Police have nearly lost count of the number of times serial car burglar Isaiah Jones has been released only to strike again in community after community in Bergen and Hudson counties.
It happened again Friday night when Edgewater police said they caught Jones entering unlocked vehicles in the parking lot of a River Road shopping center barely 500 feet from their headquarters.
The 29-year-old Bayonne resident has become a local bail reform poster boy of sorts.
Two weeks ago, Edgewater police arrested Jones for breaking into vehicles at the Viva Margarita Restaurant on Old River Road, across from the shopping center.
A judge in Hackensack ordered him released, and the very next day he was arrested in Weehawken for breaking into cars.
Once again, Jones was released under New Jersey’s bail reform law, which requires certain circumstances for a judge to legally order a defendant held until trial.
It’s nothing new for the 6-foot-2-inch, 160-pound serial offender.
Jones made local headlines in 2017, the year New Jersey’s Bail Reform and Speedy Trial Act was enacted: He was arrested and released three times in Hudson County and once in Bergen (Paramus), all for vehicle burglaries and/or attempts.
At the urging of New Jersey’s Supreme Court, the State Legislature adopted the measure in 2016, which then-Gov. Chris Christie immediately signed into law.
Bail reform’s goal was to decrease jail populations and save counties money by eliminating bail in most criminal cases and, instead, requiring judges to use a “public safety assessment score” to determine whether a defendant is a threat to the community or flight risk who must remain behind bars.
One of the rationales was that major drug dealers and wealthier defendants accused of sexual assault, armed robbery or other major crimes could pay their way out of jail until trial, while poorer, mostly minority defendants who couldn’t raise the cash had to remain behind bars for low-level offenses.
Supporters say the state has realized the overall goal of bail reform, with measured decreases in jail populations and violent crime. Police, however, say the collateral damage has been a drastic spike in property crime committed by the same offenders over and over again.
Although some defendants have conditions attached to their release, many are let go with no more than a “promise to appear” in court.
A large number don’t show and continue being arrested. The outstanding warrants for failing to appear pile up.
Isaiah Jones is a prime example.
Edgewater police were called to the HomeGoods parking lot around the corner from their headquarters at 8 p.m. Friday on a report of a man stealing valuables from unlocked vehicles, Detective Sgt. Tim Farrell said.
Detective Robert Carrano quickly spotted Jones, by now a familiar face, near the Pier 115 Bar and Grill.
He was carrying items stolen from vehicles parked in the HomeGoods lot, Farrell said.
Turns out he was also wanted on a warrant out of Newark, records show.
Jones was charged with burglary, theft, possession of burglary tools and criminal attempt (for failed tries to get into locked vehicles) and sent to the Bergen County Jail.
He remained there Saturday morning awaiting his next appointment with a judge.
Meanwhile, Farrell reminded drivers that few burglars actually break into cars. They simply test door handles until opportunity presents itself, then help themselves to your stuff.
Always lock your vehicle, no matter where you leave it, and you won't become a victim.
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