PATERSON, N.J. -- A frantic mother desperately tried to hold onto the steering wheel as a Paterson carjacker drove off with her three children -- ages 2, 4 and 5 -- in the back seat Friday morning, authorities said.
A little over 90 minutes later, the youngsters were reunited with their mother and the accused carjacker was arrested by Paramus police on a parking deck at the Garden State Plaza.
Ex-con Frank Saggese, 43, of East Hanover took the car from the horrified mother in the Wendy's parking lot on Broadway just after 8 a.m., Paterson Police Director Jerry Speziale told Daily Voice.
Followed by a good Samaritan, Saggese drove a mile and a half into Hawthorne before letting the children out about 15 minutes later, he said.
Saggese kept going and left the car near a 7-Eleven on Wargaraw Road, where, Speziale said, he "jumped into another vehicle that was unoccupied in the parking lot."
Hawthorne police found the youngsters uninjured.
They were soon reunited with their mother at St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center, where she was being treated for her injuries, Speziale said.
A LoJack device on the second car -- a white Acura hatchback that belongs to a Prospect Park resident -- pointed pursuing police toward Paramus.
Around 10 a.m., a security guard at the Garden State Plaza spotted it on a mall parking deck.
Detective Lt. Frank Scott, who was with Deputy Police Chief Robert Guidetti, rolled up to the car and found Saggese behind the wheel. They took him into custody without incident.
"He looked like he was trying to hide," one officer told Daily Voice. "He was just sitting there."
Saggese, who was turned over to Paterson authorities, has a history of drug-related arrests dating back nearly two decades for crimes that include burglary, shoplifting and auto theft, records show.
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