TOMS RIVER, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – Apparently, some people do return to the scene of the crime.
As CBS 2’s Elise Finch reported Tuesday, a convicted criminal recently had been let out of prison, when he allegedly robbed the same store in Toms River, N.J. that put him there 15 years ago.
According to Toms River, N.J. police, Christopher M. Miller was arrested for stealing the cash register from a Stride Rite shoe store on March 22. He was released from South Woods State Prison in Bridgeton, N.J. on March 21.
The same Stride Rite store on Hooper Avenue was robbed in 1999. Miller, 40, was convicted in that and a number of other robberies and was subsequently sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Toms River police Chief Mitchell Little described the latest incident.
“No weapon was shown or anything. The person demanded cash,” Little said. “He also demanded their car keys. He demanded cellphones. He demanded that they go in the back room. They refused, and he got upset because things weren’t happening fast enough, so he went to the cash drawer himself, and took about $400 in cash, and left the area.”
When the suspect left the shoe store, the two employees working at the time ran outside and flagged down a passerby, who called police.
Since the man fled the scene on foot, he did not get very far. Police caught a suspect two minutes later, just a few blocks away.
Little said when they arrested and processed Miller, they realized he was the same man who had robbed the store a decade and a half ago.
“He robbed the store, was put away for 15 years, takes a bus from Atlantic City the day he gets released from prison, and goes right back to the same exact store and robs it again,” Little said.
Speaking to WCBS 880, Little said police were investigating what prompted Miller allegedly to return to the same store.
“We’re wondering was he just not such a smart criminal or did he subconsciously want to get caught. And that’s kind of where we’re leaning, that maybe he just couldn’t survive out there on his own and just decided he’s going to go back to the same place where he felt comfortable. He knew Toms River and ended up getting caught again,” Little said. “So now he’ll be going away for another 15 or 20 years.”
Toms River residents had their theories too.
“I think it’s a shame,” said Laticia Piccini of Toms River. “I think that people don’t know how to fall back in society once they’re institutionalized, honestly, and it’s scary.”
“Lots of times people, you know, get out of jail, and they don’t know what to do, and they feel safer, I think, maybe being in jail,” said Aileen Muller of Toms River.
“He obviously did his time. You would have thought he would have learned a lesson,” said Bruce Rush of Toms River. “It’s a shame he couldn’t turn it around.”
“You hear it every day,” said John Jensen of Brick. “People go back to jail because they don’t have nothing. You don’t have anything, where are you going to go?”
According to police, Miller has no personal connection to the store, doesn’t know anyone who worked there and has never worked there himself.
He has been charged with robbery, and was being held Tuesday at the Ocean County Jail on $100,000 bail for this latest incident.
Police said in the 1999 robbery, Miller tied up the store’s employees in a storage room before taking off with cash. In Saturday’s incident, police said Miller demanded two store employees go to the back of the store but they refused.
He was apprehended a short time after fleeing on foot, police said.
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