EXCLUSIVE: Two Wyckoff detectives didn’t have much to go on at first after a victim reported seeing a burglar who broke into her Nancy Lane home and snatched $3,000 worth of jewelry speed past her on a motorcycle. The vehicle, CLIFFVIEW PILOT has learned, belonged to a man already locked up for other crimes.
But they kept at it and were rewarded with the arrest of the owner’s brother, a 51-year-old career criminal dubbed the “motorcycle burglar.”
Lee A. Malsch was picked up this morning by members of the Passaic County Sheriff’s Department warrant squad and brought to Wyckoff, where he was charged with burglary and theft.
He was being held on $60,000 bail in the Bergen County Jail, with more charges likely facing him from other towns.
Officers at the scene of the July 26, 2011 break-in found latex gloves used in the burglary that were dropped or tossed away, as well as a crow bar left behind, Wyckoff Police Chief Benjamin Fox said.
They also found blood droplets — caused when the intruder broke a window — which produced a DNA match.
The only twist, it turned out, was that the motorcycle doesn’t belong to Malsch.
It’s his brother’s.
Lee and 49-year-old Todd Malsch have been in and out of jail and prison over the past 20 or so years for crimes in three different counties and more than a dozen different towns, with arrests for drugs, wrongful impersonation, resisting arrest and other offenses, records show.
They’ve interchangably used aliases, including each other’s names, as well as Michael Mindillo and Michael Mendillo. They also apparently shared the motorcycle.
Todd Malsch is currently serving a 3-year sentence after being sent to prison in March in connection with drug and stolen property convictions out of Morris County.
Ten years ago, he was the getaway driver while another man shattered the window of a Route 23 Dollar World store in Wayne and snatched a cash register.
Police grabbed the younger Malsch but the other man — believed to be Lee — took off with one of the registers.
This time, Detective Sgts. Joseph Soto and Michael Musto contacted other agencies who had the elder Malsch on their radar and eventually accumulated enough evidence to obtain an arrest warrant 10 days ago.
The investigators spent quite a bit of time in Paterson looking for Malsch, with no luck.
But they got some help from Passaic County Sheriff’s officers who tracked him down overnight.
“Burglaries can be difficult to solve,” Fox said earlier today. “All too often there simply is not much evidence to work from.”
In this case, the chief said, Soto and Musto “took the evidence that they had” and “through a lot of good, extensive police work” tied Malsch directly to the break-in.
“My guys don’t solve every crime. No department does,” Fox said. “But when they have evidence to work with, they do everything that they can to apprehend those responsible.”