This release was received from the Springfield Police Department.
During the heavy snow storm on Saturday 02/09/2013 a burglary was reported to have taken place at the Jewelry Plaza located in the center isle of Route 22.
The Springfield Police Department was contacted by NJ-DOT plows that were clearing Route 22 West reporting that it appeared as if a large front end loader construction vehicle had struck the building. Officers responding found the Caterpiller brand front end loader was in the parking lot running and abandonned. Based upon the damage it was obvious that this
large piece of construction equipment was used to crash through the side of the building on the west bound side of the Route 22 highway.
It was later found that, although no jewelry was left in display cases, the suspects had stolen a large 4 foot tall free standing safe that weighed many hundreds of pounds and the safe had been located by the area where the front end loader had crashed into the building. The safe contained jewelry and cash but an exact amount is not yet tabulated.
Police detectives who responded to the scene have determined that the break in occurred at approximately 5:00 am and the large scoop in the front of the loader was used to lift the safe and place it in the rear of a truck, most likely a pick-up truck, with an open bed in the rear. The front end loader was found to have been stolen during the snow storm from a construction site in Hillside. Although it had been blocked in by other construction vehicles at the site the thieves used the loader to smash past the blocking vehicles to drive away.
According to Chief of Police John Cook....."this was a well planned crime as the suspects chose a heavy snow storm to commit the crime and because of the weather conditions this would be the only time that a front end loader, which must be transported on a flat bed trailer, would not arouse much attention as it traveled on Route 22 West from Hillside into Springfield as it would appear it was being used to plow the Route 22 highway".
Springfield police detectives reached out to the Union County Prosecutor's Office Intelligence Unit which was able to supply information on other similar burglaries that were committed else where in New Jersey in past years during equally heavy snow storms and leads are being followed up on.
Anyone with information on this crime or who may have been on Route 22 between Hillside and Springfield and had observed the front end loader on 02/09/2013 between 4:00 am and 5:30 am is asked to contact Detective Keith Doherty or Detective Lieutenant Judd Levenson at the Springfield Police Department (973) 376-0400.