By Ron Leir
NORTH ARLINGTON –
Two Passaic men driving two stolen cars were collared in North Arlington early on March 12 after they led police from several surrounding communities on a wild chase that included a foot pursuit through Holy Cross Cemetery.
North Arlington Police Capt. James Hearn gave this account of the episode:
At 3:01 a.m., a borough patrol officer traveling on Hendel Ave. near Ridge Road observed a dark-colored Mercury make a sharp turn off Ridge on to Hendel, followed by a silver Toyota, both ignoring a stop sign.
The officer then activated his overhead lights and attempted to conduct a motor-vehicle stop but, at that point, both vehicles sped up and fled the scene, with the officer in pursuit.
Both the Mercury and the Toyota made multiple turns and ran multiple stop signs, proceeding down to River Road where the Toyota continued straight on that road while the Mercury turned on to Boston Ave.
The officer opted to follow the Mercury for several blocks, eventually, on to Schuyler Ave. where the driver of the Mercury — which had sustained damage to one tire — lost control of the vehicle, which struck a curb, causing it to spin out of control and strike the curb on the opposite side of the street, where it came to rest.
At this point, the driver, later identified as, 23, jumped out, climbed a fence and fled through Holy Cross Cemetery.
Borough police conducted a search for the driver but came up empty.
But the NAPD had put out a call for help and, a short time later, with the aid of officers from the Kearny PD, Lyndhurst PD, Rutherford PD and East Rutherford PD, along with Bergen County Police Department, police spotted a man walking on River Road near the Belleville Pike and stopped him for questioning.
He was identified as Aaron Deleon, 19, who, investigators learned, had sometime earlier dumped the Toyota — the other vehicle involved in the original chase — in the middle of Biltmore St. and began walking through the borough.
After discovering that Deleon was wanted on an active no-bail warrant from Bergen County, police arrested him on the warrant.
Investigators later determined that Deleon and Hill had stolen the Toyota in Clifton earlier in the evening and, as the pair drove through Lyndhurst, Hill jumped out and stole the Mercury that the NAPD officer later ended up in pursuit of, along with the Toyota.
Meanwhile, police responded to Beaver Ave. and Legion Place after a resident had called about a suspicious party wandering in the area. That individual turned out to be Hill, who, police surmise, had crossed through the cemetery to the opposite end. He was placed under arrest.
Investigators determined that Deleon and Hill had stolen the Toyota in Clifton earlier in the evening and, while traveling through Lyndhurst, Hill had exited and stolen the Mercury before both took off in separate cars, ending up in North Arlington.
Both Deleon and Hill were charged with receiving stolen property (the vehicles) and eluding police and were also issued multiple motor vehicle summonses for driving while suspended, failing to stop for red light signals, failing to comply with stop sign, reckless driving, among others.
Hill was additionally charged with obstruction for fleeing the NAPD officer on Schuyler Ave. and defiant trespass by entering the cemetery after normal hours.
Both were sent to Bergen County Jail.
Bail for Hill was set at $23,500 with no 10% cash option; bail for Deleon was fixed at $20,000, also with no 10% option.