TENAFLY, N.J. -- An on-the-ball Tenafly resident alerted police to an out-of-state trio who they said were casing a neighborhood for burglary targets.
"Protecting our community is a team effort, and we applaud and appreciate the efforts of citizens like this who are working with us to help keep everyone safe," said Capt. Michael deMoncada.
Investigators believe the trio committed burglaries in and around the area -- and were about to do it again -- when the Ridge Road resident called them Wednesday morning.
Moments earlier, two of the suspects rang the doorbell and then claimed they were there to pick up furniture.
Told they had the wrong address, the pair got into a small black sedan -- hardly appropriate for moving furniture, deMoncada said.
Thanks to the resident's description of them and the car, responding officers stopped both men and a female passenger in a black Honda Civic, he said.
"The occupants provided different stories to our officers regarding their whereabouts, and could not provide a good description of where they were supposed to pick up any furniture," the captain said.
Officers found them carrying a small amount of marijuana, as well as a small crowbar and several pairs of gloves – tools commonly used to commit burglaries.
Charged with conspiracy and possession of burglary tools were Fidencio Abreu, 26, and Wanda Santana, 25, both of Yonkers, and 20-year-old Franklin Mateo of New York City.
Abreu also was charged with having the pot and drug paraphernalia.
He and Mateo were being held on $30,000 bail each in the Bergen County Jail. Santana was released after being served with a summons.
deMoncada commended the resident who called for "seeing something out of the ordinary and then immediately contacting our department to investigate.
"Burglars will often ring doorbells in an attempt to determine whether or not a home is occupied before they break in," he said. "If someone answers the door, they tell the person that they are lost, or looking for a different address, or that they were there to do some type of work like 'pick up furniture.'
"This particular witness had the common sense to know that something wasn’t right after hearing their story.
"We are confident that this group would have been committing burglaries in our town if it weren’t for this resident calling us to describe what had happened," the captain said.
Anyone with further information that could help the invesigation is asked to call Tenafly detectives (201) 568-5100 .