Strong-armed Robbery Arrest

On July 1, 2021, Afamefuna Nwandu, a 35-year-old male from Flanders NJ, was arrested for a strong-armed robbery that occurred in the CVS parking lot located at 387 Pompton Avenue. The robbery took place on June 28th, when a township resident met a prospective buyer of his old cell phone. Mr. Nwandu physically took the cell phone and fled in his vehicle. The victim provided a detailed description of the suspect and his vehicle. A felony vehicle entry was placed in the NCIC system and his vehicle was later stopped by the Fairfield Police Department. Cedar Grove detectives responded to the scene and subsequently arrested Mr. Nwandu. A search warrant for his vehicle was approved by the Essex County Prosecutors Office which revealed drug paraphernalia and cellular phone SIM cards related to the theft. Mr. Nwandu was charged with theft, robbery, and possession of drug paraphernalia. He was lodged in the Essex County Jail pending his appearance in Superior Court.

Car Burglary and Police Pursuit

On June 1st 2021 at 02:31 am a Timber Rock Court resident reported two suspicious persons in his driveway near his vehicle. The caller feels that the subjects noticed him watching and fled. They were last seen entering a black Mercedes SUV. Officers flooded the area searching for the suspect vehicle. They were located on foot running from an Eileen Drive driveway, then fled into the Mercedes. Officers pursued the Mercedes down Vincent Road onto Route 23 South. Once on Route 23 the suspect vehicle accelerated to speeds well over 100 mile per hour. Due to the risk and the distance between the suspect vehicle and the patrol units becoming too great, the pursuit was terminated. 

Subsequent, checks at the Eileen Drive residence revealed that the unlocked parked vehicle had been searched through looking for keys or a key fob. Nothing was reported missing at this time. The alert resident and the quick reporting clearly thwarted the ongoing criminal activities of the suspects in Cedar Grove. The burglaries and thefts are an ongoing regional issue and are not exclusive to the Township. These activities can be significantly reduced by eliminating the opportunity. Once again “Please lock and remove the keys and valuables from your vehicles”. Extra patrols have been assigned to the Park Ridge Estate Development. If you should observe suspicious activity or a crime, contact police immediately. It is not safe to investigate, follow or go looking for the actors on your own. This matter is an open investigation.

  Chief J. Cirasa   

Stolen Motor Vehicle

On May 21, 2021 at 5:10 am officers responded to a report of a motor vehicle theft on Winding Way.  It was reported that a white Pontiac G6 was stolen from the driveway.  Officer Justin Westra was close to the scene and within a minute of the call, observed the vehicle attempt to flee the area.  The operator of the stolen vehicle observed the patrol vehicle, stopped and reversed away from the officer.  While attempting to reverse the vehicle away from the officer, the operator crashed onto the front lawn of a residential home, narrowly missing an occupied vehicle behind him as well as a parked vehicle on the roadway.  The suspect then fled on foot toward the West Essex Trail.

     Neighboring jurisdictions were notified and responded to the scene to set up a perimeter.  The suspect was located hiding in a dumpster by a Little Falls Police Officer.  He was taken into custody and transported to a local hospital to be treated for minor injuries sustained from the incident.   He was later released from the hospital and charged with theft of a motor vehicle and obstruction of administration of the law, as well as several motor vehicle summonses. 

     The alert actions of the resident observing the vehicle theft and immediately calling 9-1-1, along with the swift actions of the officers on duty, resulted in the arrest of the suspect.  Anyone observing any suspicious activity relating to this incident, or any other suspicious activity, should contact the police department.

Operation Take Back

The Cedar Grove Police Department will be participating in the bi-annual Operation Take Back Program sponsored by the Drug Enforcement Agency. This program enables the public to get rid of unused, unwanted and expired medications properly.

Prescription drug abuse is rapidly becoming one of our nation’s greatest emerging drug problems and it is widely recognized that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from home medicine cabinets. In addition to this growing drug problem, unused and expired prescription medications also represent a severe environmental hazard. Most individuals are not aware of methods to properly dispose of their unused medicine, often flushing them down the toilet or throwing them away; both potential safety and health hazards.

This service is free and anonymous, with no questions asked.

Date: Saturday, April 24, 2021

Hours:  10:00 am – 2:00 pm
Location:  Cedar Grove Police Department – 525 Pompton Avenue, Cedar Grove

For more information about the Operation Take Back program visit www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov

Officers Encounter Ends in Burglary Arrest

The incident began Saturday, February 20th at 02:46 am, when an alert patrol officer observed a male subject sitting on a guardrail along Ridge Road. Officer Michael Passafiume initiated contact with the subject and while doing so he notice a cardboard box containing several packs of Lava E-Cigarettes. The box was partially buried in the snow on the other side of the guardrail next to the subjects backpack. The 18 year old subject, later identified as Julian Lopez of Cedar Grove, claimed the E-Cigarettes were not his and couldn’t provide a reasonable explanation for his actions. He was not entered as missing nor were there were any outstanding warrants. Additionally Lopez refused any assistance, so contact was terminated. The E-Cigarettes were secured as recovered property.

On Saturday, February 20th at 7:02 am, officers responded to 597 Pompton Avenue, the Krauzers Store, on a report of a burglary and theft that had occurred overnight. The proprietor reported missing lottery cash and E-Cigarettes.

On Saturday, February 20th at 11:25 am, officers responded to another 597 Pompton Avenue Store, Sonny’s Yogurt, on a report of an attempted burglary that had also occurred overnight. Unknown actor(s) had entered through an AC unit/vent on the roof in an attempt to gain entry into the business.

Cedar Grove Detectives responded and processed the both scenes. Evidence collected including shoe prints and store security video footage revealed sufficient probable cause that Lopez had committed the burglaries. An arrest warrant was authorized by the Essex County Prosecutors Office and a Cedar Grove Municipal Court Judge. He was charged with Burglary, Theft, and Criminal Mischief.

On Saturday, February 20th 2021 at 5:30 pm Detectives and Officers then responded to the subject’s residence where he was arrested without incident. The accused was processed and subsequently transported to the Essex County Jail to await a bail hearing.

“The officers’ actions were key. The subsequent thorough investigation in conjunction with the diligence of the Officer Passafiume clearly enable this agency to bring this investigation to a successful conclusion”.

                                                                Chief Joseph Cirasa

All persons charged are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

The Cedar Grove Police Department requests that the public report all suspicious activity observed, as it occurs. The police department non-emergency telephone number is 973-239-4100 and in cases of emergency 9-1-1.  

Operation Take Back

The Cedar Grove Police Department will be participating in the bi-annual Operation Take Back Program sponsored by the Drug Enforcement Agency. This program enables the public to get rid of unused, unwanted and expired medications properly.

Prescription drug abuse is rapidly becoming one of our nation’s greatest emerging drug problems and it is widely recognized that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from home medicine cabinets. In addition to this growing drug problem, unused and expired prescription medications also represent a severe environmental hazard. Most individuals are not aware of methods to properly dispose of their unused medicine, often flushing them down the toilet or throwing them away; both potential safety and health hazards.

This service is free and anonymous, with no questions asked.

Date: Saturday, October 24, 2020

Hours:  10:00 am – 2:00 pm
Location:  Cedar Grove Police Department – 525 Pompton Avenue, Cedar Grove

For more information about the Operation Take Back program visit www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov