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Public Safety Update: Carjackings, Police Chief Speaks

by Stephanie Spear
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While most of us think that Hoboken has a small-town feel, it does have some big-city problems. Rats and parking are two issues that come to mind, but this year has seen three carjacking incidents take place in Hoboken. This week, Hoboken Police hosted a public safety forum for residents and issued an alert seeking suspects in a January carjacking. Read on for more about the three carjackings, the public safety meeting, and what the Hoboken Chief of Police has to say.

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What to Know

Hoboken’s Chief of Police is Chief Steve Aguiar, a Hoboken native, and a 20+ year veteran. He shared the following statement via a spokesperson:

“The Hoboken Police Department is always concerned when criminal incidents occur in the City. I have full faith and confidence in our Department to maintain the upmost safety for our residents and visitors. I do not have the specific data regarding carjackings throughout the state, but I do see several carjackings occurring on a regular basis when reported through the NJSP. As for here in Hoboken, we have noticed an uptick when compared to this time last year, but I would not label it as incidents on the rise.”

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The City hosts regular public meetings on safety, called CAPS (Community and Public Safety) Forums. These events are held by the City of Hoboken and the Hoboken Public Safety Department every few months, in different neighborhoods throughout Hoboken. Representatives from the Police and Fire Departments, Office of Emergency Management (OEM), and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) are at each event to connect with the community, answer questions, and have conversations about best practices for public safety in the Mile Square City.

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The most recent meeting took place on Tuesday, February 20th. Chief Aguiar and Hoboken Public Safety Director Ken Ferrante fielded questions from residents about a variety of topics, and the carjackings were one of them. According to TapIntoHoboken, one of Chief Aguiar’s main concerns about policing in the city generally was the force’s lack of experience. “One-third of officers have less than six years of experience,” he said. That, coupled with the looming wave of retirements, makes for a challenging staffing environment. “I would love to put a cop on every corner but it’s not feasible,” he said. 

 

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Three Incidents

A third carjacking incident was recently reported — all within a few weeks’ timeframe. Marci Rubin, spokesperson for the Hoboken Police Department, shared the following information:

“The Hoboken Police Department confirms there was an attempted carjacking on the 1000 block of Garden Street at approximately 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024. No one was injured and the attempt was unsuccessful. Within 24 hours of the report, Detectives identified two actors including a juvenile who was charged with carjacking and conspiracy to commit carjacking. A warrant has been issued for an adult, whose identity will be released upon arrest. Anyone with further information is asked to contact Det. Tyler Soto at [email protected].”

On January 15th, at around 11:30PM, an armed carjacking occurred in Hoboken near the Stevens Institute of Technology Campus, on the 600 block of Sinatra Drive. Though the victim is not affiliated with the school, the incident happened close enough to campus that it warranted a community message from the Stevens Chief of Police. See the full message below:

“On, January 15, at approximately 11:30pm, an Armed Carjacking occurred near our campus. At that time, an individual who is not affiliated with the Stevens Institute of Technology, parked his 2008 Honda Accord on the 600 block of Sinatra Drive, Hoboken. He left his vehicle momentarily and upon reentering his vehicle, the driver was approached by 3 unknown male subjects, all wearing dark clothing and ski-masks. At that point, one of the individuals brandished a handgun and struck the driver on the head several times with the gun. A second individual produced a knife and threatened the driver who was then forced to the ground. The three individuals then entered the vehicle and fled South on Sinatra Drive leaving the victim injured on the ground. The victim immediately contacted police and was treated at the scene for his injuries by EMTs.

Police officers from both Hoboken and Stevens Police Departments combed the area attempting to locate the stolen vehicle and actors, but to no avail. These two law enforcement agencies will continue to work together to identify the actors and bring them to justice.”

Regarding the situation, a spokesperson from the City of Hoboken shared with The Hoboken Girl: “I can confirm that the Hoboken Police Department’s Investigations Bureau is actively investigating a carjacking which occurred in the area of Sixth Street and Sinatra Drive in the late evening hours of Jan. 15, 2024. Officers are attempting to locate the stolen vehicle, which is a blue, 2-door, 2008 Honda Accord.” She went on to share, “anyone with any information is encouraged to contact Detective Bret Globke at [email protected].”

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On Friday, February 23rd, Hoboken police shared the following update on this case. Via a press release, police announced an additional four persons of interest:

“The Hoboken Police Department is seeking public assistance to identify seven persons of interest wanted in connection with a carjacking on Jan. 15, 2024. The incident occurred at approximately 11:36 p.m., on the 600 block of Sinatra Drive, when three individuals in ski masks approached a victim and pulled him out of his car demanding his cellphone. The victim reported one individual produced a gun and hit him in the head with it, and another threatened him with a large combat-style knife. The individuals took the cellphone and fled in the vehicle, which had personal property inside, including power tools and recording equipment worth a total value of approximately $2,300. The Hoboken Volunteer Ambulance Corps arrived to treat the victim who had injuries to the head. He refused further medical attention. Responding officers located the cell phone in Hoboken while canvassing the area that night. The vehicle, a 2008 Honda Accord, was located a few days later in the Bronx and the recording equipment was found in Jersey City. Further investigation by Detective Bret Globke and the Hoboken Detectives Bureau revealed an additional four other individuals were involved in this crime. Anyone who can identify the individuals in the released photos or video, or with more information, is asked to contact Det. Globke at [email protected] or Sgt. William Collins at [email protected].”

Another carjacking occurred near St. Ann Roman Catholic Church on January 5th. An arrest has since been made. See the full message regarding the incident below from a spokesperson for the City of Hoboken:

“On Friday, Jan. 5, 2024, at approximately 9:45 p.m. Police Officers Anthony Azzoline and H Montalvo responded to the area of Seventh and Madison Streets on report of a carjacking. Lt. Olivera, Sgt. McCourt, Sgt. Falco, and officers Vega, Willey, Muller, and Bates were also on scene. The victim told officers that they parked their 2022 black Audi SUV on the west side of Madison Street to remove their groceries and bag from the car when an unknown man approached, brandished a firearm, and demanded their keys. The actor then got into the vehicle and drove away, fleeing the scene. Following review of area security footage and a week-long investigation by the Hoboken Police Department’s Investigations Burau, Hoboken Police Officers arrested 21-year-old Leonard Souza of Livingston, NJ, on Jan. 12, 2024. He was charged with carjacking and conspiracy to commit carjacking. He was transported to the Hudson County Correctional Facility.”

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