There was no mistaking the face of the white-bearded gent shown holding up Gerry’s Shell station on Willow Street. At least not to the man’s family.
The man carried out the heist shortly before 10 p.m. on May 16 after opening the door for two customers to exit and purchasing two Powerball tickets. Unlike the other 100 or so robbers who have hit Gerry’s Shell the past 36 years, he didn’t bother wearing a mask or otherwise attempting to conceal his face. So he ended up starring in full view in a video captured by one of the station’s 24 video cameras.
The Independent published a clip from the video earlier this week (with this story). The man’s family saw the story in the Independent, watched the video, called the cops, and called the man to tell him to haul it over to 1 Union Ave. to face the music, according to Sgt. Robert Lawlor Jr., head of the robbery and burglary unit.
The man confessed to committing the robbery, Lawlor said Friday. Police charged him with first-degree robbery and sixth-degree larceny. The man, who’s 57 years old, also had an outstanding warrant on a motor-vehicle violation in the town of Orange.
“I’m just a drug addict. I’m just on hard times. My family convinced me to turn myself in,” the man told detectives, according to Lawlor.
The man said he’s homeless. He claimed he didn’t intend to commit the robbery when he first entered the store, then got the idea once inside, according to Lawlor. He denied having a gun; Lawlor said the rest of the video (the above video is just a snippet) clearly showed he had a gun.
Shell owner Gerry Katz thanked the police for making the arrest. “I’m ecstatic,” he said Friday.
“It’s a lesson for my store,” he added, “to have even less money in the register” in the future.