North Caldwell's Robert Tucker Arrested for Stealing Officer's Cell Phone While Being Given a Courtesy Ride Home
NORTH CALDWELL, NJ - Early Tuesday morning at 4:18am, a motorist called North Caldwell Police to report that a male wearing a white baseball cap was lying in the roadway in the area of Mountain Avenue and Gould Avenue. According to Police Chief Mark Deuer, when officers arrived they found four individuals who were walking along Mountain Avenue. The officers interviewed the persons and found that they were on their way to other locations; some were making their way to the bus stop and some were on their way home. Because they were not operating a vehicle, none of the individuals were given sobriety tests. The officers decided that, as a courtesy, it was best to transport the individuals to where they were going.
One of the individuals, Robert Tucker, 19, (who was not the individual originally seen lying in the road) was transported from the location to his home on 187 Mountain Avenue by North Caldwell Police Officer Sue Depoe. During the drive, Depoe realized that her personal cell phone had fallen from the cup holder under the driver's seat, and after dropping Tucker off, she attempted to locate it. She and another officer searched the vehicle, attempted to call the phone, and soon realized that after several calls, the phone was turned off.
Deuer explained that every North Caldwell patrol car is equipped with an in-car video/camera unit which tapes the front window and also the rear seat where someone in custody would be seating. The officers involved decided to review Depoe's video.
"The tape clearly shows Officer Depoe's Apple I Phone 6 plus
Officer Paul O'Neill and Sergeant John Belotta returned with Depoe to Tucker's Mountain Avenue residence. According to Deuer, Tucker told police that he must have accidentally kicked the phone out of the car when he got out. However, Tucker brought them over to an area in front of his home where the police found the phone - already factory reset with all the contents erased - placed under a piece of wood by the mailbox.
Tucker was arrested and charged with Third Degree Theft, due to the value of the phone. He was released on his own recognizance and is expected to appear in court on April 16 at 9am.