NORTH BERGEN - A North Bergen man says that he was ridiculed and criticized for reporting what he felt was a suspicious package left on a bus.
Last week John Heinlein took a ride with the General Bus Company from South Carolina to New York. While at a rest stop in Virginia, he noticed another passenger clutching his bag. The passenger told Heinlein that he wanted to keep his bag close.
Heinlein says that after the bus made another stop in Delaware, he noticed that the man never made it back on.
"I realized he had now put the bag underneath and now he's not on the bus,” says Heinlein.
Heinlein called Delaware police about the situation, but police said there was nothing they could do. New Jersey state police gave him the same response. Heinlein says that by this point the other passengers on the bus were mocking him.
"The one guy goes, ‘Tap your heels together, we're all going to blow up,’" says Heinlein.
He says that even the bus driver threated to fight him. When the bus got close to the Holland Tunnel, Heinlein says he made a last ditch effort to call the Port Authority Police, who finally took his concerns seriously.
"Everybody's like ‘Go, go, go’ and the bus driver steps on the gas trying to get to the tunnel,” Heinlein says. “All of a sudden swarms, swarms [of police] came out of walls, came out of everywhere."
It turns out the package was not dangerous, but did contain 16 cartons of untaxed cigarettes. The bus was cleared and sent on its way. Heinlein says that he does not regret being cautious.
“Ninety-nine percent this guy was nothing, but there’s that one percent just pulling at me,” he says.
The bag’s owner was taken in for questioning regarding the untaxed cigarettes.