PATERSON, NJ - They could have looked the other way. After all, Paterson had more than 1,800 burglaries last year. What difference would a few more make?
But Paterson still has people who care about their neighborhoods, who won't tolerate crime, and who are willing to do something about it.
In separate incidents in different parts of the city on Tuesday afternoon, Patersonians intervened during burglary attempts and helped authorities catch the suspects, said Lt. Richard Reyes.
In one instance, Reyes said, a woman grabbed a man while he was trying to break into a house. In another, a man called police and then followed the alleged burglars until police could arrive on the scene. In a third case, a citizen who tried to stop someone from breaking into a car fought off a knife attack and pinned his assailant on the ground.
All that happened within a span of 67 minutes on Tuesday. In an effort to protect them, authorities would not release the names of the heroes.
Here is Reyes' account of the three cases:
At 1:21 pm, on the 200 block of E. 31st Street in the 3rd Ward, a 51-year-old man spotted three people committing a burglary, making off with televisions and other goods. The man called police and then trailed the suspects, updating authorities with their exact location.
Officer Joel Torres arrived and arrested the three of them - Bradul Caceras-Cruz, 40, of Broadway; Tami Thomas, 42, of Broadway; and Alfadiana Macreen, 31, of Broadway.
At 1:55 pm, on the 700 block of E. 18th Street in the 5th Ward, a 34-year-old woman saw a man trying to break into a house. The woman lived on the block; so did the 60-year-old suspect. She held him until Police Officers Alonso Bermudez and Saleh Judeh arrived on the scene. Arrested was Gerald Stewart.
At 2:228 pm, at the corner of Main Street and Lee Place, on the border of the 1st and 5th Wards, a witness saw a man break into a car and try to steal a GPS from inside. When the witness tried to stop him, the suspect pulled knife. But after a scuffle, the witness subdued his attacker. Police Officer Tamiko White then arrived and arrested 50-year-old Herman Velez.