Cops recover stolen cars, seek more victims in multi-state crime spree based in N.J.

Police on Thursday said investigators recovered five stolen cars, drugs, guns and arrested two men in a string of crimes spanning New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Leon Lowery, 42, of North Brunswick, and Ishawn Redd, 39, of West Orange, face several felony charges, the New Jersey State Police announced.

The arrests came as part of a six-month investigation dubbed “Operation Hellcat,” where detectives probed a string of commercial burglaries and car thefts in Monmouth and Middlesex counties as well as in Pennsylvania, according to authorities.

“The suspects allegedly targeted and broke into various check cashing facilities, scrap metal yards, and convenience stores in the area where they stole cash,” the State Police said in a statement.

Members of the State Police, joined by Howell and South Plainfield police, served search warrants at the homes of Lowery and Redd on Sept. 11, authorities said.

That effort turned up the stolen vehicles - a Dodge Challenger Hellcat, Audi A7, Dodge Ram 3500, and a Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG. Police said they also seized burglary tools, 169 THC vape cartridges, $15,300 along with a 40 caliber handgun and a .45 caliber handgun.

Two days after that search, the State Police, Paramus police and Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office searched an East Orange storage space that Lowery rented, the state agency said. That search led to a stolen Jeep Grand Cherokee, 4 ounces of methamphetamine, more than 500 grams of Xanax and at least 50 grams of marijuana, and ecstasy.

“Detectives believe that Lowery and Redd may have committed additional commercial burglaries and thefts throughout New Jersey,” State Police said.

Lowery was charged with offenses, including receiving stolen property, burglary, drug and weapons charges, along with operating a facility for sale of stolen motor vehicle parts, according to police. He was being held at the Middlesex County Jail pending a detention hearing.

For his part, Redd was lodged at the Essex County jail on charges of receiving stolen property and removal or altering of vehicle identification numbers, authorities said.

State Police asked anyone who believes they might be a victim of the crime spree to call investigators at 609-584-5000, ext. 5351.

Noah Cohen may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @noahyc. Find on Facebook.