Police have arrested one of the two men who drove off with a bag filled with $141,000 in cash after two employees who were replenishing ATMs mistakenly left the money on a lawn in northern New Jersey.
Mahwah police said the ATM employees had stopped on Industrial Avenue Monday when one of them placed the satchel on the front lawn of the business while moving items around in the vehicle. The workers drove off, forgetting the bag, and realized the money was missing 20 minutes later.
Later, a white van passed the satchel on the side of the road, then made a U-turn and stopped in front of the bag, surveillance video shows, according to authorities. A passenger got out of the van and took the satchel, and the van continued east on Industrial Avenue.
Police said local departments spotted the white van before it came into Mahwah. The two suspects are known as "pickers" -- people who collect used tires and trade them for cash, authorities said. Police believe they were in town for that purpose when they stole the cash.
"From what they told me, they thought it was a projector," said Det. Michael Grassi. "They looked around, and they took it."
The first thing the suspects, Alton Harvey and Jamar Bludon, bought was a used Chevy Tahoe, police said.
"There's been a significant amount recovered, but we're obviously hoping our investigation will lead us to more of the funds," said Grassi.
Authorities found and arrested the van driver, 42-year-old Harvey, and are still looking for Bludson, 35, the passenger who swiped the bag and who is also wanted on a probation violation.
"According to the law, they should have returned the money," said Grassi. "It's theft of mislaid property."
Neither Harvey or Bludson own the white van, and police believe the owner wasn't aware his vehicle had been used in the crime. Harvey, of Hillside, New Jersey, was remanded to Bergen County Jail on $125,000 bail. Authorities said Harvey has an extensive criminal history, including 10 felony convictions for weapons and narcotic offenses, escape and resisting arrest.
Police said the ATM employees work for ATMForUS.com, a family-owned business, and they had no involvement in the theft.