Man Drags Burning Mattresses Out Of Home, Cops Go Fishing for Shoplifter
This week's OMGs starts with a report of heroism
Often, the police-related news that catches our eye for Patch's weekly "OMGs from NJ PDs" is, well, a little silly. For instance, we tell you a lot about people who allegedly accidentally set the wrong houses on fire, who allegedly leave tracks in the snow leading to their homes after robberies, or who allegedly try to run over parking enforcement officers (which, by the way, will not get you out of a ticket).
But any cops-related news that stands out may make the cut—including acts of heroism.
Verona Patch reported on Feb. 22 that when Paul DeCaito heard his friend's mother screaming that her upstairs bedroom was on fire, he raced up the stairs and dragged a burning mattress and box spring into the yard with his bare hands.
DeCaito, a Belleville resident, suffered second-degree burns to his hands at the split-level home. His actions may have stopped the second-floor fire from spreading.
"I ran upstairs and she had been trying to put it out herself. The mattress was completely engulfed," DeCaito said standing outside the home in an undershirt, smudged with soot, his hands bubbling with large blisters.
"I'm just glad I was able to help the two women in the house," he said, nursing his badly-burned hands.
Our best wishes for a speedy recovery, Paul.
OK, now onto the headsmackers.
Each Monday, Patch takes a peek at some of the more surprising, shocking, stunning and occasionally silly police-related incidents reported throughout New Jersey for "OMGs from NJ PDs." Some of the other reports:
Fishing For a Shoplifter: A Passaic man allegedly stole nearly $300 of items from a Belleville grocery store, then attempted to escape by crossing Route 21 and heading into the Passaic River. Police were called to the FoodBasics store on Main Street on a report that a shoplifter was seen placing 22 cans of baby formula in his jacket and then pushed aside store security officers who had attempted to stop him at the door. After the man allegedly fled the store, three store employees chased him across the six lanes of Rt. 21 and then followed him to the banks of the adjacent river, into which the man had waded, police said. Belleville police arrived at the scene and reportedly saw the man standing in the water, about 10 feet from the bank. They also observed several cans of formula floating nearby. The man placed his hands in the air when he saw police and headed back toward the shore. The man, who was hospitalized, was charged with robbery.
Honk, Honk, I'm Drunk: Sometimes, the cops have to be really eagle-eyed to spot an alleged drunk driver. But sometimes, those who've been hitting the bottle too hard make it easy on the officers. On Feb. 17 in Garwood, police found a woman honking her horn in the municipal lot outside the police station, in a handicapped spot. The car's driver got out and approached an officer, displaying outward signs of being under the influence, police said. The driver submitted to a breath test, which showed .21 percent blood alcohol content—a little shy of three times the legal limit. She was issued several summons and released pending appearance in Municipal Court.
24 mph Faster Than Needed for Time Travel: Along the same lines: Sometimes, the cops have to be really eagle-eyed to spot a speeder. But even if they didn't have any radar gun or other mechanical assistance, we suspect they would have still noticed the Butler man accused of driving at 112 mph along Route 208 North in Franklin Lakes (a 55 mph road). He was eventually arrested with the help of Oakland and State Police. Oh, and like the honker, he was also charged with driving while intoxicated.
Future Doctors Should Know Those Pretzel-Stand Pretzels Aren't Any Good For You Anyway: Springfield and Clark police say they caught two New York men taking part in an oddball scheme—they were allegedly stealing medical books from area Barnes & Noble stores, then selling them from pretzel carts. Springfield police Detective Sgt. Judd Levenson summed it up best: "The actors (cop talk for 'the alleged bad guys') would set up their push carts by medical schools and nursing academies and would basically sell hot pretzels from one part of their cart and 'hot' books from the other part of the cart."
Did I Say Carjacking? Cranford police heard from a man who on Feb. 19 told them he'd been a victim of a carjacking. The man said someone forced him out of his vehicle, and then drove off with it. Unfortunate story—only Cranford police say the man made the whole thing up. They allege that in truth, the man crashed his own car on Route 78 in Newark, then fled the scene on foot. He was charged with falsely reporting the carjacking.
They're Not That Confusing: We get that out-of-staters have trouble with New Jersey's jughandles. They want to know what's wrong with a plain-old left turn. But a Garden State resident has no excuse for mishandling one—which may be why it seemed odd to Butler police when a Vernon man was traveling the wrong way on a jughandle. He reportedly almost hit another car. He was charged with (deep breath): driving under the influence, reckless driving, failing to possess insurance, failing to exhibit vehicle registration, failing to use directional, failing to exhibit driver’s license, improper turn, driving the wrong way on a one way street, improper traffic flow of marked lanes, operating a motor vehicle with an obstructed view and failing to make proper notification of change in address. It's that change in address charge that really stings, we're sure.