UNION, NJ — Members of the Union Police Department responded to the Garden State Motel, 1650 Rt. 22, Friday March 25, at 11:55 p.m., after a woman called 911 and said she was robbed at gunpoint.
Officers on scene investigated the robbery, in which the victim reported that she was supposed to meet up with a man she met via the internet. He showed up with a friend to her room and they pointed guns at her and demanded her money.
They took her money, cell phone and her purse. They used duct tape to tie her up and left the motel room. She was able to free herself and eventually found someone to call 911 for her.
On Saturday, Sgt. Michael Wittevrongel was able to view a surveillance video and saw an image of the suspect’s car and shared this information.
Officer Antoine Colbert, of the Street Crimes Unit, had been in the area of the Garden State Motel prior to the robbery and had recalled checking the license plate of the suspect’s car.
With this information, Sergeant Wittevrongel and other Street Crimes Unit officers found the car parked in Newark. They waited a short time and stopped the car when someone started to drive away. The robbery victim’s identification was visible in the car and the driver was arrested for possession of the stolen property. The car was towed back to police headquarters for further investigation.
Detective Mathew Sakala and Detective Lt. Bob Perez investigated the crime and Sakala obtained a search warrant from a superior court judge to search the home the man came from, and his car. Officers found a quantity of marijuana in the house and other items that appear to be stolen.
The car was searched and other phones, purses and personal possessions from numerous victims were found in the car. The two guns used in the robbery were also found, which, upon inspection, turned out to be imitation guns. The victim later was able to identify the arrestee as one of the men who robbed her.
The man arrested is Joshua Wilkens, a 26-year-old man from Newark. He was charged with armed robbery, handgun possession and receiving stolen property. Other towns have had similar crimes and Wilkens matches the suspect’s description in those cases a well. He is being held at the Union Police Department headquarters pending transfer to the Union County Jail.
This crime is being investigated by Sakala, who is trying to identify the other suspect involved in this armed robbery. If anyone has any information, contact the Union Police Department Detective Bureau at 908-851-5030.