Accused Elizabeth, NJ carjacker stole Mercedes, $1,700 cash, cops say
A 22-year-old Jersey City man faces first-degree carjacking and other charges for holding a couple at gunpoint and stealing a Mercedes Benz and $1,700 cash outside a restaurant in Elizabeth, Acting Attorney General Matt Platkin announced on Friday.
Rahmel Belle has also been charged with robbery, conspiracy, eluding, assault on a law enforcement officer, weapons and other offenses stemming from the incident this spring, in which police chased Belle by car and on foot before arresting him.
The 15-count indictment was obtained by the Division of Criminal Justice Specialized Crime Bureau on Aug. 11.
On April 23, the couple was sitting in a late-model Mercedes Benz waiting to pick up food at a restaurant on Morris Avenue around 7:30 p.m. when two masked men exited a car behind them and walked up, according to prosecutors.
One of the men pointed a handgun with a laser at the couple and ordered the two individuals out of the car while demanding their keys, cellphones and other valuables, according to officials.
The couple handed over the items — including roughly $1,700 in cash — and the gunman entered the vehicle and drove off, officials said.
Later that night, a Newark police officer saw the stolen Mercedes on Elizabeth Avenue in Newark and pursued it, before losing sight of the car on Route 78.
A Newark Police aviation unit then tracked it to Jersey City, where the driver eventually abandoned the vehicle and ran away, according to officials.
Jersey City police, with help from the Newark Police Aviation Unit, found Belle and after a struggle, apprehended him.
A gray handgun with a green laser was recovered in the bushes next to Belle, who also had roughly $1,700 in cash and the key fob to the stolen Mercedes in his possession.
Belle was also wearing sneakers that matched the description of the accused carjacker, police said.
“Carjacking victims at gunpoint on a busy street in broad daylight is the most dangerous form of auto theft we’re combatting in New Jersey,” Platkin said in a written release on Friday.
“We have dedicated additional personnel, resources, and technology to put a stop to brazen crimes like this. We will continue to work with law enforcement throughout the state to investigate, arrest, and prosecute individuals responsible.”
In addition to two counts each of first-degree carjacking and robbery and third-degree resisting arrest, Belle faces second-degree counts of conspiracy to commit carjacking, unlawful possession of a weapon, possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes and eluding.
Belle also faces fourth-degree counts of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, resisting arrest, receiving stolen property and prohibited weapons and devices.
He was being held in Essex County jail, pending trial.
If convicted, Belle could face 10 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $200,000 for the first-degree charges, alone.