YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A Mahwah detective cracked a series of car burglaries, leading to charges against a career criminal arrested by police in Summit.
The cars, parked on Brookwood Drive and Aspen Court, were burglarized the night of Oct. 16 into the 17th. Taken were wallets, credit cards, idenfication, a GPS unit, an iPod Touch, power tools and loose change, Police Chief James Batelli said.
“All of the vehicles were unlocked,” Batelli said early this afternoon. “It was believed [he] was looking for. key fobs in order to steal the vehicles.”
Around the same time, similar incidents were occuring elsewhere in Bergen County, as well as in Union and Morris, the chief said.
Detective Michael Grassi obtained the credit card information from the Mahwah victims and the credit card companies, including completed transactions and declined attempts.
One involved a credit card used at an Exxon station in Ridgewood at 5 a.m. Oct. 17, hours after the thefts. Surveillance footage showed him paying for gas and cigarettes (see image, above). Alerts were issued to area police agencies, Batelli said.
Grassi followed the transaction trail to the Elizabeth/Newark area, where the thief bought and tried to purchase a video game console and more gas.
Then Summit police issued a description of the same man following five other car burglaries. They included a surveillance photo in which he was wearing the same striped “Brooklyn” hat as in Ridgewood, Batelli said.
On Oct. 30, they arrested a suspect — identified as 28-year-old Jason R Madrey of Elizabeth — who had active warrants as well as a lengthy criminal history, the chief said.
Madrey was out on bail from an earlier arrest in Toms River, where police said they caught him driving a stolen car while on the suspended list.
Summit police seized “the same hat, sweatshirt and vest that [Madrey] was wearing during our incidents” when they arrested him last week, Batelli said.
Madrey, who was being held in the Union County Jail, was charged by Grassi with three counts of burglary, three counts of theft and one count of credit card theft.
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