Police chased a car they believe was stolen from a Sylvan Avenue restaurant in Englewood Cliffs late Friday night all the way to Newark after receiving a report of people trying to break into cars on 6th Street in Englewood Cliffs, authorities said.
Along the way, two Fort Lee police cars were smashed into, and police later discovered a loaded gun in one of the two cars they were chasing, police said.
Just after 11 p.m. Friday, Englewood Cliffs police received a call from a woman who said she saw several people getting out of a black BMW and trying the doors of cars parked along 6th Street before jumping back into the BMW and taking off when she shouted at them, Englewood Cliffs Police Chief Michael Cioffi told Patch.
“Minutes or seconds later, my desk officer receives a call from [Cliff’s Steakhouse], from the manager, that he had started his [black BMW] to warm it up, and somebody jumped in it and took it,” Cioffi said.
The officer alerted the Statewide Police Emergency Network (SPEN), and Fort Lee police picked up the pursuit, according to Cioffi.
Fort Lee police said they picked up the SPEN broadcast put out by Englewood Cliffs about the stolen black BMW X5 with unknown New York registration at about 11:15 p.m.
Police Officer Timothy Cullen of the Fort Lee Police Department spotted a car matching the description on Bridge Plaza North in Fort Lee as it left the line of eastbound traffic with a black Mercedes E350 following close behind, according to police.
Both cars appeared to be traveling east on Bridge Plaza North together “at a high rate of speed,” said Detective Sgt. Ken Porrino of the Fort Lee Police Department.
Cullen tried to pull the cars over using his emergency lights and siren, but neither car stopped, instead heading south on River Road into Edgewater, police said
“In Edgewater, the driver of the [BMW] rammed the front of Police Officer Cullen’s police vehicle with such force that it disabled [the police car],” Porrino said. “The Mercedes also sustained damage and also became disabled in this incident, and both passengers of the Mercedes were ordered out of the vehicle.”
The driver and one passenger, whom police described only as black males wearing dark clothing, got out of the Mercedes but started running east on Maple Street in Edgewater toward the waiting BMW, jumping into a rear passenger door opened from the inside, Fort Lee police said.
“The BMW X5 then fled north on Hudson Terrace, traveling back into the Borough of Fort Lee, where it struck a second Fort Lee Police Department unit,” Porrino said.
Police chased the car through Fort Lee to Route 46 West and then onto Interstate 95 South. When they got as far as Newark, the pursuit was “terminated,” according to Fort Lee police.
A check of the Vehicle Identification Number of the Mercedes, which was left disabled at the scene in Edgewater, revealed that it had also previously been reported stolen. Officers subsequently found a loaded revolver in the Mercedes, Fort Lee police said.
Englewood Cliffs police don’t believe the suspects were able to break into any cars on 6th Street. Cioffi said police in Newark were not able to find the BMW or apprehend the suspects there.
“We’re looking at other ways, with all new technology, and we’re trying to find the car,” Cioffi said. “A criminal’s got to make one mistake, and we’ll pick up on it hopefully.”
Fort Lee Detectives are continuing the investigation, which could result in motor vehicle theft, eluding, aggravated assault on a police officer and other charges “to be determined,” police said.