VINELAND — Police are searching for a man they allege detained a local woman while he was illegally acting as a bounty hunter.
Authorities say Edward Devine Collins convinced the woman he was a bounty hunter, handcuffed her and brought her to the Police Department on Aug. 23.
The woman apparently submitted to Collins’ demands because she knew she was wanted on outstanding warrants and saw that Collins was wearing some kind of badge, Sgt. Paul Shadinger said. Police did not realize Collins was not a state-licensed bounty hunter until after he left department headquarters with a legitimate bail bondsman, he said.
This is not the first time Collins, 27 — who Shadinger said has in the past listed home addresses in Vineland, Millville and Bridgeton in Cumberland County and in Newfield in Gloucester County — has had encounters with law enforcement because of alleged impersonations.
Shadinger identified Collins as the same person arrested by Millville police in March 2011 on sexual assault charges.
The alleged incident occurred after Millville authorities said Collins passed himself off as a modeling agent.
A woman Collins met at a Chuck E. Cheese’s in Hamilton Township believed his story and eventually showed up at a house on North Third Street in Millville for what she thought would be a photo shoot, authorities said. Collins sexually assaulted the woman after he prevented her from leaving the building, they said.
After his arrest, Collins was held in the Cumberland County jail in Bridgeton on $225,000 cash bail. No information was available Thursday on when he was released from the jail or the status of the sexual assault case.
Shadinger said the Aug. 23 incident is the only one local authorities know of involving Collins’ alleged impersonation of a bounty hunter.
However, he said, Collins called the woman twice before eventually showing up at her home. That has police worried that Collins may be involved in other, similar incidents, he said.
“We don’t know,” Shadinger said. “We want to know if there are other possible victims.”
State legislators enacted a law in January 2006 requiring all bounty hunters in New Jersey be licensed. The law went into effect in February 2007. It requires all bounty hunters in New Jersey to be at least 25 years old. They must also have five years’ experience in one of the following areas:
- As a law-enforcement officer. The person must also have no connections to any law-enforcement agencies while working as a bounty hunter.
- As a state-licensed private detective
- As an investigator for a state-licensed private detective
The applicant must also pass background checks done by State Police, who issue the $300 license.
Anyone with information about Collins’ whereabouts, or who has had contact with Collins when he portrayed himself as a bounty hunter or law-enforcement agent, is asked to call Detective Ron DeMarchi at 856-691-4111, ext. 4317.
Contact Thomas Barlas: