MANVILLE, NJ – A car was set on fire and tires were slashed on 42 vehicles parked on the streets and in driveways early Wednesday morning In an incident similar to three others that occurred in the northwest section of the borough in June and August, 2018 when a total of 155 cars were targeted.
The June 3 slashings were discovered when fire and police officers responded to the car fire on North 8th Avenue at 3:01 a.m. by which times reports were being called in about the slashings which occurred between 1 and 3 a.m. when heavy rain and thunderstorms were in the area, according to police.
The 2018 incidents occurred between June 11 and Aug. 23.
In the first incident June 11, 40 cars were targeted, and another vehicle set on fire between 2-4 a.m.;
On Aug. 2, between midnight and 4 a.m., 35 vehicles had their tires slashed;
Three weeks later, on Aug. 23, between midnight and 3 a.m., 80 cars were targeted, with a total of 130 tires slashed.
Somerset County Prosecutor Michael H. Robertson provided the following account:
The Manville Police Department responded to a 911 call reporting a fully engulfed motor vehicle fire in the area of North 8th Avenue; the Manville Fire Company responded to extinguish the fire and the Manville Fire Marshall arrived to investigate along with Manville police detectives who were told about the slashing incidents.
Detectives from the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Unit and Crime Scene Investigation Unit also responded to begin an investigation. Residents and victims are being interviewed and police are trying to obtain home security video surveillance film.
Police were able to obtain video footage of a possible suspect in one of the 2018 incidents, but it was difficult to identify who the person was, according to Robertson.
Police would not say whether the earlier incidents were connected to Wednesday's tire slashings and fire.
"It's hard to say, we really don't know at this point," Robertson said. "I don't want to speculate, but it does seem consistent with what happened in the previous incidents, but it's too early to tell."
A total of $3,750 in reward money was offered to anyone who helped to identify a suspect leading to a conviction, including $2,000 from the Manville PBA in the 2018 incidents.
Robertson and Manville Police Chief Marc Peltack request anyone with information relating to the motor vehicle fire or tire slashings to contact the Somerset County Prosecutors Office Major Crimes Unit at (908) 231-7100 or the Manville Police Department at (908) 725-7677 or via the STOPit app.
The STOPit app allows citizens to provide anonymous reports including videos and photos. STOPit can be downloaded to your smart phone for free at the Google Play Store or Apple App Store, access code: SOMERSETNJ.
Information can also be provided through the Somerset County Crime Stoppers’ Tip Line at 1-888-577-TIPS (8477). All anonymous STOPit reports and Crime Stopper tips will be kept confidential.