Social media helps Dover police arrest man for alleged lewd behavior

Marvin S. Wiggins

DOVER — For just less than 24 hours police allege that a 56-year-old New Jersey man committed lewd acts in front of several women and multiple businesses late last week.

The alleged incidents began some time Thursday night, Dover police said, and ended with a suspect being taken in to custody without incident at approximately 3 p.m. Friday.

Before Marvin S. Wiggins, of New Dover Road in Colonia, was identified as a suspect, an alleged victim took a photo of an unknown man acting inappropriately toward her inside the Target store.

The photo was posted on Dover police social media sites shortly after an officer received it on Friday morning. The photo drew a flurry of responses by people claiming they had also been approached by the suspect.

While investigators were glad to learn more information about the case, police also wished more supposed victims would have come forth earlier when they were allegedly approached.

Police said a woman photographed a suspect allegedly engaged in lewd behavior at the Target store on Thursday night. (Submitted photo/Dover Police)

“Shortly after posting the suspect photo online, we became aware of numerous other victims,” Dover Police Department spokesman Master Cpl. Mark Hoffman said.

“While no one was physically harmed by this man, it was concerning that it was not reported to us sooner by other victims.  We encourage the public that if incidents like this occur to always notify police right away.”

The photo did not lead to the arrest or identification of a suspect, Cpl. Hoffman said. But it served to prompt more alleged victims to come forward with information.

“We received over two dozen responses via phone and private messages indicating this man approached numerous women over several days in the Dover area,” he said. “Each victim had a similar story about his demeanor and what he would say when he approached them.”

It was unclear when the alleged incidents began and how many other locations may have been affected, police said.

“Some women reported that they were approached earlier in the week by this man,” Cpl, Hoffman said.

Ultimately, police said, Mr. Wiggins was arrested without incident after he allegedly returned to the Target store and began misbehaving again. Store security called police to the scene and an apprehension was made.

Police claimed Mr. Wiggins allegedly contacted several women in stores asking for gift advice for house warming gifts or baby showers. Allegedly, authorities said, he would then fondle himself through his clothing while asking women to look at his genitalia through his sweatpants.

The alleged acts were committed in at least three stores: Target, TJMaxx, and Kohl’s, in Dover, police said.

Misdemeanor charges

Charges include criminal trespass, disorderly conduct (eight counts), lewdness (seven counts) and harassment (seven counts), all misdemeanors. Mr. Wiggins was given a $6,500 cash bail and the case was forwarded to the Kent County Court of Common Pleas in Dover.

Store security cameras may have recorded some of the alleged incidents, and police said Monday they were attempting to obtain them.

Police believe Mr. Wiggins was staying at a local hotel “and driving or using public transportation based on the distance he covered.” They were unsure why he came to Dover to begin with.

Noting the clear photo was helpful to the investigation, Cpl. Hoffman said: “Many criminal incidents are captured on cell phone footage nowadays” and urged citizens to consider their own protection first before anything else.

Though no injuries were reported, police considered the alleged incident a serious matter.

“The potential dangers of a person committing such acts is what they are potentially building up to,” Cpl. Hoffman said. “The acts by this suspect may have been a way for him to build up courage or confidence to commit more severe crimes, specifically sexually related.

“While there is no telling what the goals of this man were, you have to assume the worst these days and always err on the side of caution.

“We encourage the public that if incidents like this occur, to always notify police right away.”

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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