Henry Alvarez and three other Atlantic City teens were charged for a string of car thefts in Stafford Township last month. The teens, most of whom were unnamed because of their age, were charged with a range of offenses including third-degree theft, burglary, and conspiracy to commit those offenses, the Stafford Township Police Department said in a statement.
The Stafford Township Detective Bureau charged Henry Alvarez and his three friends – who all ranged in ages from 14 to 16 years old – with the motor vehicle thefts on Wednesday. The thefts occurred on July 24 and July 28 this year. The teens face 91 total charges.
Atlantic City resident Henry Alvarez faces 13 charges for the string of burglaries and thefts on July 24, including third-degree theft, third-degree burglary, and conspiracy and criminal attempts to commit the crimes. His friend, a 15-year-old from Monroe Avenue in Atlantic City, received the same 13 charges for the thefts on July 24.
Henry Alvarez and his 15-year-old friend were also charged with their connection to a string of burglaries and thefts on July 28. Two other teens, a 16-year-old from Hamilton Avenue in Atlantic City and a 14-year-old from Brooklyn Avenue in Atlantic City were also charged in connection with the July 28 crime spree.
The Stafford Township Police Department issued a statement on their Facebook page Wednesday, saying that “we would like to thank members from the Barnegat Township Police Department, the Atlantic City Police Department, and the Hammonton Township Police Department for their assistance with this investigation.”
The police department said that it “does not release photos of arrested subjects, and the public and the press are reminded that all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.”
After the string of car thefts and burglaries in July, the Stafford Township Police Department launched a social media campaign titled #9PMRoutine, warning residents and guests that the suspects are on the loose. The department urged all vehicle owners to lock their cars at 9:00 p.m. each night and to remove all valuables from inside them including wallets, keys, and electronics.
In one video posted to the department’s Facebook page, Chief Thomas Dellane told residents that “over the past few months we’ve been experiencing an explosion in motor vehicle thefts and a drastic increase in theft from unlocked vehicles.” The chief reminded owners of newer vehicles not to leave their key fobs inside their vehicles as this allows culprits to open the door without detection.
The chief continued, explaining that there have been six motor vehicles stolen in Stafford Township in the past three months. He also added that there were 25 unlocked cars stolen in Stafford, Barnegat, and Long Beach Island. Dellane did point out that most of the thefts involved vehicles that were accidentally unlocked and not instances where the culprits were forcibly breaking into those cars.
The chief previously faced backlash for his methods to curb car thefts in the area. In an August 11 statement, Chief Dellane said he had instructed officers to check high-end cars. If the vehicle was left unlocked, officers would be knocking on residents’ doors to inform them that their vehicle was susceptible. The move garnered severe backlash from residents though officers defended the order.
It’s unclear if Henry Alvarez and his teenage friends were the cause of all six vehicle thefts in Stafford Township or if other suspects are still on the loose. The four teens were still in custody as of Wednesday afternoon. Bail has not been set.