Men used red van in repeat trips to grocery store, cops say

Police surprised by items stolen

ROCHELLE PARK — Two men have been arrested on theft and other charges after a bizarre heist targeting a local grocery store over the course of two weeks.

Newark resident Hector Cortes and Alfredo Rodriguez, a 77-year-old Cuban national living in Elizabeth, were arrested on Tuesday shortly after their distinct red van pulled up outside the ShopRite on West Passaic Street.

Illustration_ red van, police sirens (Canva)
Illustration_ red van, police sirens (Canva)

Rochelle Park police said the 2003 Ford Econoline van had first been spotted on surveillance video at the same store in late March when shopping carts started going missing.

A total of 140 carts — worth a collective $28,000 — have disappeared from the store, police said.

Alfredo Rodriguez (top) Hector Cortes (bottom) Shopping carts (Canva, RPPD, Bergen County Sheriff's Office)
Alfredo Rodriguez (top) Hector Cortes (bottom) Shopping carts (Canva, RPPD, Bergen County Sheriff's Office)

When officers stopped Rodriguez and the 54-year-old Cortes on Tuesday, five carts were found in the van.

Police were now working to determine if both men were connected to all of the missing carts.

Alfredo Rodriguez (left), Hector Cortes (right) (RPPD, Bergen County Sheriff's Office)
Alfredo Rodriguez (left), Hector Cortes (right) (RPPD, Bergen County Sheriff's Office)

In addition to theft, each man faced charges of receiving stolen property, burglary tools and possession of property derived from criminal activity.

LOOK: Here's how much grocery shopping now costs in the U.S.

The average cost of groceries for one person per month in 2023 was around $337. But how does your state compare? Do you pay more, or less? Data compiled by Zippia takes a look at the average monthly grocery bill per person in all 50 states. States are listed from least expensive to most expensive and are rounded up to the nearest dollar.

Gallery Credit: Mike Brant

Report a correction 👈 | 👉 Contact our newsroom

LOOK: 35 Vintage Cereals That Perfectly Captured Pop Culture Moments

Movies and TV shows have always found ways to partner with cereal companies as part of their promotion strategy. While some may have come up with a giveaway in boxes, others went big by having their own cereal connected to the movie or TV show title. Here are vintage cereals that were used to promote some of pop culture's biggest moments (and some you probably forgot about).

Gallery Credit: Rob Carroll

Dennis Malloy's classic NJ pizza tour

Below are the pizzerias in New Jersey that our listeners said should be stops on a classic New Jersey pizza tour. Which ones are we missing?

Gallery Credit: Dennis Malloy

Shortest Rock Star Marriages

What rock star marriages were the shortest? After all, marriages don't work out sometimes, and that's just as true for musicians as anyone else. But whenever a rock marriage ends quickly, it can come as a shock to music fans. Here are the shortest rock star marriages over the years.

Gallery Credit: Philip Trapp

More From New Jersey 101.5 FM