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Essex County Sheriff's Office Investigates Carjacking at Highlawn Pavillion in West Orange

Cynthia Cumming

Tuesday, September 3, 2013 • 2:41pm

WEST ORANGE, NJ - A valet at Highlawn Pavillion was held up at gunpoint on Saturday, Aug. 31, at 9:48 p.m., and 15 sets of keys belonging to guests were taken. A grey Mercedes Benz belonging to one of the guests was subsequently stolen. No injuries were reported.

The incident began around 9:45 p.m. when a white Mercedes Benz E-class vehicle with tinted windows and New York license plates pulled into the front driveway area of the Highlawn Pavillion. The vehicle was occupied by six black males. A 27-year-old valet, an employee of the Carcierge Valet Service approached the vehicle, and one of the occupants, described as a black male with dreadlocks, stepped out of the vehicle and told the valet, "Look at my face."

Brandishing a handgun, he ordered the valet and his co-worker to the ground. The suspect turned and approached the keybox containing the keys of all guests that had their vehicles valet parked and took 15 sets of keys. At this point, the valets escaped without harm.

The valets then observed another suspect enter a grey Mercedes parked near the entrance and drive it away. The white Mercedes also left the scene.

The West Orange Police received a call about a robbery in process and five WOPD patrol cars responded to the Highlawn. The Essex County Sheriff's Office, who has jurisdiction of the Highlawn Pavillion because it is on county property, arrived moments later. 

It was determined that the grey Mercedes belonged to a guest at the Highlawn. The owner, a resident of West Orange, had to have the Essex County Sheriff's Office bring her home to retrieve vehicle identification for the lease vehicle.  

Another set of keys was found on the roadway and processed for prints with negative results. They were returned to the owner. The manager at the Highlawn was in the process of providing a list of vehicles whose keys had been taken to the sheriff's office. Two sheriff's officers were stationed overnight at the Highlawn to make sure all vehicles missing keys remained secure.

The Essex County Prosecutor's Office Crime Scene Unit and the Essex County Prosecutor's Office Carjacking Task Force were also on the scene to investigate the carjacking.  

The grey Mercedes was entered into the system as a Stolen Armed/Hold for Latents. It is unknown at this time if surveillance footage is available. The investigation is ongoing, and updates will be provided as they become available.

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