TOMS RIVER, N.J. — The day after Christopher M. Miller finished a 15-year prison sentence for robbing a Stride Rite store in Toms River, he committed an almost identical crime at the same store, said Ralph Stocco, police spokesman.
Miller, 40, formerly of Tulsa, Okla., was released on Friday from South Woods State Prison in Bridgeton after serving a 15-year sentence for robbing Stride Rite store at 1358 Hooper Ave. On Saturday, Miller took a bus from Atlantic City to Toms River, returned to the same Stride Rite store, and committed a second robbery, Stocco said, but there were snags.
At 4:21 p.m. Miller entered the store and encountered two store employees, a 17-year-old boy and a 43-year-old woman, Stocco said. He demanded cash but became agitated by their slow response and removed the register drawer and its $389 in cash himself, Stocco said.
Just as he did in 1999, Miller demanded the pair go to the rear of store, Stocco said. However, they refused, he said.
He demanded their car keys and was turned down again, Stocco said. A frustrated Miller took the employees' cellphones and store phone and fled on foot, he said. The employees still managed to alert police, who responded immediately. Moments later, Miller was detained by Patrol Officer George Fernicola and K-9 Officer Kyle Martucci, and Martucci's dog Cyrus found the phones and the cash stashed in a gutter downspout behind a shopping plaza.
Back in 1999, Miller was sentenced to 15 years in prison for for three armed robberies in Toms River and Brick, as well as theft, criminal restraint and possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes, authorities said at the time.
The incidents included the attempted robbery in November 1999 of the Stride Rite, the robbery of a Carvel on Drum Point Road in Brick and a robbery and at the Payless Shoe Store at routes 9 and 571 in Toms River.
Miller is currently held in lieu of $100,000 bail in the Ocean County Jail.