Police warn NJ residents after accused serial burglar released from jail — again
HOPATCONG — A man accused of committing burglaries in several towns — including one that allegedly happened days after he was arrested the first time — is out on the streets again and police are warning residents to beware.
The man, identified by the Hopatcong Police as 34-year-old Jason Major, is alleged to have taken items with a value of at least $20,000 from homes in Byram, Wayne, Pompton Lakes, Elmwood Park, and Morris Township.
In a Facebook post, the police said Major would reportedly wear a tri-color vest posing as a municipal public works employee, going door to door through various neighborhoods. If nobody was home, he would then enter and steal from the houses.
With the help of input from local residents and a combined investigation with officers from Byram, and Sparta townships, as well as the Sussex County Prosecutor's Office, Major was arrested on Friday night. At the time of his arrest he was also found with drug paraphernalia and the proceeds from several robberies still in his possession.
Major was taken to the Sussex County Jail on Saturday morning but was released a few hours later after a court hearing. The police said his freedom did not last long, as he was arrested again on Sunday in Morris Township for another burglary, and was released again after that as a result of the new bail reform laws.
The department is the latest law enforcement agency to draw critical attention to the criminal justice reforms, which were designed to keep potentially violent offenders from getting out on bail and to prevent defendants from remaining locked up before trial just because they can't afford their bail.
Gov. Chris Christie and state court officials have defended the new system, which was implemented last month.
According to state court officials, as of Feb. 4, 378 defendants have been held without bail under the new law. Before the start of the new year, all of them would have been eligible for bail, and could have been released if they could make their bail amounts. State court officials also said that of the 26,536 defendants who made bail last year, 3,097 of them, or 12 percent, committed an offense while out on bail.
The Hopatcong police said if Major is seen on a resident's property they should call 911.
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Contact reporter Adam Hochron at 609-359-5326 or Adam.Hochron@townsquaremedia.com