Burglars looking for homes to break into yesterday managed to pick the chief of police's house.
Toms River Police Chief Michael Mastronardy's home in Toms River was robbed yesterday evening, and the chief said the break-in was brief and that his home was one of several hit.
Mastronardy said he was not home at the time. He received a call after 6 p.m. yesterday while he was at the township council meeting, with the caller reporting suspicious activity at the chief's home.
The chief said he installed video surveillance cameras at his home on Swain Avenue just two weeks ago, and that the suspect was caught on camera. One individual was believed to have broken in through a window.
"They were there for about a minute," said Mastronardy. "I'm fine, everything's OK."
In the video released to the media, the video shows the suspect being dropped off in a dark car then walking up to the front door of the Swain Avenue home. He rings the doorbell, then walks to the rear of the house and forces open a rear window.
Mastronardy said the suspect was in the home for one minute before a family member came home. The suspect then exits the front door and is picked up by the suspect in the car waiting down the street.
In a phone call this afternoon, Mastronardy said he does not believe his home was targeted because he was the chief.
He said he thought surveillance cameras are a good idea for property owners to install, and mentioned Toms River has had a number of break-ins in the last couple months, and that further convinced him to have the cameras installed on his property recently.
Toms River Police are investigating five residential burglaries that occurred from noon to 6:15 p.m. Tuesday.
In addition to the chief’s Swain Avenue house, police believe the suspect targeted: a Fawn Drive home entered through the back door between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.; a Dickerson Road home ransacked between noon and 1 p.m.; a Hedge Street home entered between 1 and 2 p.m.; and a Central Avenue home where a screen was cut but no entry made, sometimes between noon and 4 p.m.
In all these burglaries cash, jewelry and prescription medicines were targeted by the suspects, said the chief in an email.
In a prepared statement, Captain Bruce Burgess, who is in charge of the investigation of these burglaries, said he is cautiously optimistic that the video will assist the Department in identifying the suspects, and that Toms River Police are constantly solving crimes by the use of the numerous video surveillance system being installed throughout the Township.
Investigating these burglaries are Detectives Chris Fluck, Mark Bajada, John Bajcic, Sergeant Dave McCallum and Officers Thomas Dimichele and George Fernicola along with Detectives from the Ocean County Sheriff’s Department and the Ocean County Prosecutors Office.