CLIFFVIEW PILOT SCOOP: A search ended this morning for a 22-year-old high-end car thief charged with swiping a $71,000 Mercedes Benz from a Westwood leasing company by swapping key fobs and unsuccessfully trying the same move in Tenafly.
Michael Quezada (MUGSHOT: Courtesy Westwood PD)
Michael Quezada of North Bergen was arrested this morning by police in the Mercer County town of East Windsor in connection with the theft of an Ford F350 truck. They immediately issued an alert noticed by officers in several other departments statewide.
Staff at a Westwood leasing company have already identified Quezada as one of two men who came to their Old Hook Road lot just before closing on Dec. 5 and asked to look at the 2010 Mercedes GL550.
The salesperson showed them the car and started it up, Westwood police said. As he revved the engine, the pair walked around the car, then went back inside.
They provided bogus identification and cell numbers, police said. Then, when no one was looking, they swapped the key fob with one of their own.
Around 12:30 the next morning, the pair returned to the lot and tried to cut the lock off a chain-link fence. That failed, so they returned later with a bolt cutter and drove off with the Mercedes, according to the news release.
Quezada later tried the same move at a lot in Tenafly, police said. The fobs had already been swapped when a salesperson there who also worked at the Westwood lot recognized him and immediately dialed police.
Seeing this, the thief took off.
Detectives in both towns obtained arrest warrants — with $40,000 bail set by a Municipal Court judge on the Westwood warrant and $42,500 on the one out of Tenafly.
Westwood police also sent surveillance video from both sites to fellow departments throughout the state.
Woodbridge police helped point to Quezada, according to the news release.
East Windsor police this morning arrested Quezada at an apartment in Perth Amboy where he had been staying. He’d been identified in another vehicle theft from a car dealership in their town, Westwood police said.
Quezada was being held on $20,000 bail this afternoon in East Windsor, with detainers on him from Westwood and Tenafly.
Originally from 27th Street in North Bergen, Quezada was put on probation Jan. 10 for a conspiracy conviction after spending 180 days in the Middlesex County Jail. Three years ago, he was convicted of eluding Dumont police in a stolen car.
A similar theft of an Acura in Totowa last year led to other charges.
Detectives don’t believe the vehicles are being shipped out of the country. For one thing, the Totowa Acura was recovered in Woodbridge. The other vehicles haven’t turned up yet.
It’s likely that the thief is “filling orders” locally, a police source told CLIFFVIEW PILOT .
Anyone with information about any of the thefts is asked to call Westwood Police Chief Frank Regino at 201.664.7000 . Or: firstname.lastname@example.org
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