YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Two men were arrested, three more were being sought, and a gun, cash and jewelry were recovered from a rental car that crashed on Route 4 in Englewood following a home invasion and wild police chase, CLIFFVIEW PILOT has learned.
A resident in her 60s was thrown down a flight of stairs in the robbery, which began when the bandits pretended to be PSE&G workers checking a gas leak, Englewood Cliffs Police Chief Michael Cioffi said tonight.
Although she declined medical attention at first, Cioffi said, the woman to an area hospital with pain and soreness.
Citizens helped make the difference in capturing two of the robbers, police said.
Three of them were wearing bandana-styled masks, and two orange utility-style vests, when they knocked on the victim’s door at 1:15, Cioffi said.
“She let them in and they threw her down the stairs,” the chief said.
A neighbor called Englewood Cliffs police after spotting the robbers headed to the house, near the corner of Leighton Street and Mercer Avenue, a law enforcement source told CLIFFVIEW PILOT .
As officers pulled, up, the robbers took off in two vehicles — one a white Infiniti and the other a rented black Dodge sedan, Cioffi said.
Police chased the sedan on side streets into Fort Lee and then onto Route 4 as the Infiniti disappeared.
“At one point, it hit a car on a Fort Lee street, then ran off the road and onto a lawn,” Cioffi said. “It just missed hitting a wall.”
The pursuit continued onto the highway, where the getaway driver tried to pull off at the South Van Brunt Street entrance to the 4 West Diner.
But the vehicle hit a curb and blew two tires, the chief said.
All three occupants then bailed out.
An Englewood police officer caught one trying to hide in a nearby factory after seeing him go in, the source said.
The second was grabbed by Englewood Cliffs Sgt. James Tracy near the Gym at The Brownstones nearby.
The third man apparently kept running through the fitness center lot.
Police credited several patrons and workers at the diner who pointed out where the bandits were headed.
“It was really the equivalent of, ‘They went that way’,” one officer told CLIFFVIEW PILOT .
Both men were taken to Englewood Cliffs police headquarters, where Cioffi said they remained as of nearly 6 p.m. tonight. One told officers he is from Paterson.
“They weren’t carrying any ID,” Cioffi said. “They look to be in the mid-20s.”
A K-9 unit from the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office searched the area for the third man. New Jersey State Police wanted to send a helicopter, but the stormy skies prevented that.
Dozens of officers from Englewood Cliffs, Englewood, Leonia and Fort Lee converged on the scene to assist in the manhunt.
The Van Brunt Street exit off Route 4 was closed.
Police found what appeared to be a handgun on the front seat of the Dodge, along with a significant amount of cash and jewelry in the vehicle, Cioffi said.
“We’re in the process of obtaining a warrant to search the vehicle,” the chief said.
Meanwhile, he said police were hoping for a lead on the Infiniti, which had orange and blue New York license plates and the partial tag: GBR
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