Old enough to know better?

By Karen Zautyk 

Observer Correspondent 

KEARNY –

Last Wednesday, Oct. 29, Kearny police contacted the Hudson County Juvenile Intake Unit regarding a 16-year-old township boy whom they had arrested for receiving stolen property.

According to Police Chief John Dowie, rather than acceding to the request to send the teen to the Juvenile Detention Center, officials advised the KPD to release him to his guardian. Apparently, the county did not consider the offense serious enough to warrant detention.

But the kid ended up at the center anyway. The very next day. Following a new arrest — this time, for robbery.

Dowie said it marked the 50th “encounter” Kearny police have had with this juvenile since 2010.

Last week’s drama started at 6:30 a.m. Wednesday, when Officer Steven Hroncich took a report from a Johnston Ave. resident regarding a bicycle stolen from her yard sometime overnight. The woman noted she had registered the bike with the Montclair PD when she was living in that town, and she provided a detailed description, including the make, the model, the color — and the ID number the MPD had inscribed on it.

At 3:15 p.m., Officer John Fabula, who had read the theft report after coming on duty at 2, spotted a cycle matching the description being ridden by the aforementioned 16-yearold at Kearny Ave. and Beech St. When Fabula inspected it, he found the Montclair ID number, police said.

Since there was no direct evidence linking the boy to the actual theft, he was charged with receiving stolen property and was brought to headquarters. It was then that the request to county was made, and denied.

The juvenile was released to the custody of his grandmother.

On Oct. 30, at 6 p.m., a 17-year-old from Kearny notified police that he had been robbed near Belgrove Drive and Afton St.

Sgt. Charles Smith and Officer Chris Levchak responded to the scene, where the victim told them he had been walking across the athletic field when he was assaulted. He said he was punched in the head and knocked to the ground and was robbed of his cell phone and $5.

A description was obtained and a short time later Sgt. Peter Gleason detained suspects at Kearny Ave. and Afton St. The victim was brought there and provided identification, police said.

Charged with robbery and conspiracy were Jomar Diaz, 21, of Newark, and the same 16-year-old apprehended the previous day with the bicycle.

Diaz was remanded to the Hudson County Jail on $25,000 bail.

The juvenile was finally sent to the Youth House.

Dowie said the KPD›s file on the teen dates to June 2010, when the boy, then 13 years old, was charged with assault. Subsequent charges have reportedly ranged from curfew violation to armed robbery (with a firearm). The 50 “encounters” have also involved allegations of theft, robbery, harassment, trespass, making terroristic threats, and aggravated assault, the chief said.

The Observer Staff