Undercovers nab accused package thieves


Two grinches who thought they were going to steal Christmas from an unsuspecting Nutley resident didn’t quite get what they had hoped for, thanks to the quick thinking of Nutley detectives on directed patrol.

Nutley police said they received a call from a township resident at 2 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 14, reporting that one of his packages had just been stolen.

Undercover detectives in the area stopped a silver 2010 Mazda SUV shortly thereafter near Hopper Ave. and discovered the vehicle was filled with more than 30 shipped packages belonging to several Nutley residents.

Officer Sean Swift and Det. James Baunhuber placed Mauricio Guaman, 33, of Newark and Grace Cardenas, 33, also of Newark, under arrest for possession the packages. Both were charged with third-degree theft and were later released on their own recognizance, pending court hearings.

Police Director Alphonse Petracco said the NPD has implemented a program that identifies crime trends and directs manpower to the projected areas.

“This was a classic example of deploying officers at a time and place where crime was occurring, and yielded two arrests today,” Petracco said. “Last week, we deployed undercover officers to area locations identified as probable targets, which resulted in four arrests with actors possessing over $6,000 worth of goods from a shoplifting spree. Our department is working smarter – and these arrests are the result.”

Chief Thomas Strumolo, meanwhile, commended the arresting officers, and warns that this is the time of year burglaries, thefts and frauds tend to escalate.

“By utilizing the public as the department’s ears and eyes, combined with Intelligence LED policing, and increased patrols, we intend to send a message that Nutley is not the town to commit crimes in,” Strumolo said.

Kevin Canessa | Journalist & Webmaster

Kevin Canessa Jr. is a journalist and webmaster at The Observer. He is responsible for the editorial content on the newspaper's website, the production of the e-Edition, covering the Nutley Police Department and more behind the scenes. From 2006 to 2008, he served as the editor of The Observer, where he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video for the very first time. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Fla., for four years until February 2016 and in 2016, moved back to Kearny to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.