A teenager tricked into coming to Englewood for what he thought was a meeting with a woman he’d connected with on Instagram instead had his valuables stolen at gunpoint by a trio of robbers.
Xavier Medina, 18, lured the 17-year-old victim from North Bergen to the area of Lake Street and Broad Avenue shortly before 2 a.m. Jan. 8, Detective Capt. Timothy Torell said Friday.
The victim went there “with the prospect of meeting a female,” Torell said.
Instead, he was accosted by three robbers, one of whom pointed a gun at his chest while the others took his backpack, iPhone and AirPods, the captain said.
The victim ran off and called police using the phone of a passing motorist who stopped to help him.
Officers from Englewood, Leonia and the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office searched the area with no luck.
Detectives swiftly identified Medina, obtained an arrest warrant and, assisted by the department’s Emergency Service Unit, raided his Lake Street home early Tuesday.
“Evidence was recovered in connection with this and possibly other crimes,” Torell said.
Medina was charged with first-degree armed robbery, conspiracy and weapons possession. Police sent him to the Bergen County Jail, where he remained Friday.
Having already charged Medina in that case – and a local man with using a buy/sell app to rob unsuspecting victims -- Englewood detectives continue to investigate similar crimes that they say either may have been involved in.
In one, a 21-year-old Paramus woman went to the McDonalds on West Palisade Avenue, where the prospective buyer paid in counterfeit money before fleeing, Torell said.
Several days later, a 27-year-old Fort Lee man had an iPhone snatched from his hand after he met what was supposed to be a buyer at the Starbucks on East Palisade Avenue, the captain said.
SEE: Englewood detectives have tied a local man to a series of robberies of people who came to the city from different towns trying to sell items through the “Letgo” buy/sell app.
Anyone who has information that could help the detectives is asked to contact Crimestoppers, which offers up to $1,000 in cash rewards.
Tips can be made anonymously by calling 844-466-6789 24 hours a day, seven days a week, or at www.bergencrimestoppers.org.
Citizens also have the option of calling Englewood detectives directly: (201) 568-4875.
Meanwhile, Englewood police are setting up an “Internet Safe Exchange Zone” at the city's Public Safety Complex with the help of “OfferUp.”
Torell also urged people to take certain precautions when meeting those they don’t know, especially in unfamiliar locations.
• Always meet during daylight hours.
• Always bring your own cell phone along in case of an emergency. People should know that most deactivated cell phones without a service connection will allow a 9-1-1 call to be made on it.
• Always notify friends or family of your intentions to meet with someone.
• Always bring someone with you.
• Never invite strangers to your home or agree to meet at a stranger’s home.
Better yet: Insist on meeting at or outside a police station. A criminal likely won't agree.
If you do become a victim of a crime during a meeting, try and get a good description of the suspect’s appearance BUT NEVER pursue them, Torell said.
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