Out of jail, serial burglar back at it again, cops say

Gerard McCollum mugshot


By Ron Leir

A Kearny man who is no stranger to local gendarmes was picked up recently by police and charged with a series of burglaries dating back several weeks.
Gerard McCollum, 40, formerly of Harrison, was arrested Dec. 1 at 9:30 p.m. at Kearny Ave. and Halstead St. on warrants charging him with eight counts of burglary to a motor vehicle.
The most recent of those alleged crimes involved the burglary of a car parked on Quincy St. and the removal of two GPS units valued at between $350 and $400 on Nov. 30, Police Chief John Dowie said.
Dowie said the other incidents to which McCollum has been linked were vehicular burglaries at locations scattered around town where entry was made either to an unlocked car or with the use of “slim-jim” pry tool, Dowie said.
Records show that since November 2002, McCollum has been arrested 20 times in Kearny for crimes typically involving burglary, theft, receiving stolen property, resisting arrest and eluding police and he has had three periods of confinement, the most recent lasting from Sept. 2007 to March 2011, according to Dowie.
Dowie credited Det. Lt. Anthony Gouveia with leading an investigation into McCollum’s recent alleged criminal activities that resulted in the securing of arrest warrants and a stakeout of the area around Kearny Ave. and Halstead St. on the night of Dec. 1, culminating in the suspect’s arrest.
McCollum is currently being held at the Hudson County Jail, Kearny, awaiting court action.
Dowie advised residents to exercise caution when parking their vehicles, to properly secure them and to avoid leaving valuables in open view, especially now during the holiday shopping period, so as not to tempt potential thieves.
“ ‘Tis the season, as we say,” the chief noted.
In another high-profile crime event that took place during the past week, two Kearny cops had a close call during a high-speed chase, led by State Police, of a driver in a stolen car in the early morning hours of Dec. 6.
Dowie said Officers Adrian Marques and Barry Green were in a patrol car at 1:30 a.m. monitoring a State Police radio broadcast alerting local cops to their pursuit of a stolen 2003 Chevrolet Avalanche pickup on Rt. 280 East.
As the pursuit proceeded off of the highway and onto Harrison Ave., then to Fish House Road in South Kearny, Marques and Green joined the chase and sought to block the Avalanche as it zoomed along Jacobus Ave.
Instead of stopping, however, the driver attempted to ram the officers’ patrol car head-on, but the officers avoided the collision and pursued the suspect into the River Terminal parking lot.
As the suspect tried to exit the lot, the Avalanche sideswiped the officers’ car along the passenger’s side door, and, at one point, climbed a grassy mound before heading away.
Before giving up the pursuit, the officers last saw the Avalanche traveling north in the southbound lane of Rt. 1&9, heading for Jersey City, where police from that city were waiting on the other side of the Rt. 1&9 bridge.
There, Jersey City cops managed to stop the Avalanche and arrest the driver, David Spurgeon, 36, of Plainfield.
For his actions in Kearny, Spurgeon was charged with possession of a weapon (the Avalanche) for unlawful purpose and two counts of aggravated assault on a police officer.
Dowie commended Green and Marques for “keeping their heads” under pressure. “No shots were fired during the pursuit,” he added.
Neither officer was injured and aside from a dent on the passenger side, their patrol car remained in service, Dowie said.
In another incident, a Kearny man who began the night of Dec. 3 watching a boxing match on TV at a friend’s house on Tappan St. ended up the bloodied victim of an unplanned violent encounter with a stranger on the street in the early hours of Dec. 4.
Dowie said the 40-year-old resident told police he’d just left his buddy’s place and had reached the corner of Kearny Ave. and Hoyt St. when he met a man he didn’t know. For some reason, unknown to police, the stranger hit the resident in the face with a liquor bottle and took off, running, north along Kearny Ave.
The resident, who Dowie said, “was cut up pretty good,” shouted for help and that brought his friend to the scene, but all he could do at that point was call police for help. The incident was logged in at 3:19 a.m.
Dowie said the victim was taken to the emergency room at University Hospital & Medical Center, Newark, where he was held for possible plastic surgery.
On Dec. 3, at 10:45 a.m., Det. Michael Gonzalez collared Juan Munoz, 42, of Kearny, after Munoz – who appeared to be intoxicated – interacted with several juveniles in a way that frightened them. After learning that Munoz was wanted on an outstanding $532 warrant from Woodbridge, Gonzalez placed him under arrest. Munoz was held until Woodbridge cops could pick him up.
At 3:45 p.m. on Dec. 5, at Quincy and Ivy Sts., Officer Michael Andrews pulled over a car whose 19-year-old driver reportedly wasn’t wearing a seat belt. After detecting a marijuana-like odor wafting from the car, Andrews looked inside and found a glass pipe typically associated with the smoking of marijuana in the ashtray. He also discovered a cigarette package containing a partly smoked “blunt” and a Xanax tablet. The teen was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and two counts of possession of a controlled dangerous substance.
Officer Neil Nelson arrested Eli Santos, 41, of Kearny, at 3 p.m. on Dec. 5 at Johnston and Grant Aves. in connection with an outstanding $250 Kearny warrant stemming from a theft. Santos was released after posting bail.

Learn more about the writer ...