Jewelry store robbed at gunpoint in Little India, New Jersey

Ritu Jha-

Ten armed people robbed a jewelry store on Oak Tree Road in Iselin, New Jersey, on June 10. 

Emailing indica, John R. Hagerty, spokesperson for the John E McCormac, Woodbridge Township, wrote, “Unfortunately it’s not the best of circumstances.”

Virani Jewelry in Oak Tree Road, Iselin, New Jersey.

Hagerty said that according to the Woodbridge Police Department (WPD)  the robbery occurred near closing time, when a group of armed individuals wearing masks and gloves followed an employee through the front door of the business. They forced store employees to the floor, then smashed numerous glass display cases and grabbed the jewelry within before driving off.

Some employees sustained injuries, none of which were serious or life-threatening.

Hagerty said, “The WPD has met with many of the store owners located along the Oak Tree Road shopping district in the Iselin section of the township, and have advised increased security… The WPD has also increased patrol activity throughout the Iselin shopping district and will continue to monitor all store locations.”

The city of Woodbridge did not respond to repeated efforts by indica to contact them.

Biren Jhaveri, a long-time friend of Virani and the owner of Natraj Jewelers, said the robbery shocked everyone. While small incidents have occurred in the past, he told indica, “This is the first time… [We’ve not seen a robbery happen] in such a big way: 10 people coming; eight inside and two waiting in the car. It’s huge…”

While the police have not revealed how much the stolen property was worth, Jhaveri said that based on the footage he had seen, “It must be over $2 million [in] jewelry. I hope they have insurance.” Jhaveri said he tried to talk with Virani about the robbery, but that his friend was still in shock.

“I have known him since we came to the US the same year: 1991,” Jhaveri said. “We are friends. He speaks the same language. We meet often,” Both Jhaveri and Virani have roots in Gujarat.

Jhaveri’s shop is just 200 feet away from Virani’s. He said he feared such an attack could happen to anyone.

“I am still in shock and scared,’ Jhaveri said. “We have seen a rise in home robberies as well.” He said he was surprised that the people who had posted video of the robbery online had not stopped recording to call the police. He said that he understood that shock might have stopped the employees from pressing the panic button though every story has one.

He said there was cause for caution on their part.

“I am saying, be a little careful. I wouldn’t ask them to go and confront [the robbers. That is not a  good idea.”  Jhaveri said a group of business people are going to meet the city’s mayor and ask for police presence, especially in the evenings.

“The Oak Tree Road businesses pay so much tax and the town gets money out of it,” Jhaveri said.”

Tahir Mahmood, the founder of Bombay Paratha and Mughal Palace , the shop to Virani’s, told indica that there was one big robbery in the area 25 years ago, but not one during a busy hour, that too on a Friday.