They Stole a Police Chief’s Gun, Badge, Car — $500 Reward Offered
WATCHUNG — Authorities are offering a $500 reward for information leading to the capture of two crooks who burglarized a chief of police's home, taking his guns, uniform, badge and personal car.
The heist at North Plainfield Police Chief William Parenti's home in Watchung was first reported two weeks ago by the Townsquare News Network.
While the North Plainfield and Watchung departments put out messages on social media seeking information on suspects wanted in connection to an unspecified burglary, neither agency identified the burglarized home as Parenti's. Neither agency alerted the public that an officer's uniform, badge and gun had been stolen. Parenti confirmed the thefts after New Jersey 101.5 reached out to him seeking comment.
On Wednesday, Somerset County Prosecutor Michael H. Robertson announced that Somerset County Crime Stoppers Inc. is offering a reward of up to $500.
Robertson's statement says that on Jan. 24 two safes containing jewelry, electronics, guns, and law enforcement badges were taken from the home. Robertson said uniforms were also taken in addition to a 2005 Mercedes that had been parked in the home's garage.
Parenti confirmed to New Jersey 101.5 that his service weapon had been among the guns stolen.
"Anytime firearms are taken from a home, police or not, it's a grave concern," he said at the time. "The fact that they also took my badge and some other stuff, hopefully they don't try to impersonate a police officer or sell it to someone who does."
Watchung police confirmed last month to New Jersey 101.5 that a home on Johnston Drive — where Parenti lives — was hit on the morning of Jan. 24, but said they were awaiting an accounting from the homeowner on what was taken. They denied a public records request seeking incident reports about the burglary, citing an ongoing investigation. Robertson's statement does not identify Parenti, but does coincide with the street and date of the burglary, as well as the items Parenti said were stolen.
The Mercedes was found later that day in Irvington, according to Robertson. Initial reports said the car had been found on fire in Irvington. The prosecutor said the investigation is ongoing, but it is believed the person or people involved gave the appearance of being either a delivery person or a door-to-door salesman. Robertson said after unsuccessfully entering the home through the front door, the men went to the back of the house and got in through a window.
The men were seen on home surveillance cameras, Robertson said. They are described as black men wearing dark colored jackets and hoods. He said they are seen in the surveillance footage wearing dark colored ski hats and royal blue lanyards with white identification cards.
Anyone with information about the burglary is asked to call the Crime Stoppers Tip Line at 1-888-577-TIPS or submit information on the Crime Stopper's website. Information submitted to the Crime Stoppers can be done anonymously.