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UPDATE: Pair In NJ State Police Takedown Charged With Gunpoint Home Invasion In Cresskill

Carlos Sanchez (top), James Lanier (bottom)
Carlos Sanchez (top), James Lanier (bottom) Photo Credit: GoogleMaps Street View / Essex County Sheriff

A gunpoint home invasion robbery in Cresskill nearly six months ago was committed by two accused members of a massive auto theft ring smashed by New Jersey State Police, Bergen County Prosecutor Mark Musella said Monday in announcing charges against them.

James Lanier and Carlos Sanchez of Newark are both 24 and have been running together for some time now, records show.

Both were among several defendants arrested during a November 2022 State Police takedown of a ring led by Sanchez that authorities said stole more than 30 high-end vehicles – including BMWs and Land Rovers – that were worth millions.

Although that investigation was centered in Monmouth County, investigators said crew members had also been active in Bergen, Essex, Union, Middlesex, Mercer, Somerset, Ocean, Burlington and Hunterdon counties, as well as in New York State.

Their MO had been to target residences while victims were home. Most late-model vehicles that were swiped got bogus VIN numbers before being retitled and sold online, authorities in South Jersey said.

Police in Franklin Lakes announced in January that they’d tied Lanier and Sanchez to nearly a dozen vehicle and residential burglaries in their town. Charges from other jurisdictions continued to pile up, as well.

Then came word from Musella on March 13 about a late-morning home invasion robbery on Sept. 25, 2022 at a seven-bed, eight-bath home on Kennedy Drive in Cresskill that reportedly sold for $2.33 million less than two years ago.

“A victim who was home at the time of the incident was held at gunpoint in the residence for a substantial period of time and several items were stolen,” the prosecutor said Monday.

The blue BMW that the intruders used had been stolen in another county and was tied to several other crimes, including an attempted burglary and theft on Inness Road in Tenafly the day before the Cresskill incident.

Both men were known to police. Sanchez had prior adult and juvenile convictions and had served time for gun possession.

Musella said he and Lanier were served with complaints last Friday at the Monmouth County Jail, where they’ve been held since State Police nabbed them last November.

Both are charged in Bergen County with first-degree kidnapping and armed robbery counts, as well as aggravated assault, armed burglary, theft, receiving stolen property and various weapons offenses, the prosecutor said.

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