Teen charged with impersonating officer

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MIDDLE TOWNSHIP – A patron at Ocean Isle Tans in Rio Grande didn’t believe a man was a police officer when he asked for money from a young clerk Jan. 2.

Police say Gregory J. Anthony, 18, of Rio Grande, told the clerk that the Middle Township Police Department needed money and that the business would be reimbursed. He displayed paperwork with the police department letterhead that police say he stole from an off-duty officer’s car earlier that day.

The patron who entered Ocean Isle Tans asked Anthony for identification, and police say he fled the business.

Police also accuse Anthony of stealing several items from an off-duty police officer's vehicle in Rio Grande, including a badge from a police hat, raincoat and bag.

Stolen police-related items from the car were recovered, according to police.

Anthony was charged Jan. 6 with impersonating a police officer and possession of stolen property. He was released on a summons.

Edwards said police needed more time to pin him to the alleged robbery from the officer’s car. On Jan. 9, they brought that charge against him and he was placed in the Cape May County Jail on $25,000 bail.

In the past week, Middle Township Police reported two incidents of police impersonation, and arrests have been made in both cases. James Kelly, 40, of Burleigh, faces charges of impersonating and officer in Rio Grande.

“It is a reasonable request to ask for identification from a plain clothes police officer,” reads an announcement from the police department. “If you are suspicious call 911 immediately to affirm the identity. A bona fide public official will present identification, and will not make requests for money.”

Also, Anthony was one of two Middle Township men arrested Jan. 9 in connection with stealing a purse from a woman outside of ShopRite last month.

Police alleged that Gregory Anthony, 18, of Rio Grande, and Benjamin Torres, 18, of Del Haven, followed the customer around the store Dec. 20 before they ran by and snatched the purse from her cart in the parking lot.

The victim and bystander chased the two men but the suspects got away. Edwards said the purse was dropped when the men fled, and nothing was taken from it.

Anthony and Torres have been charged with conspiracy and theft and were arrested Jan. 9 by the Middle Township Major Crime Unit.

Anthony was placed in the Cape May County Jail on $1,500 bail, and Torres was released on a summons. 

“The Middle Township Police urge our citizens to be conscience of their surroundings. While shopping, secure your purse to your body, especially while in the store,” police said in a statement. “Leaving an unattended purse in the cart makes it an easy target for thieves. If you feel you are being targeted or see anything suspicious, don't hesitate to report it to the store management, or contact the police immediately.”

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