JACKSON — A 26-year-old male resident of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., has been charged by Jackson police with being in possession of counterfeit bills at the Jackson Premium Outlets, Route 537.
According to Jackson Police Department Sgt. Fred Meabe, who is the department’s public information officer, on Nov. 8, Detective Stephen Purtell was in the area of the Jackson Premium Outlets following up on an unrelated investigation while also working a plainclothes detail to combat a rise in shoplifting the stores in the outlet mall have been experiencing.
Purtell was advised by a police dispatcher that employees at several stores had called to report two men were attempting to pass counterfeit United States currency.
After canvassing the area, Purtell was able to locate one of the men with the assistance of a description that had been forwarded to him by the dispatcher.
While Purtell was approaching the man, the individual became aware of his presence. Purtell displayed his badge and identified himself as a Jackson police officer. The man froze and became hesitant. Purtell again identified himself and advised the man he needed to speak with him.
At that time the man dropped the bags he was carrying and began running away from Purtell. A foot pursuit ensued and Purtell kept ordering the suspect to stop, according to information provided by police.
While Purtell was pursuing the man, he observed the man reach into his pockets and pull out several bills that appeared to be United States currency. The man was observed ripping up the bills and throwing them to the ground during the pursuit.
After pursuing the man for about a quarter-mile through the parking lot, Purtell was able to corner him in a location from which an escape was not possible. The man was taken into custody without incident.
During a search of the man, Purtell recovered several $100 bills and was able to immediately determine the bills were counterfeit due to their texture and color. Police said all of the bills had the same serial number.
The bills were confirmed to be counterfeit during the course of the investigation once they were brought to police headquarters. Police said the man was in possession of more than $1,000 worth of counterfeit bills, some of which were used to make fraudulent purchases.
Police said the Fort Lauderdale resident was charged with five counts of possession of counterfeit bills; destruction of evidence; obstruction of the administration of the law; and hindering apprehension. He was placed in the Ocean County Jail, Toms River.
The U.S. Secret Service was advised of the counterfeiting incident. Police said the second man who was reported to have been involved in the incident at the Jackson Premium Outlets was not located or identified.