National

New Jersey cops explain why they let this burglary suspect flip off camera in mugshot

Spotswood, NJ, police posted Shana Hilsman’s mugshot on Facebook after she was arrested on burglary charges following numerous late-night car break-ins. She flips off the camera with both middle fingers.
Spotswood, NJ, police posted Shana Hilsman’s mugshot on Facebook after she was arrested on burglary charges following numerous late-night car break-ins. She flips off the camera with both middle fingers. Spotswood Police Department

A New Jersey woman was arrested this month on burglary and trespassing charges — but it was her mugshot that made headlines.

Shana Hilsman, a resident of Old Bridge, flipped off the camera with both middle fingers in her mugshot, which Spotswood police posted on Facebook Monday. The New York Daily News called the image “epic.” The New York Post said the image “shows how she really feels.” NBC New York wrote that Hilsman’s picture “may be an early contender for mugshot of the year.”

Hilsman was arrested after an officer caught her with burglary tools (a flashlight, hammer and screwdriver) in a home’s driveway just after 1 a.m. on Feb. 1, police said. It was near the scene of numerous other recent vehicle break-ins, and surveillance video showed the earlier burglar had worn the same distinct clothes Hilsman was wearing, according to police.

One commenter on the Facebook post said he believed “the officers or whoever took this photo will be in trouble for allowing her to pose like that.”

Spotswood police weighed in — and told the man that “luckily your belief is wrong.”

“Things are different from back in the day,” the department wrote in response. “Not our problem if that’s how she wants to represent herself.”

Another commenter said the photo, which has been shared more than 100 times on Facebook, unfairly mocked the woman.

“I feel bad for her family and I feel by charging her insurmountable amounts of money to get help is no help at all,” the commenter wrote. “The only crime I see is mocking a person with a handicap.”

But local authorities had a response for that, too.

The department told the commenter to “feel bad for all the people that were victimized by her. No one is mocking anyone. That’s the mugshot she took so that’s the mugshot that’s posted and is public record.”

The man accused the department of treating the situation like a “joke” and being “very unprofessional.”

Police wrote that “we don’t run a photography studio. If that’s the way you want to pose for our report mugshot then that’s what it will be. We have other things to do like catch more people doing bad things, not take pictures you are satisfied with.”

Police also shared video on Facebook of one attempted break-in on Janice Drive from January, which linked Hilsman to the Feb. 1 break-in, according to the department.

Hilsman faces charges of criminal trespassing, burglary and possession of burglary tools, Spotswood police said. She was booked at the Middlesex County Adult Corrections Center.

A court date is pending, police said.

Tiffany Dawn Evans' mugshot went viral when websites across the world proclaimed her as the "zombie prostitute." She told The Sun News in Myrtle Beach, S.C. her story about drug addiction, prostitution and her life on the street. CREDIT: Janet Bla

Related stories from Miami Herald

Jared Gilmour is a McClatchy national reporter based in San Francisco. He covers everything from health and science to politics and crime. He studied journalism at Northwestern University and grew up in North Dakota.
  Comments