Four men caught by Paterson police stripping cars could be responsible for the thefts of up to 15 vehicles found dumped in the area, authorities said Thursday.
Officers Justin Lewinski and Wojciech Kulbabinski rolled up on two suspects and two U-Haul trucks in the dead end of East Holsman Street early Wednesday evening, Public Safety Director Jerry Speziale said.
A dirt lot there off North Bridge Street has become a spot where stolen vehicles are brought and stripped of doors, hoods and trunks, he explained.
Lewinski and Kulbabinski spotted Xavier Nunez, 34, of East Orange, and Luis Castellano Guzman, 25, of Paterson walking toward the driver's side of one of the U-Hauls, Speziale said.
Seeing them, Guzman turned around and returned to the lot, he said.
The officers summoned backup while taking Nunez into custody, Speziale said.
Kulbabinski then began following Castellano and two other suspects as they walked away from the lot, shouting to them to stop, he said.
The trio turned and bolted down the riverbank at the end of Bergen Street and into the Passaic River toward the 6th Avenue Bridge, the director said.
The suspects were muddy and wet as they emerged through an open pathway toward North 1st Street and ducked into an industrial building along the river, Speziale said.
Police converged on the building, where Officers Lucero Mucio and Jensin Burgos found and arrested Castellano and the two others -- identified as Luis Aybar-Martinez and Cesar Lora, both 25 of Paterson -- as they tried to hide, he said.
Back on East Holsman Street, police found a white Honda SUV that had been reported stolen out of Haledon. Inside of the U-Hauls -- which itself had been reported stolen -- were the Honda's four doors and hood, along with other parts.
Another Honda SUV found on the block with its rear passenger window shattered and a bogus VIN number in the front windshield had been stolen by the suspects out of Lyndhurst.
The officers retrieved an X Tool X100 Pad2, which is used to program key fob computer chips, and a Honda Accord that police believe the suspects arrived in. They also found Lora carrying a key fob for one of the stolen vehicles and Aybar-Martinez packing various burglary tools Speziale said.
Nunez was charged with receiving stolen property and later released.
The other three were sent to the Passaic County Jail after being charged with receiving stolen property, resisting arrest, obstruction, receiving stolen property and possession of burglary tools.
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