TRENTON — A convicted thief walked past an unmanned security post at city police headquarters and made his way into the detective bureau, where he allegedly stole a cop radio, a computer monitor and a sergeant’s attache case.
Anthony J. Williams, 41, who has served prison time for burglary and robbery, allegedly struck early Sunday and was busted soon after because he allegedly tried to sell the police radio to customers in line at a Taco Bell drive through.
Police said one customer snatched the radio off Williams and called 911 not long after officers heard civilian chatter on the police band and realized it was coming from the radio of Detective Sgt. Carmelo Rodriguez. The sergeant then checked his desk in the bureau and found out his Kenneth Cole attache case also was missing.
Why no one was at the security post in the headquarters lobby, called “the bubble” by cops, and why the door to the detective bureau on the third floor apparently was left unlocked were questions internal affairs investigators were trying to answer yesterday.
Sgt. Pedro Medina, Trenton’s police spokesman, said cops got involved shortly before 1 a.m. Sunday when they heard an obvious civilian voice saying something about South Broad Street on the police radio.
“First he started broadcasting on the radio, which alerted people in communications,” Medina said. Broadcasted on channel 1, the main police frequency, the chatter was quickly recognized as coming from Rodriguez’ hand-held radio.
After returning to headquarters and finding the detective bureau ransacked and his designer bag missing, Rodriguez vaguely remembered seeing a guy on the third floor earlier in the night. Within minutes, officers on the street were radioed with a description of the suspect.
Trenton’s police tech expert, Detective Charlie Harris, was then called in to look over the surveillance videos, which had captured all the action on the first and third floors of headquarters.
Meanwhile, according to police, Williams had positioned himself near the drive-thru window at Taco Bell on South Broad, where he allegedly made several attempts to sell the police radio.
At 1:11 a.m., Medina said Williams pushed the radio into the open window of a vehicle in the Taco Bell line being driven by Rahkeem Ortiz, who ended up calling 911 to tell them he had police property after snatching it off the suspect.
Police were dispatched to Mellon Street, where Ortiz returned the property and accompanied them back to headquarters.
At about 1:15, police officers near Grand and Cass streets stopped a man who matched a description of the headquarters intruder.
Police then brought Ortiz to the stop area and he positively identified Williams as the guy who allegedly attempted to sell him the police radio.
Rodriguez also went to the South Ward intersection and fingered Williams as the guy he had seen on the third floor of police headquarters earlier in the night.
A further review of a video showed that Williams had made a failed first attempt to get into the bureau at 12:10 a.m. but was ordered out of the building.
Medina said security procedures apparently were breached and that a full investigation would follow.
Medina did not identify which police officer should have been working the “bubble” area or the cop’s whereabouts while Williams allegedly walked in and out with the stolen goods, including the bulking computer monitor, which cops found later stashed near the gas pumps in the rear of headquarters.
Citing fear of retaliation by the top brass, several police officers said they would speak only on the condition of anonymity.
“Security is a major concern here, but we have officers who prop doors open to what are supposed to be secure areas,” an officer said.
Another officer said a first-floor door to the upper floors is “regularly left unlocked. Not to mention that someone is supposed to be in the bubble. Plus, the elevator should be shut down during some hours of the night.”
Finally, a third officer described the potential for a “much more serious situation. What if somebody gets up there with a gun? We could be looking at something a lot worse than a burglary,” he said.
Medina also said the doors “are supposed to be locked and there is supposed to be someone in the ‘bubble.’ I don’t want to think of a worst-case scenario but we must keep in mind that bad things can happen,” Medina said.
Williams, whose New Jersey Department of Corrections record shows his first incarceration came in 1988, was charged by Trenton with several violations, including theft and hindering apprehension.
His record also shows convictions for robbery, theft, and “burlgary — entering a structure.’’ He also served time for violating his parole and has no fewer than four aliases, including “Red’’ and “Tony Williams’’ — the name he gave cops after his latest arrest.
Click to view image: 'Williams'
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