Red Bank police have charged a Tinton Falls woman in a string of cases in which she’s alleged to have pretended to be either a federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency officer.
Maria Collins, 41, of Buford Place is in he Monmouth County lockup facing charges of robbery and impersonating an officer.
According to Capt. Steve McCarthy, borough police were summoned shortly before noon Sunday to the corner of Bridge Avenue and Chestnut Street, where a 31-year-victim reported that she’d been stopped by a woman driving a car who had demanded to see her identification.
The woman in the car “displayed what appeared to be a handgun,” took the victim’s purse and fled in the car, McCarthy said.
Shortly afterward, Middletown police were summoned to the Sav-On pharmacy in the Lincroft Acme supermarket on a report that a woman was trying to fraudulently obtain prescription drugs. Collins was arrested by Officer David Crenshaw.
Crenshaw thought Collins resembled a woman described in a TRAK alert issued by Red Bank investigators to other police departments, and so Middletown contacted Red Bank, said township Lt. Joe Capriotti. When Collins was released on her own recognizance on the prescription charge, she was turned over to Red Bank, Capriotti said.
Collins was charged with robbery by Red Bank police, and municipal Judge William Himelman set bail at $50,000.
Subsequently, Red Bank Sgt. Eliot Ramos and Investigator Errico Vescio continued to look in the robbery case and “noticed that there were some similarities to a case from April 30,” McCarthy said.
That case involved a 29-year-old borough resident who reported she’d been approached on East Sunset Avenue by a female in a car who identified herself as an immigration officer and demanded that the victim get into the car. Instead, the victim walked away and called police.
That victim told police her 27-year-old sister, also a Red Bank resident, had been similarly approached a day earlier by a woman in a car who identified herself as an immigration officer and demanded that the victim get in the car. But at that moment, a patrol car passed by and the suspect left the area.
No weapon was reported as having been shown in the April 29 and 30 incidents, McCarthy said.
This morning, Collins, who was being held at the Monmouth County jail in Freehold, was also charged with the April 29 and 30 counts.
McCarthy said all three Red Bank victims were Hispanic. He asked that anyone else who might have been approached in a similar manner tell police by calling the detective division at 732.530.2719 or the anonymous tip line at 732.450.9704.