Authorities Say Crime Could May Store Employee Or Even A Friend Of One

VAUXHALL, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Extra security was in place at a New Jersey Target store Monday as police continued to search for two suspects wanted for robbing the store at gunpoint on Black Friday.

Surveillance cameras captured images of the so-called “Black Friday bandits,” who police said terrorized employees at the Target in Vauxhall on the busiest shopping day of the year and got away with tens of thousands of dollars in cash.

What could be called the money shot on the surveillance cameras shows the robbers hauling large sacks filled with cash-stuffed envelopes through a back room at the Target store in the half-hour before midnight on Black Friday.

And police now believe, given the circumstances, the robbers may have some connection with Target employees.

“That’s what our initial conclusion would be, that it’s an inside job,” Union Township Police Capt. Scott Breslow told CBS 2’s John Slattery.

CBS 2’s Lou Young reported the patrons at the store on Monday were as rattled as the staff.

“It’s very frightening. It’s nerve wracking,” said customer Brenda Davis. “Me and my daughter, my husband, we all shop here, so, you know, it’s scary.”

The robbers came in as shoppers, and slipped into an employee area to hide in a restroom, police said.

“They stayed in the bathroom until the one store employee — the sales associate — actually walked into the bathroom. They bound him, and they waited for to right time to go out,” said Union Township police Detective Lt. Bob Perez, who added it was “very obvious” that the robbers knew the routine.

When they emerged, using zip ties, they tied up three workers at gunpoint inside a room where cash is counted and made off with the money, police said.

Police told CBS 2 the store had extra security for the holiday rush, but didn’t put it in the right place. Two off-duty sheriff’s deputies were stationed out in front of the store the entire time the robbery was going on inside, and they had guns, but no radios.

And the robbers knew to avoid them by going out a side entrance over that was completely unprotected, police said.

The robbers kept their heads down when pretending to shop, and wore masks later on. They had at least one gun and a plan that seemed a little too perfect.

“It would lead me believe that they had inside information as to Target’s business workings, or the layout of the store, or how things were going to happen that night,” Breslow said, “which comes from an employee, or a friend or family or someone who had the inside info.”

Target employees were shaken by the incident.

“It scares me for sure,” said Target pharmacist Anisha Bhagat. “I guess Black Friday was their best choice because it’s probably chaotic in here. Nobody’s going to pay attention.”

One employee, who didn’t want to be identified, told CBS 2 the suspects got ready for the attack in a bathroom and had masks and guns.

“You would think someone would have to know the right time to come and the right time they’d be pushing the cash to the safe,” the employee said. “That’s amazing.”

Witnesses said the suspects took off from the back door and escaped through an opening in a chain link fence right onto Route 78.

“Route 78 runs right directly behind the store,” said Union Township police Detective Lt. Bob Perez. “We know that they left in that direction, so they had to have a car waiting for them.”

The Target employees reported the robbery after they managed to untie themselves. No one was injured.

In a statement, Target said “The safety and security of our guests and team members is of the utmost importance to Target. We are partnering with local law enforcement on this incident.”

Police started interviewing employees over the weekend. They hoped the security video would help them, along with a tip from the public.

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