Catalytic Converter Thieves Arrested on Independence Day

Fairfield (NJ) The Fairfield Police Department announce the arrest of Juan Garcia Guzman (52) and Christian Candelaria-Hernandez, both of the Bronx, N.Y., on multiple charges relating to the thefts of catalytic converters on July 4, 2021.

On that date, at approximately 10:34 PM, Sergeant Brian Sabatelli was on patrol on Hollywood Avenue when he observed a 2007 black Ford Econoline van pass him. Sgt. Sabatelli immediately recognized this vehicle as matching the description of a vehicle wanted in connection with past thefts of catalytic converters in Fairfield. It is alleged that the suspect vehicle entered onto Route 46 West and the officer eventually re-located the van and stopped it near #277 Route 46 West. It is alleged the vehicle was bearing a stolen New Jersey license plate taken from Edison, N.J.

As the officer approached the vehicle, it was found to be operated by Guzman. At this point, Guzman was handcuffed for officer safety. As the officer next attempted to get the passenger, Candelaria-Hernandez out of the van from the passenger side, he allegedly exited the van from the driver side door and ran across Route 46 towards the Horseneck Road overpass. Responding officers immediately began looking for the suspect.

A formal search for Candelaria-Hernandez was then undertaken with the assistance of officers from Fairfield, North Caldwell, West Caldwell, North Caldwell, and Montville. Also assisting was a K-9 unit from the Morris County Sheriff’s Department and the Fairfield Police Department Drone Unit.

About an hour or so later, North Caldwell officers stopped a vehicle on Just Road occupied by a female and a 9-year-old claiming to be looking for a hotel. After a brief investigation, it is alleged that this was the girlfriend of Candelaria-Hernandez who had contacted by him and told to come and pick him up at 19 Just Road. Officers responded to that location, and it is alleged that they spotted Candelaria-Hernandez and he once again ran from them into

the woods and onto the property of the Essex County Airport. He eventually surrendered to police at that location.

It is alleged that found inside of the Ford van, were 20 cut catalytic converters, and a variety of burglar tools associated with catalytic converter thefts. The suspects and vehicle were transported to police headquarters for processing.

Further investigation revealed that these same individuals are allegedly responsible for nine catalytic converter thefts that occurred in Fairfield on June 27, 2021, at Northeast Energy Conservation (18 Industrial Road), College Hunks Hauling Junk and Elegant Affairs (1275 Bloomfield Avenue) and Benco (10 Madison Road)

Both suspects were charged with (9) counts of theft, (20) counts of receiving stolen property, possession of burglar tools and conspiracy to commit theft. In addition, Candelaria-Hernandez was also charged with resisting arrest.

Both suspects were eventually released on their own recognizance pursuant to New Jersey Bail Reform provisions and pending an initial hearing in the Superior Court on August 5, 2021.

“These individuals would have continued to prey upon our industrial community had it not been for two things; Fairfield’s automated license plate reader system which once again helped to immediately identify a suspect vehicle back on June 27th and old-fashioned patrol work by Sergeant Sabatelli who knew what to look for and finding it” said Chief Anthony G. Manna. “I strongly commend him for bringing this rash of thefts to a successful conclusion,” said the chief.

(It should be noted that the charges against both are merely allegations and that both are presumed innocent until they either plead guilty or are found guilty in a court of law)

Authorized by: Chief Anthony Manna

Suspect 1- Christian Candelario-Hernandez

Suspect 2- Juan Garcia-Guzman

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