ALLENDALE, N.J. – (UPDATE) A manhunt and chase that included tracking dogs and a helicopter ended before dawn Monday with the arrest of a former Allendale resident charged in a half-dozen overnight borough burglaries that all occurred while the victims were home.
Detectives who were looking for 20-year-old Justinian Rocco began chasing him on foot after he got off an NJ Transit train at 12:30 a.m., Police Chief George Scherb said.
Rocco ran through several yards and wooded areas – and even entered another home, Scherb said.
Daily Voice broke the news of the arrest earlier Monday morning:
Neighboring police departments helped set a perimeter, while Mahwah police sent a K-9 unit and State Police dispatched a helicopter with a searchlight and heat-seeking camera.
“They had searchlights and were looking into garage windows, sheds, vehicles, bushes, even a Dumpster where a house for sale was being cleared out,” one resident said. “They’re exceptionally thorough.”
Although only 20, Rocco already has a lengthy sheet of charges following area arrests -- for, among other offenses, burglary, theft, resisting arrest, harassment and credit card theft.
He “has no fixed address but had been staying somewhere in Paterson," Scherb told Daily Voice.
Authorities believe Rocco committed two burglaries on May 7t, followed by three residential and one vehicle burglary last Tuesday – all between midnight and 5 a.m. “while residents were at home,” the chief said.
“Each time he was able to enter and leave the homes without waking the occupants,” he said.
During Monday’s overnight search, police spotted Rocco riding a bicycle on George Street and began to chase him again, Scherb said.
He jumped off the bike ran behind Hillside School, where the officers took him into custody after a brief struggle, the chief said.
Police charged Rocco with several counts of burglary, theft and criminal mischief, as well as eluding, resisting arrest, possession of drugs and probation violation.
Scherb thanked his colleagues from Mahwah, Saddle River, Upper Saddle River, Ramsey, Waldwick and Wyckoff, as well as the NJSP.
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