Two burglars who tried to blend in as home-repair contractors in Lyndhurst were arrested following a police pursuit that ended when they crashed a stolen commercial truck in Newark, authorities said.
Credit for the capture goes to area residents, Lyndhurst police said.
The driver, Nathaniel Barreto, 39, of Newark took off on foot after the crash but was quickly grabbed, Detective Lt. Vincent Auteri said.
Passenger Philip Zaragoza, 41, also of Newark, said he was having withdrawal from using heroin, fentanyl, and cocaine and was quickly taken to an area hospital, he said.
Officer Anthony Giaquinto spotted the box truck while responding to a call of a man in a suspicious commercial vehicle who was seen trying to break into a home on Peabody Avenue, Auteri said.
Seeing the officer, Barreto hit the gas, speeding onto Riverside Avenue and into North Arlington before crossing the Route 7 bridge into Belleville, the lieutenant said.
He eventually headed into Newark, reaching speeds up to 70 miles an hour, running lights and stop signs and sideswiping cars along the way, Auteri said.
An Essex County sheriff's unit joined the chase before the truck finally slammed into a parked car and stopped, he said, adding that no injuries were reported.
Giaquinto was joined at the scene by Lyndhurst Sgt. Richard Jasinski and Detective William Kapp.
By that time, Detective Thomas McSweeney had learned that the burglars had broken into one home and tried a couple others, Auteri said.
They'd tried to blend into the area by posing as contractors repairing homes damaged by flooding from Tropical Storm Ida, McSweeney found.
The vehicle also had been reported stolen, Auteri said.
Kapp obtained a warrant, searched the truck and found stolen bank checks, burglary tools and an airsoft gun, he said.
Barreto and Zaragoza were charged with was charged with resisting arrest, receiving stolen property, possession of burglary tools and possession of an imitation firearm.
Barreto also was charged with eluding, forgery and attempted burglary.
Barreto remained held in the Essex County Jail on an outstanding county warrant.
Zaragoza, who'd originally been released under bail reform before Lyndhurst police could charge him, was arrested by Belleville police on their warrant on Thursday.
The turned Zaragoza over to their Lyndhurst colleagues, who sent him to the Bergen County Jail to await a first appearance in Central Judicial Processing Court in Hackensack.
Auteri said his department owe gratitude to the "vigilant residents of the neighborhood who quickly reported the suspicious activity.
"It's this type of vigilance and cooperation with the police that helps keep a community safe," he said.
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