervous and gave conflicting stories while being interviewed, Edgar said. He said Drew spotted two brand-new 32-inch TVs in the back of the vehicle. The TVs had tags on them indicating they may have come from Toys R Us.

Other officers went to the nearby Toys R Us store and learned that the two TVs had been stolen a short while earlier.

The car’s three occupants – Edward E. Ratliff, 40, of Bayard Street, New Brunswick; Lisa A. Johnson, 45, of Phillips Avenue, Trenton; and Juanita M. Clark, 27, of Winchester, Va. – were each charged with receiving stolen property, Edgar said. He said the investigation into the actually shoplifting is continuing. 

*   *   *

Suicide

Shortly before 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 18, the body of a 33-year-old Somerset County man was discovered inside a van parked at the side of the road on Carter Road, near Rosedale Road. Following an investigation by township police and the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office, the death has been ruled a suicide, Edgar said. 

*   *   *

Theft

Officer Chris Stylianou is investigating the theft of seven iPhones and a digital tablet – worth a total of more than $3,400 – from the Sprint kiosk at Quaker Bridge Mall, Edgar said.

He said the crime, which was discovered after employees conducted an inventory check, was reported at 4:14 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 25, and is believed to have taken place between 2 p.m. on Jan. 21 and 3 p.m. on Jan. 23. No evidence of forced entry to the kiosk was found.

*   *   *

Attempted Theft

At 1 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 15, police were notified that a man – described as white, 6 feet to 6 feet 3 inches tall, 210 to 230 pounds, with a medium build, wearing a baseball cap, dark pants and a dark jacket – had just tried to steal empty beer kegs from Hub City Distribution on Princess Road, Edgar said. He said the man fled empty-handed, in a black sport utility vehicle, after he was confronted by an employee.

*   *   *

Theft

At 2:18 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 21, police were notified that two empty beer kegs were stolen from Hub City Distribution on Princess Road between noon and 2 p.m. that day, Edgar said. There was no suspect description available.

*   *   *

Theft

A 44-year-old resident of Michigan Avenue called police at 8 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 14, to report that sometime overnight someone entered her unlocked 2011 Dodge Nitro and stole about $6 in loose change, Edgar said, noting that Officer Andrew Lee is investigating.

*   *   *

Criminal Mischief

Township police are investigating who spray-painted graffiti on the Interstate 295 overpass on Bakers Basin Road near Black Road and on the Delaware & Raritan Canal pedestrian bridge spanning Brunswick Pike (Route 1), Edgar said. Police were informed of the graffiti at 3:34 p.m. and 5:07 p.m., respectively, on Sunday, Jan. 15.

 

Anyone with information about any of the above crimes is asked to call Lawrence Township police at (609) 896-1111.

A copy of Lawrence Township's police dispatch log for Tuesday, Jan. 10, through Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2012, can be viewed from the PDF box above. This log lists all significant calls for service and incidents for which officers filed a written report. Routine administrative assignments are omitted. Some data has been redacted to protect the identity of crime victims.

 

See Also:

Feb. 3:

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Feb. 1:

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Jan. 31:

Jan. 27:

Jan. 25:

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