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Man Says He Stole 2 Cars, 1 With Kids In It

Princeton's Justin Mercer took police on Rt. 80 high-speed chase last fall.

A Princeton man admitted that last year, he stole two cars in Warren County—one with two kids inside.

Justin Mercer, 31, pleaded guilty on April 25 to carjacking, a first-degree crime; eluding, a second-degree crime; and theft, a third-degree crime. If he receives the maximum sentences, he could serve a total of 26 years in New Jersey State Prison. Sentencing is currently scheduled for June 8.

Mercer admitted stealing a vehicle on Oct. 1, 2011 belonging to a driver who stopped to help him on Route 80 in Allamuchy Township, after Mercer was involved in a crash, Prosecutor Richard Burke said.

The vehicle he stole, Mercer admitted, had two children in it, according to Burke. Mercer drove the car into Hackettstown, where he abandoned the vehicle behind a business, Burke said.

Mercer admitted he then stole a second car that was unlocked and running at the Quick Chek store at the intersection of Route 46 and Stiger Street, Burke said.

Mercer then got back onto Route 80 and headed east, where he fled from the New Jersey State Police at a “high rate of speed,” Burke said. The pursuit went through Morris County and into Essex County, where Mercer lost control of the car and crashed it on the exit 7 off-ramp of Route 280, Burke said.

The New Jersey State Police arrested Mercer, and investigated the carjacking and eluding offenses. The theft offense was investigated by the Hackettstown Police Department.

For questions about this post, please email jason.koestenblatt@patch.com.

Judi May 22, 2012 at 10:38 AM
What happen to the kids in the car??? Are they okay???
Mrs. Deborah Slavinski, RN May 22, 2012 at 04:17 PM
Long Valley Patch continues to have daily headlines that read like a police blotter. I don't think it is a reflection of the town. I would like to see all the positive aspects of Long Valley. We will still read The Patch. Can we read about the LV Middle School gifted and talented students winning the opportunity to compete in Destination Imagination in Knoxville, TN this week? They are our future.
Jason Koestenblatt (Editor) May 22, 2012 at 04:53 PM
Hi Deborah - Thanks for the comment. Regarding the site reading like a 'police blotter' - I hope you were able to see the other stories today, regarding road repairs in town, our township committee agreeing on a feasibility study regarding the regional school district, and four members of the K-8 school district being awarded for their innovation in the classroom. And I agree with you – I don't believe the police stories we run are a reflection of our town. In fact, this story you're referring to is about a Princeton man committing a crime in Hackettstown, our neighbors. We ran the story because it was close enough to home that we believe readers should be aware of what happened. Again, thanks for the comment, Deborah.
Carolyn Hanington May 22, 2012 at 07:21 PM
Jason, thanks for posting this story...I don't know that I would ever have considered not getting out of my car to help someone who was just in an accident while leaving my children in my car, but now, I will call 911 and stay until someone arrives. Wouldn't have occured to me that that type of situation could put my children in danger.

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