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UPDATE: Arrest Made In Nutley Hugging Bandit Case

Thieves with a distinct M.O. stole nearly $1,000 in jewelry from a man in Nutley Sunday, police said.
Thieves with a distinct M.O. stole nearly $1,000 in jewelry from a man in Nutley Sunday, police said. Photo Credit: File

UPDATE, Aug. 23: Police have made an arrest, but one suspect remains at large. Click here for more. 

Original story: 

A man walking down a street in Nutley Sunday apparently fell victim to a scam seen repeatedly across the country and increasingly in New Jersey in recent months.

Nutley police say the victim was walking down Passaic Avenue when a silver Chevy Tahoe with two children and four older people inside pulled up alongside him. A male passenger asked the man if he spoke Spanish and placed gold-colored rings in the victim’s hand as a female wrapped gold chains around the victim’s wrist and neck. She also hugged him.

Shortly after, when the Tahoe had already pulled away south on Passaic Avenue, the man realized the gold bracelet and gold chain he had been wearing were missing, police said. The man’s jewelry had an estimated value of $925. The rings and chains placed on the man have been kept as evidence, police also said.

There have been scattered reports throughout North Jersey of people in an SUV pulling up alongside pedestrians and attempting to give them jewelry in what appears to be an attempt to distract victims. 

The same scam has also been seen in other parts of the country, and has been carried out in almost precisely the same manner as the Nutley incident -- right down to the choice of vehicle.

In November, a white Tahoe pulled up to a 71-year-old man in Linda Vista, California. The vehicle contained a baby and at least two adults, one of whom draped the man in rings and necklaces, ABC 10 News reported. As in the Nutley incident, a woman hugged the man. When the Tahoe pulled away, the victim realized his bracelet, made of 24-karat gold and studded with diamonds, had been taken.

Police in San Diego said they had received multiple reports of similar incidents, which typically targeted older Asian victims. 

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