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Police have arrested a man accused of carjacking two vehicles and attempting to carjack a third in Riverhead late yesterday afternoon.

Police said a man attempted to steal a vehicle occupied by a 67-year-old Baiting Hollow woman in the TJ Maxx shopping plaza on Route 58. The man attempted to forcibly remove her from her vehicle but did not succeed, police said. She used her cell phone to call 911.

While the first victim was on the phone with police, she observed him enter the driver’s side of a Toyota Highlander in the same parking lot and saw a female child exit the vehicle, which then left the parking lot and headed east on Route 58, police said.

The child, age 10, told police she was waiting in the Highlander for her mother when the man got into the vehicle, began yelling at her and demanded she get out of the vehicle, according to a Riverhead Police press release issued this morning.

Descriptions of the suspect and the vehicle were broadcast and a short time later, the Toyota was located by a uniformed Riverhead Police sergeant patrolling the area to the rear of 55 West Main Street, according to the police report.

The sergeant was then approached by a 79-year-old Riverhead man who reported his parked vehicle, a 2005 Chevy Avalanche, was stolen by a man who pulled up to the area in the Toyota Highlander, approached his vehicle and grabbed him by the arm, demanding that he get out, police said. After he complied, the man then drove off in the Avalanche, exited the parking lot onto Peconic Avenue and left the area in an unknown direction, according to the report.

Police then broadcast to area departments descriptions of the man and the second stolen vehicle.

Riverhead Police detectives obtained and reviewed surveillance video footage depicting the suspect and his actions, police said, and a uniformed officer recognized the man in the video as an undomiciled man involved in two calls for service by Riverhead Police earlier yesterday afternoon. During those calls, the man had identified himself as Carlos Vargas, 32, and said he was homeless, according to police. Riverhead Police shared the information with area departments.

Yesterday at about 7 p.m. Suffolk County Police apprehended Vargas in Rocky Point, after responding to a call about a suspicious person on Route 25A. Officers found Vargas near the roadway, wearing only shorts, and in an altered mental state, according to the Riverhead Police press release. Vargas told Suffolk officers he had consumed “some type of hallucinogen” and had been running from Riverhead Police, according to the press release.

The man was identified as Jan Carlos Vargas, 32, and he was arrested and transported to Mather Hospital for evaluation. He was later released to the custody of Riverhead Police, according to the report.

Vargas was transported to Riverhead Police Department headquarters where he was processed on two counts of Robbery in the Second Degree and one count of Attempted Robbery in the Second Degree. He was held pending morning arraignment, police said.

A Riverhead Police COPE officer recovered the stolen Chevy Avalanche in a parking lot in the Rocky Point area, according to the police report.

Editor’s note: A criminal charge is an accusation. A person charged with a crime is presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.

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