A career criminal with a 15-year rap sheet in a slew of Bergen County towns made it easy for Elmwood Park detectives to identify him as the burglar who threw a brick through the front window of a local Friendly’s the night before, authorities said.
Responding to a Thursday night call of an unruly patron at the Banana King fast food restaurant on Route 46, Detectives Keith Hartmann and Thomas Giammanco found Ryan Patrick Morgan sitting at the bar, drinking a beer, Police Chief Michael Foligno said.
Both immediately recognized Morgan from surveillance video of Wednesday night’s break-in at the nearby Friendly’s, also on Route 46, Foligno said.
The tattooed ex-con was also wearing the same clothes from the night before, the chief said.
Morgan, 33, of Lodi, has been arrested dozens of times in Bergen County the 15 years since his 18th birthday, records show.
Over that time, he’s been busted in Carlstadt, Elmwood Park, Hackensack, Hasbrock Heights, Garfield, Lodi, Saddle Brook on charges that include robbery, resisting arrest and aggravated assault on a police officer, as well as a string of drug court and probation violations.
During a two-week span in 2017, Garfield police said, Morgan swiped a purse from an Applebee’s employee, broke the window of a liquor store in a failed burglary attempt and snatched a $650 iPhone from an AT&T store.
Morgan served seven months in state prison and was released last June after he was convicted of assaulting a Lodi police officer during a chase.
He most recently served five months in the Bergen County Jail on convictions for theft and criminal mischief, among other crimes, and was released on Feb. 6.
According to a cousin of his, Morgan "came from a really broken household filled with drugs and alcohol, and had a bad start from the beginning. He lost his father to AIDS when he was around.
"If you couple that in with educational deficits and behavioral health problems, furthermore leading into our broken system -- which is far from correctional -- he seemed further doomed as of late," the cousin said. "I hope the best for him."
The Elmwood Park detectives took Morgan into custody Thursday night after he gave them a fake name, Foligno said.
He remained held Friday in the Bergen County Jail pending a detention hearing in Central Judicial Processing Court in Hackensack on charges that include burglary, theft and hindering.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.