They got the accused burglars but, unfortunately, none of the loot.
Nutley police said they’ve broken a string of residential burglaries, dating from late 2013, involving nine separate cases throughout the township, with the arrests of seven suspects.
On March 21, Nutley PD, working with Rutherford PD, arrested Wayne resident Steven Benedek, 61, on charges of burglary to three Nutley residences: one on Edison Ave. on Dec. 19, 2013; one on HIghfield Lane on Dec. 20, 2013; and one on Kingsland Ave. on Jan. 31.
Police said Benedek has a long history of burglary arrests in Nutley dating from 1972 and 1973.
According to Det. Sgt. Anthony Montanari, the suspect linked to the Edison, Highfield and Kingsland break-ins had a similar M.O. in each case: He struck during the late afternoon or early evening, gained entry by breaking a rear glass window and removed assorted jewelry and small items he could easily carry away.
“We have reason to believe the suspect was using public transportation – probably a bus,” Montanari said.
He estimated that the suspect got away with “close to $20,000” worth of proceeds from the various burglaries. None of the merchandise reported taken has been recovered, he said.
Police said Rutherford PD has additionally charged Benedek with burglaries to several homes in that jurisdiction.
Police have also arrested Giovanni Rivera, 24, of Newark, charging him with burglary to a Joerg Ave. residence on Jan. 16 after allegedly finding his fingerprints inside the Nutley dwelling, from which the occupant reported items valued at $6,000 taken. Police said Rivera was located in Newark and arrested without incident.
Police charged two Newark residents, Khalil Gilliam, 19, and Davon Harrington, 23, with burglary to a Daily St. residence on Jan. 22. Police said a 17-year-old Nutley resident was at home sitting on the couch when he saw one of the accused walk into the living room after climbing through an open window. Both suspects were additionally charged by Bloomfield PD with a burglary reported several hours earlier.
A 16-year-old Nutley girl and Glen Rojas, 26, of Passaic, have been charged with burglary to a Prospect St. home on Jan. 14. Rojas was also charged with theft from a Jefferson St. residence in December 2013. Montanari said police are investigating the possibility of “physical evidence” that could tie the pair to 10 other burglaries in Clifton, Garfield, Lodi and Little Falls.
And, based on the analysis of DNA from blood found at the scene of a Hillside Ave. burglary, police said they’ve issued an arrest warrant for Joseph Farina, 36, of Kenilworth.
Police said the arrest of three other suspects wanted in connection with an attempted burglary to a River Road residence is “imminent.”
In that incident, police said, the elderly resident managed to hold the door closed to prevent the intruders from entering. Police said detectives are in the process of matching forensic evidence with the damage to the door and tools recovered from the scene.
Police Chief Tom Strumolo said that he has responded to an uptick in burglaries reported locally from the end of 2013 into 2014 by assigning additional street patrols, forming special burglary details, and having the department’s Patrol and Detective bureaus working together day and night in cooperation with neighboring police agencies to try to solve these crimes.
Strumolo credited Mayor/ Public Safety Director Al Petracco for approving additional overtime funding to support the investigations.
Petracco and Strumolo each commended members of the Nutley PD for their hard work and dedication. “It’s a credit to our great police department,” the mayor added.
– Ron Leir