Paramus police responded to the scene of a burglary Sunday night at a BP gas station on Route 4. By the time they'd arrived, the suspect had fled with $400 in a light colored sedan. In little more than 20 minutes, he committed two-more robberies along Route 17 in Mahwah, with a stop at a 7-Eleven in Fair Lawn that netted him $2,500.
In the days that followed, police from all three jurisdictions have searched for the man bold enough to knock off four businesses in a night, and so far evade capture without a distinct physical description from any of his victims, according to police statements.
In each case, the robber was said to be a male wearing a black jacket, a grey hooded sweatshirt, a mask and gloves, who brandished a gun, described by Fair Lawn police as a black revolver, and sped away driving a light-colored sedan, possibly an older model Volkswagen Passat.
But some of his victims have offered conflicting accounts of his appearance, with the 7-Eleven employee in Fair Lawn describing the man as wearing a "surgical mask." By the time he'd made his way to Mahwah, he was seen wearing a gray colored cloth mask.
In Mahwah, he was described as dark-skinned, while store employees in Fair Lawn described his skin tone as "moderate."
"There was so little to see," said Sgt. Brian Metzler of the Fair Lawn Police Department. "Everything was covered up except for his eyes so there’s not much of a description."
While the roads the suspect was said to have traveled can be wide open late on a Sunday night, none of the three departments investigating the robberies could share the exact timing of the crimes. Paramus dispatch places the first call to authorities at 10:43 p.m. while the first robbery in Mahwah, a Valero gas station near Route 287, was reported to police 21 minutes later.
However, Google shows those two points are approximately 13 miles and an 18-minute drive apart, leaving little time to commit both thefts, let alone exit the highway to rob the 7-Eleven on Broadway in Fair Lawn, where local police responded at 10:46 p.m., during the interim.
“There was a gap of time” between the robbery occurring and when the cashier called the police, Metzler said of the thief's quick actions in Fair Lawn. But nevertheless, the speed and efficiency with which he appears to have perpetrated all four robberies would seem daring.
As Mahwah officers responded to the Valero station on Route 17, dispatchers at the township's call center received another reported robbery at a Sunoco gas station at 11:09 p.m. just a half-mile north on the same highway. By the time they arrived at both scenes, the suspect was gone. Again, there was little for the employees to describe aside from a man covered with a hood and a mask who brandished a handgun, and fled northbound driving a light-colored sedan.
The plates on the car came back stolen from elsewhere in New Jersey, Metzler said, leaving the perpetrator's identity all the more concealed.
Mahwah sent a description of the vehicle and suspect to law enforcement in New Jersey and New York. But neither was anywhere to be found, leaving agencies across the area to continue to investigate the nightlong spree and ask the public for help in his capture.
Paramus Police Chief Kenneth Ehrenberg stated the suspect's alleged work may span more than the four convenience stores and gas attendants hit that night, and said he could have been involved in other robberies across Bergen and Passaic counties.
Anyone with information that can aid the investigation is urged to call police in Fair Lawn, Paramus or Mahwah.
This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: Bergen County NJ: Thief robs 4 businesses in one night