LYNDHURST, N.J. -- A group of Lyndhurst police officers quickly converged on a neighborhood following a report of a car burglary overnight Friday -- and caught their suspect hiding in a mulch bed, authorities told Daily Voice.
As of early Friday afternoon, 34-year-old Daniel Navarro of Newark was charged with six car burglaries in all -- with more charges possible as reports from victims come in, said Police Chief James O'Connor, who once again urged citizens to lock their cars.
The 55-year-old owner of a 2015 Mazda told officers he'd left his car unlocked -- with the keys still in it -- in the 500 block of Willow Avenue at 5 p.m. and returned at 2 a.m. to find that someone had rifled through it, O'Connor said.
Missing items included a ring with his house keys, the car fob and a gym swipe card, along with $250 sunglasses, $100 prescription glasses and a "correctional officer" watch, the Wood-Ridge resident told them.
A short time later officers found a 2009 Honda reported stolen out of Bloomfield -- and bearing different front and rear license plates -- near the scene of the break-in.
Sgt. Andrew Marmorato found the engine to the Honda still warm, so he called for a Bergen County Sheriff's K-9 unit while he and his colleagues "kept checking the area," O'Connor said.
BCSO Officer Leszec Lorenc and his partner, Harry, eventually joined the search while Officer Nicholas Abruscato stayed with the Honda.
A short time later, Abrucato "saw a black male jump onto the front retaining wall" of a Willow Avenue home and hide, the chief said.
The officer radioed headquarters and ran toward the area, spotting a black North Face back pack in a mulch bed on the other side of the wall, he said.
Inside the back pack police found wallets, sunglasses and the watch, as well as other items believed stolen from the unlocked vehicles, O'Connor said.
Marmourato got help setting up a perimeter from Nutley, North Arlington and Rutherford police from Page Avenue to Forest Avenue between Stuyvesant and Willow avenues.
A short time later, the chief said, officers found Navarro laying flat behind shrubs in the mulch bed about five feet from where the backpack was found. Nearby were several big-store credit cards in a woman's name.
Navarro was carrying items stolen from the Mazda in the pockets of his shorts, as well as nearly $260 in cash, he said.
A search for another possible suspect continued but was eventually called off.
The Honda was impounded.
A judge ordered Navarro held on $50,000 bail in the Bergen County Jail on a variety of charges.
"The officers involved all did an excellent job," O'Connor told Daily Voice. "They followed through and got results. We're still taking reports from other area residents who might have been victimized.
"We cannot emphasize this strongly enough: We need people to lock their cars. That will keep the burglars away. Please don't leave your car unlocked if you don't want to lose your valuables."