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Rash of North Jersey cargo thefts nipped, prosecutor says

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

Cargo thieves romped through Bergen, Hudson and other North Jersey counties, plucking items off more than two dozen vans in two towns alone, as one kept a lookout and the other used a “slim jim” to toggle his way in. Then someone got a peek at one of their vehicles and called police. Soon after, detectives from two towns and the Bergen County proscutor’s office were tailing two men from Newark.

Yesterday, after following them through four counties, the tracking team interrupted what they said was another break-in outside a Route 10 electronics store. Investigators believe the men are tied to dozens of similar incidents throughout the state.

slim jim

Area thefts from cargo vans parked in commercial lots along Route 17 began back in February,  Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli explained. In Paramus and East Rutherford alone, more than two dozen were reported.

Officers from the two towns joined up with detectives from Molinelli’s office, and eventually an eyewitness gave a Paramus detective a description of the two men and a partial license plate of their vehicle, the prosecutor said.

Last Wednesday, members of the task force began following Meguel Roman, 40, and Jose Rivera, 28, as the the pair “traveled throughout Middlesex, Essex, Morris, Passaic, Hudson and Bergen counties scouting commercial parking lots along various highway corridors in search of vans to steal and vehicles to burglarize,” Molinelli said.

On Thursday, Rivera approached a van in the parking lot of B.J.’s on Route 17 in Paramus and tried to pop the lock with a slim jim, to no avail, the prosecutor said.

Yesterday, task force detectives followed them through commercial parking lots in Hudson, Passaic and Bergen counties before they wound up outside the “Best Buy” on Route 10 located in East Hanover, he said.

As Roman kept a lookout, Rivera used the tool to get into the van. He was hauling stuff out when detectives moved in, Molinelli said. Although he struggled a bit, both men were arrested, the prosecutor said.

Roman and Rivera are being held on $50,000 bail each, charged with various counts, including conspiracy, burglary, and attempted theft, among them. Roman also was charged with resisting arrest, the prosecutor said.

Molinelli gave kudos to the Paramus, East Rutherford and East Hanover police departments for their roles in the investigation and arrests.

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