EXCLUSIVE: New Milford police didn’t have to summon the SWAT team, as first thought, when they caught up to an accused burglar who ducked them and other police departments for nearly a month: He was swiftly snatched, cuffed and ushered out of the food court at the Garden State Plaza before anyone else knew what happened. Then Closter police got a call.
They were looking for 27-year-old Jeremy Buttigieg, who they said broke into a borough home and took a jar with from $300 to $400 while working a job for a Mahwah pool company at the house next door, CLIFFVIEW PILOT has learned.
An informant dropped the dime Thursday night on Buttigieg.
Soon after, New Milford Police Officer Kevin VanSaders and Detective Lt. Frank Ramaci were joined by Paramus Detective Sgt. Frank Scott and Detective John Damato at the mall.
Buttigieg, who bears the tattoo “Death Before Dishonor” in script on his chest, apparently “was boasting that he would not be taken easily and alluded to resisting arrest and police pursuits,” New Milford Police Chief Frank Papapietro said.
“Preliminary plans for his arrest [included] assistance from the Bergen County Police SWAT Team to execute a high-risk warrant operation if necessary,” the chief said.
The four officers split up, and Ramaci spotted Buttigieg a short time later. They had him outside the mall and into a radio car in seconds, Papapietro said.
“The officers involved executed a professional takedown [while] knowing that there was a likelihood of resistance,” the chief said. “They insured that the safety of innocent bystanders was not compromised.”
Buttigieg, who was being held in the Bergen County Jail on $75,000 bail ($50,000 from New Milford, $25,000 from Closter), could face additional charges elsewhere. Authorities in Maine have been looking for him, too.
Buttigieg was tied to the July 12 New Milford break-in through a match of fingerprints and a search of his apartment — where police found stolen jewelry and coins, as well as a loaded .25-caliber Berretta in a backyard storage shed, Papapietro told CLIFFVIEW PILOT.
He lives up the block from the break-in, the chief said.
Buttigieg was in the wind after posting $25,000 bail following his arrest for another burglary — this one in Bogota.