YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A manhunt followed by a TV helicopter ended when Bogota police grabbed two men connected to a six-month string of shoplifting incidents that stretch from Bergen County to the Bronx, Chief John C. Burke told CLIFFVIEW PILOT tonight.
Victor Valentine (l.), Nathan Mercado PHOTOS COURTESY Bogota Police Dept.
Teaneck police issued the alert this afternoon for a white van with New York license plates occupied by two men wanted in connection with several shoplifts, including one at the CVS Pharmacy on Cedar Lane, just down the street from Teaneck Road.
An employee at the store recognized them from the previous incident, and they took off right around 2:30 p.m.
Bogota Police Officer Hector Liriano was in his radio car when he spotted the van a few minutes later on River Road and Fort Lee Road.
He tried getting behind but couldn’t get close enough — but the driver apparently was aware of him and panicked. After bowling over a tree near a curb, the van smashed the front steps of a Second Street home in Ridgefield Park. Liriano pulled up behind, with his vehicle’s emergency lights on.
“They took off on foot. Then they hopped a couple of fences,” Detective Geoffrey Cole told CLIFFVIEW PILOT .
An “Eyewitness News” chopper from ABC Channel 7 was quickly on the scene:
By that time, Cole had arrived and grabbed one of the men, with help from CFX Railroad police.
Bergen County Police K-9 dogs were summoned and county Officer Kenneth Keenan and h
four-legged partner, Tracker, found the driver behind 136 Third Street in Ridgefield Park, Cole said.
Teaneck police charged the pair — identified as Victor Valentine and Nathan Mercado, both 26, of the Bronx — with shoplifting. Bogota police filed charges that include hindering apprehension, resisting arrest and obstruction of justice.
As of 10 p.m., they were awaiting transportation to the Bergen County Jail. NYPD was notified: Detectives expect to compare notes sometime this week.
“I am very proud of my officers,” Burke told CLIFFVIEW PILOT , noting that catching the pair was just the beginning of an investigation by detectives who have already drawn some important connections to the New York City crimes.
“They’re very sharp,” he said.
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