PROSPECT PARK, NJ – A crime spree which victimized residents of Prospect Park and Clifton came to an end when Prospect Park Detective Walter Richmond and Police Officer Arthur Canestrino cracked a case of burglaries and thefts Wednesday. A resident of Prospect Park reported the theft of approximately $40,000 worth of “Indian style” jewelry, along with electronics and cash. No less than five burglaries and thefts victimized residents of Clifton, where an estimated total of $167,000 worth of electronics, jewelry, and two Smith & Wesson pistols were stolen.
The Prospect Park Police were able to bring the matter to its conclusion while conducting an investigation of a local burglary on Friday, June 22. Surveillance footage being reviewed at the site of the crime allowed Richmond and Canestrino to identify the vehicle used by the suspect. From there, they were able to find it parked in the City of Passaic. The police found the vehicle's owner, who in turn identified a 17-year-old as the driver during the crime committed.
The police searched the vehicle and located jewelry which had been reported stolen in Prospect Park.
Further investigation by the police connected Michael Rodriguez, 20, of Passaic, as being a suspect in the burglaries. According to a statement from the Prospect Park Police, both Rodriguez and the juvenile, whose name was not revealed due to the individual being under 18, claimed to be members of the Trinatario Gang.
The Trinatarios, or “3ni”, are a violent Dominican-American gang based out of New York City with reported activity in the throughout the New York City Metropolitan Area, the Caribbean, and Spain. The Trinatarios made national headlines on June 20 when 15-year-old Lesandro “Junior” Guzman-Feliz was brutally murdered by five gang members with a machete at a Bronx bodega, in what was allegedly a case of “mistaken identity.” Guzman-Feliz died of his injuries, suffering multiple stab and slash wounds.
In the early afternoon of June 26, Prospect Park Detective Richmond, Officer Canestrino, and Sheriff’s Office Detectives Robert Torres and Daniel Tarkey arrested the juvenile connected with the crimes on a Juvenile Delinquency Complaint. The minor was charged with “burglary, theft, criminal mischief, and possession of burglary tools.” The juvenile was afterward released to the custody of a guardian.
Michael Rodriguez was arrested the same day, at approximately 6:10 p.m., at his Passaic home by Detective Richmond and Officer Canestrino, joined by Sheriff’s Office Detectives Torres, Atli Sela, John Tolerico, and Corporal Martin Sanabria. As the police placed Rodriguez under arrest, a sweep of the residence turned up stolen jewelry, including a Panerai watch valued at $25,000, three ounces of suspected marijuana, cash, as well as materials and equipment used for the packaging and distribution of drugs.
Rodriguez was charged with “burglary, theft, possession of burglary tools, criminal mischief, receiving stolen property, possession of marijuana, possession with the intent to distribute, possession of drug paraphernalia, and use of a minor to commit a criminal offense,” according to a statement from the Prospect Park Police Department.
Both Passaic County Sheriff Richard H. Berdnik and Prospect Park Police Chief Charlie Atie had glowing words for those involved with the successful operation. “This successful investigation stopped a two-person crime spree in its tracks,” Sheriff Berdnik said. “The fact that this investigation yielded two arrests and will prevent countless other criminal activity is significant. I want to commend both the Prospect Park and PCSO Detectives involved in solving these crimes.”
Chief Atie joined the sheriff in his praise, saying, “I want to commend all the officers involved in this investigation on a job well done, where they utilized good old fashion police work, displaying great investigative skills which led to the apprehension of multiple suspects, and ultimately ended a multi-jurisdiction burglary spree.”
Rodriguez was transported to the Passaic County Jail in Paterson, pending a Central Judicial Processing hearing.
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