Special delivery – to jail

KPD Ricardo Santos
Ricardo Santos


As more people do their shopping via the Internet, there has been a corresponding increase in the number of packages being delivered to their homes — and being left at front doors, on porches, in apartment hallways because the intended recipients are not at home.

Not surprisingly, there has also been an increase in package thefts. Some thieves even keep an eye on the USPS, UPS and FedEx trucks, the better to grab a box within minutes of its being dropped off.

In case you’re wondering: No, they have no idea what’s actually in the box. It doesn’t matter. A thief could strike electronics gold, but even he finds only clothing, makeup, household items, whatever, there is likely someplace the criminal can fence the goods for cold cash.

The thefts are reportedly on the rise in New Jersey and are illustrated by a recent local case — which also illustrates the benefits of different jurisdictions’ sharing information.

Late last month, Kearny Police Chief John Dowie said, there was a series of package thefts reported around town. “Simultaneously,” he noted, “Belleville was experiencing the same type of thefts from porches and vestibules.”

The Belleville and Kearny PDs are both part of CORRSTAT, a database for law enforcement in towns along the Route 21 corridor. On July 10, Belleville posted a BOLO for a Mercury Sable seen in the area of several thefts.

Two days later, at about 7 a.m. July 12, off-duty Kearny Det. Michael Gonzalez, on his way home after an overnight shift, spotted a car fitting the Sable’s description parked at Kearny and Midland Aves. and, setting up surveillance, he saw an individual leave a nearby apartment building and enter the vehicle.

Gonzalez and Sgt. Paul Bershefski stopped the Sable at the Kearny/Harrison border and questioned the two occupants. One was cooperative, and one was not, Dowie said, but “based on information we already had, and that was gleaned from the stop,” a warrant was drawn up for Ricardo Santos, 37, of Newark.

On July 13, at 5 p.m., Gonzalez, Capt. Tim Wagner, Sgt. Dave Rakowski and Officers Sean Kelly and Jay Ward returned to the apartment house at Kearny and Midland. Occupants of a unit which Santos reportedly visited frequently denied knowing his whereabouts, so the police searched the building.

Wagner found the suspect hiding on the roof, Dowie said.

Santos was charged with conspiracy and theft and on an outstanding Harrison warrant for possession of burglar tools.

He was remanded to the Hudson County Jail on $20,000 bail, and Belleville was notified of the arrest.

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