NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A regular wash and fold routine at the laundromat spun out of control when two people posing as customers took items that were not theirs.

The thieves in the West Ward of Newark were not after what you might think at a local laundromat — they didn’t go for cash or coins — they snagged other people’s clothes.

People said the suspects came into the 12th Ave laundromat last Friday, around 1:45 p.m. and purchased plastic bags from the cashier, then emptied clothing from dryers into the bags and left.

“If you look around at this neighborhood you wouldn’t be surprised at the level of crime, drugs, and prostitution, and people are unemployed. At the end of the day people are going to come and take it from you and I,” Tawanna Roebuck told CBS2’s Meg Baker.

One employee was there when the customer returned to find his clothes missing.

“The guy called the police. The police came last week,” she said.

Workers at the laundromat said they are not responsible for watching the machines, so if you put a load in, you should probably stay and wait.

“This area where a lot of people come in and out of. You got some good people, but some bad people,” Moenez said.

Roebuck said the theft speaks to broader issues in the neighborhood.

“Unless they’re provided with services for employment, drug addiction that’s going to happen. We’re lucky that it wasn’t worse than that. It was just clothing that was stolen,” she said.

West Ward Councilman Joseph McCallum would not go on camera, but said there is still a lot to do to improve the quality of life in the area, but said he has increased outreach services.

Authorities are asking for help identifying the thieves. police said the duo left in a large silver or tan colored SUV, possibly a Tahoe.

Since the thieves struck, police have increased patrols in the area.


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