Minors Suspected of Arson, Burglary at Ridge Road Condo Complex
Four juveniles allegedly stole items from storage units and a garage, and set a basement fire Wednesday evening, police say
Four minors could face arson and burglary charges following a small fire that broke out in the basement of a Hawthorne Lane condominium Wednesday evening, according to township police.
The four juveniles are believed to have started the fire using “paper towel rolls as an ignition source” at approximately 6:40 p.m. on Wednesday, according to Mahwah Police Chief James Batelli. The Mahwah Fire Department quickly extinguished the fire, which resulted only in a lot of smoke, authorities said.
Local residents also reported break–ins at two storage units and a garage in close proximity to the basement fire, Batelli said. Bicycles and other personal belongings were allegedly stolen from the units and garage, he said.
Mahwah Police Officers Sean Hayes and Ryan Hill located the suspects walking through a wooded area near Pepperidge Road and Sycamore Lane after residents provided descriptions of the four youths, Batelli said. Bergen County K-9 units also responded to the scene to help locate the suspects.
Mahwah Detective Guido Businelli is continuing interviews and questioning the four juveniles believed to be involved, as well as their parents, Batelli said. At least one of the families has obtained legal counsel and is no longer cooperating with police, he said.
Mahwah Arson Investigator Officer Michael Blondin is also investigating, Batelli said.
Police expect to press charges for a “variety of serious offenses” against the four minors, Batelli said. “The attempted arson of an occupied dwelling is [an] extremely serious offense considering the potential for personal injury that could have occurred if the fire had spread throughout the unit.”
Batelli credited the “quick action of the fire department for containing and extinguishing the fire” and the “quick action of the police officers for locating area juveniles and obtaining information that led to the identification of those involved."