A car crash in Hackensack and an alert officer in Cedar Grove produced key evidence in the takedown of a mixed-gender crew believed responsible for 84 home burglaries in eight New Jersey counties and Rockland, authorities said.
Investigators armed with a search warrant found proceeds from one of the burglaries in a Mercedes-Benz GL 450 that Keith Perry, 38, of Teaneck crashed in March, state Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal said.
Perry was identified as a burglar who threatened an Englewood homeowner by "making a motion with his hand inside his sweatshirt as though he had a gun" and saying, “I’ll shoot you,” last December.
Investigators later learned that Porsche Brown, age 29, of Lodi hocked a “significant” amount of apparently stolen jewelry at a pawn shop in Vineland, Grewal said.
Before the lead detectives were done, dozens of police departments and other law enforcement agencies had participated in a probe that led to four arrests, he said.
Perry, Brown, Gregory Lewis, age 38, of Teaneck and Kay Brown, age 23, of Paterson (no relation to Porsche Brown) were charged in connection with 16 burglaries in Bergen, Passaic, Morris, Essex, Somerset, Middlesex, Monmouth, Union and Rockland counties from October of last year through March, the attorney general said.
More than a half-million dollars in cash, jewelry, and other valuables were taken in the break-ins, he said, adding that the defendants were being eyed in another 68 burglaries.
The M.O. in each was the same, Grewal said: The burglars forced their way in through a door, usually in the afternoon or early evening, ran to the master bedroom and other areas of the house and fled with the goods.
Perry was the last of the defendants arrested when members of the U.S. Marshals Service Fugitive Task Force captured him in North Carolina last Friday. He remained held in the Union County, NC Jail pending extradition proceedings, Grewal said.
The other three were arrested in New Jersey in early April and have remained held pending trial, the attorney general said. Charges include burglary, theft, conspiracy and receiving stolen property, he said.
Perry was identified as the robber who forced his way into a home in an exclusive Englewood neighborhood and threatened to kill the owner on Dec. 23, 2020.
The multi-agency investigation was led by the state Division of Criminal Justice, New Jersey State Police and the New Milford, Teaneck and Verona police department, assisted by the Essex and Somerset county prosecutor’s offices and 40 municipal police departments (see list below).
“This is an outstanding example of law enforcement collaboration,” Grewal said. “We worked with law enforcement agencies across nearly half of New Jersey to identify and arrest the [defendants].”
“The strength of law enforcement in New Jersey is enhanced by our strong collaborative relationships,” DCJ Director Veronica Allende added.
The lead investigators:
- NJ State Police: Detective Sgt. Brian Kearns, Investigator Erica Benedetti, Investigator Jessica Butt;
- Verona PD: Detective Thomas J Conroy III;
- New Milford PD: Lt. Kevin VanSanders, Detective Sgt. Nelson Perez, Detectives Derek Mattessich and Brian Carlino, Officer Adam Conboy;
- Teaneck PD: Detective Gabriel Santiago
A huge assist came from Cedar Grove and Verona police, authorities said.
Grewal also cited the participating police departments from: Bedminster, Berkeley Heights, Bernardsville, Boonton, Bridgewater, Clarkstown (NY), Clinton Township, Englewood, Fairview, Glen Rock, Hackensack, Haledon, Harrington Park, Holmdel, Little Falls, Livingston, Madison, Manalapan, Marlboro, Milburn, Monroe, Montclair, Montville, North Caldwell, North Haledon, Northvale, Paramus, Parsippany-Troy Hills, Pearl River (NY), Randolph, Tenafly, Totowa, Warren Township, Washington Township (Bergen County), Watchung, Wayne, West Orange, Woodcliff Lake and Wyckoff.
Deputy Attorney General Attorney Matthew Lafargue and Detectives Scott Caponi and Sang Han are assigned to the investigation for the DCJ.
DCJ Detective Shawn Gorlin, who is a member of the U.S. Marshals Service Fugitive Task Force, led the fugitive investigation.
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