An investigator with the state Attorney General's Office was unharmed after being carjacked at gunpoint outside a store.
According to the Essex County Prosecutor's Office, two unidentified gunmen approached the investigator and took the keys to his BMW, then sped off. The suspects crashed the car a short time later and fled on foot.
The investigator, who was not in uniform, is assigned to the Medicaid fraud bureau of the state division of criminal justice.
Authorities say that across Essex County, carjackings are up 33 percent over 2009.
"I think it's bad, you know what I mean?" one Newark resident said. "Makes me wonder why they fired all those cops."
That, Police Director Garry McCarthy said, is a common misconception. Recent cuts at the end of November did not include any beat cops being removed from the streets.
"We had a bad summer, as far as murder rate goes," he said. "And we had those 167 cops at that time. In the last two months, the murder rate has dropped dramatically."
McCarthy said he is now armed with a task force to fight with federal muscle and charges. He even has a helicopter and the FBI on board. He is hoping that the news of the federal charges will be a big deterrent.
"The statutes are much more stringent," he said. "Second of all, generally no bail. And third of all, when you go away, you go to places like Montana and Idaho. You don't go to Rahway State Prison, where all your buddies can come and visit you."