Cops nab suspect in church burglary

A man who police described as the “primary suspect” in last year’s theft of a sacred relic – since recovered – from Holy Cross Church has been arrested after police said he was allegedly spotted returning to the scene of the crime.

Calvin Battle, 56, listed as homeless, was nabbed at 1:35 p.m. last Thursday, Jan. 15, outside the Holy Cross Rectory after police had received a call that someone was trying to break into the church.

According to a police incident report, Det. Sgt. Dave Doyle, in plainclothes at the time, spotted a black man wearing a blue puffy jacket and green skull cap standing next to the church entrance on Church Square and approached after having recalled seeing his picture on a wanted poster from South Orange where he was sought as a burglary suspect.

After calling for – and getting backup – from Officer Ray McGuire, Sgt. Rich Lourenco and Lt. Ed Markowski – Doyle asked the man’s name and the man reportedly replied: “Michael Lindsay” and said that he’d just come from the church. At this point, police detained the man while McGuire interviewed the church worker who’d called police to the scene.

The employee told police they’d seen the suspect in a private area of the church where the public was not allowed and yelled at him to leave, at which point, the man walked towards the public area of the church and, a short time later, tried to enter two church employees’ parked cars in the church’s rear parking area by pulling on the door handles, after which he tried – unsuccessfully – to open several doors near the rear of the rectory not accessible by the public.

At that point, the employee said they lost sight of the man until he was observed pushing up the screen on one of the secured rear windows of the rectory in an effort to get inside.

Battle was then placed under arrest and charged with three counts of attempted burglary.

After checking national and state digital criminal data bases, police learned that Battle was also wanted by Cranford PD as a suspect in two church burglaries reported Nov. 8, 2014, at Cranford United Methodist Church and St. Michael’s Church.

In another incident, police have charged a Newark man who, they said, has been sought since early December as a suspect in stealing three packages delivered to two Harrison addresses after being captured on video surveillance tape at those locations.

Police said Ricardo Santos, 36, was charged with three counts of theft, possession of burglar tools and was also wanted on a Hudson County Sheriff’s Department warrant for nonsupport.

Police said Det. Corey Karas spotted Santos walking south on Frank E. Rodgers Blvd. South near Somerset St. last Tuesday, Jan. 13, at 4:20 p.m., and, having recognized him from previous arrests, followed him for one block and then called for backup. After identifying himself as a police officer, Karas arrested Santos and a search by officers reportedly revealed a pair of wire cutters/bolt cutters inside Santos’s waist band, along with a box containing a D-Link wireless router in its original packaging inside a blue plastic bag.

Police said Santos told them he’d received the package from a friend earlier that day but couldn’t remember the friend’s name or address. Police confiscated the items and, after booking Santos, transported him to Hudson County Jail pending a court appearance.

Police said Santos allegedly stole deliveries from the front steps of residences in the 300 block of Essex St. on Nov. 28, 2014, and from the same location in the 100 block of S. Third St. on Dec. 10, 2014, and Dec. 13, 2014. None of the packages were recovered.

– Ron Leir

The Observer Staff