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East Rutherford police make quick arrests in Papa John’s holdup

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot File Photo

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: East Rutherford police this weekend took all four suspects in the brazen holdup of a Papa John’s Pizza days earlier into custody this weekend.

Four bandits — three of them women — staged the robbery last Wednesday night, forcing employees and a customer to the floor, taking cellphones and cash from all of them, while one took $585 in cash at gunpoint from the register and another cut the phone and computer cords to the Paterson Avenue eatery.

By Saturday, East Rutherford had them rounded up all four, Police Chief Lawrence Minda said this morning.

Two are adults from Hillside:

Michael Gomez Polanco, 22, is being held on $132,500 bail, charged with robbery, criminal restraint, aggravated assault, conspiracy, weapons possession and using a juvenile to commit a crime.

Also arrested was Whendy Laurencio Blanco, who was charged with robbery, conspiracy and criminally using a juvenile. Her bail is $60,000.

Both were being held at the Bergen County Jail.

Two teens were detained on juvenile complaints, as well.

Polanco pulled a black handgun and two of his accomplices knives after casually entering the eatery around 9:30 p.m., Minda said. Two of the females were wearing hijabs to disguises themselves, he said.

While Polanco was forcing the manager to open the register, the female robbers held the employees and customer on the floor at knifepoint. One of the employees sustained an ankle injury after being jostled, the chief said.

They then fled in a dark-colored Honda Civic, he said.

Working together, a team of East Rutherford investigators — Detective Lt. Jeff Yannacone, Detective Sgts. Thomas Berlinski and Michael Giancaspro and Detective Daniel Perry — identified Laurencio – Blanco, the chief said.

On Friday, they were joined by their counterparts from Hillside and Elizabeth at her apartment, where they took Laurencio – Blanco and Gomez-Polanco, her live-in boyfriend, into custody, Minda said.

They then identified and tracked down the two others girls — one 16, the other 17.

First appearances are set in East Rutherford Municipal Court this Wednesday.

Charges are also pending in Elizabeth, Minda said.

Minda thanked the the Lyndhurst, Hillside and Elizabeth police departments, as well as the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office and Port Authority police, for their assistance in the investigation and arrests.

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