One day after he was released from prison, a 40-year-old man allegedly committed the very same crime at the very same business that had landed him in jail 15 years earlier.
Christopher M. Miller had spent 15 years in South Woods State Prison in Bridgeton for robbing a Stride Rite shoe store in Toms River. On March 22, a mere day after his March 21 release, he reportedly returned to the same shoe store on Hooper Avenue in Toms River and demanded cash from the store’s two employees.
Miller proceeded to take the cash register and the $389 it contained. When the employees did not move as quickly as he wanted, he became agitated and, as police spokesman Ralph Stocco said, “took the drawer out himself.”
Stocco also specified that Miller “was not armed but just made a verbal threat.”
Workers refused to turn over their car keys; instead, Miller apparently took cellphones from a 17-year-old boy and a 43-year-old woman, and then fled the store on foot
Employees notified the police, who, with the help of a police dog, tracked down Miller on nearby Feathertree Drive. Police found the stolen phones in a garbage can in the shopping center; the money was found in a gutter downspout in the back of the building.
In the 1999 Stride Rite robbery, Miller brandished a box cutter in the store, tied up employees in a storage room and stole an undetermined amount of cash.
Miller told police that he is from Tulsa, Okla.; authorities are still trying to determine what his connection is to the Toms River area.
“We’re wondering was he just not such a smart criminal or did he subconsciously want to get caught. And that’s kind of where we’re leaning, that maybe he just couldn’t survive out there on his own and just decided he’s going to go back to the same place where he felt comfortable,” said Toms River police chief Mitchell Little.
As of this afternoon, Miller was being held on $100,000 bail at the Ocean County jail.