On December 25th, 2017, at approximately 9:55 PM, Officers with the Stafford Township Police Department were dispatched to 520 Route 9 North in Manahawkin, N.J. in reference to a minor, three car motor vehicle accident. This location is the Route 9 North Wawa at Cedar Bridge Road. During the course of the investigation Officers learned that a white male fled from a black 2016 Lincoln MKC that was involved in the accident prior to Officers arrival. Further investigation revealed that the vehicle was reported stolen from New York City, NY. Officers searched the area for the suspect that fled the scene, but initially, were unable to locate him.
Later, approximately 10:47 PM, Officers were notified that a white male matching the same description as the suspect from the accident entered a nearby residence on Route 9 North, and forcibly took the resident's car keys from him. The resident was not injured. The suspect then stole the resident's red 2007 GMC pickup, and fled the area prior to Officers arrival. Stafford Township Officers began searching the area, and other neighboring agencies were notified as well.
Subsequently, at approximately 11:00 PM, Patrolman Jacob Conner of the Stafford Township Police Department located the stolen GMC behind a hunting lodge located on Taylor Lane in Barnegat Township. The suspect attempted to flee again, but was blocked in on the property by Officer Conner's vehicle. The suspect attempted to flee through the woods in the stolen GMC pickup, but became stuck after he crashed the pickup into a tree. The suspect was taken into custody by Patrolmen Jacob Conner and Albert Haldenwang of Stafford Township. They were assisted by Officers with the Barnegat Township Police Department.
The suspect was later identified as Christian Zolea 27 years old of Hampton Virginia. Christian was charged with Burglary, Theft, Robbery, Possession of Stolen Property, Eluding, Resisting Arrest, Reckless Driving, Leaving the Scene of a Motor Vehicle Accident, and Failure to Maintain Lane. Mr. Zolea was transported and lodged in the Ocean County Jail.
As policy, the Stafford Township Police Department will not release the photos of any defendants. Also, the media and the public are reminded that criminal charges are merely accusations, and that all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.