Nutley man is suspect in multiple thefts

A Nutley man is being held as a suspected serial “snatch and grab” thief allegedly linked to nearly 30 thefts in 12 communities spread over eight counties in New Jersey.

Anthony Cervino, 43, was arrested Nov. 5 in Parsippany after police say he was caught running from a store with stolen merchandise by detectives from the Wayne Police Department and the Paramus Police Department.

Police said Cervino was observed parking his Toyota 4Runner in the fire lane in a shopping center in front of a Modell’s Sporting Goods store. Police said he entered the store and, about 45 seconds later, ran out with an armful of Nike hoodies. After hearing the store security sensors sounding, police said they collared Cervino as he was about to enter the parked Toyota.

Questioning the suspect, police said they were able to connect him to “over 28 snatch and grab thefts” in multiple jurisdictions throughout the state dating from Aug. 4, 2014. As of last week, he has been charged with the theft of “an armful” of North Face jackets valued at more than $2,800 from the Ski Barn store on Rt. 23 North in Wayne at 8 p.m. on Oct. 15 and has also been charged in connection with thefts in Paramus and East Brunswick.

After sending out a TRAKS message to surrounding police jurisdictions and retailers, police said they were notified by the Sports Authority stores that the suspect posted in the message appears to have used the same M.O. – keeping his car (believed to be a blue Toyota 4Runner) running in the fire lane and stealing North Face jackets – in multiple thefts at their retail outlets, most recently on Oct. 16 in Secaucus.

During an investigation led by Wayne PD, in consultation with detectives from various jurisdictions, police traced the alleged suspect’s vehicle to Cervino and set up surveillance on the suspect, leading to the arrest in Parsippany.

According to Wayne Det. Capt. Mark McGrath, Cervino has been lilnked to nine thefts in Paramus, four in Woodbridge, three in Clifton, two in each of East Brunswick and East Hanover and one apiece in Union, Secaucus, Springfield, Brick, Parsippany and Wayne.

Cervino is bloodied in the mug shot supplied by Wayne PD, because he has visible sores on his face and a staph infection and when detectives “had him face down on the sidewalk as they were handcuffing him … Cervino turned his head and scraped his forehead on the sidewalk which caused the bleeding,” McGrath said.

He was treated by paramedics but when he removed a bandage, it began to bleed again, McGrath said. Cervino is currently being held at the Passaic County Jail on $20,000 bail, pending court action.

– Ron Leir 

The Observer Staff