The iMAC computer was one used for personal designs. The owner has a design business and used the computer for the business.
"He said his entire world was in that computer," Fulcher said.
Fulcher said that it was a combination of good detective work and help from two different Internet providers that enabled them to make the two arrests and return the computer to its rightful owner last Saturday, Sept. 1.
Weehawken police arrested a 17-year-old Union City resident and charged him with burglary and theft of a $3,500 iMAC personal computer that was taken from a Hauxhurst Avenue residence in June.
According to Deputy Police Chief Jeffrey Fulcher, police also arrested the 32-year-old Union City resident who had the computer in his possession, allegedly purchasing the computer from the teenaged thief.
Apparently, this computer was fitted with a tracking device, much like a Lojack system is for stolen cars. So once the new owner used the stolen computer, a trace could begin.
"The tracking device led us to a man in Union City," Fulcher said.
The alleged owner of the computer said that he purchased it from a neighborhood teenager for $160.
"We realized that he was not the burglar," Fulcher said. "But he had the computer in his possession. He thought he was getting a bargain, getting a $3,000 computer for $160. He never thought that the computer could be tracked."
The man, Manuel Acosta from Union City, was charged with possession of stolen property.
Yet Acosta also cooperated and provided Weehawken police with a description of the alleged thief and was later released on $1000 bail.
"We used that information to identify the juvenile, who was known to us," Fulcher said.
Fulcher said that the alleged juvenile thief had a prior arrest record in Weehawken as well as in Union City for similar burglaries.
"We believe this kid is well-known throughout Hudson County for similar crimes," Fulcher said.
Weehawken police went to the home of the alleged thief Aug. 31 and arrested the 17-year-old, charging him with burglary and theft. Because he is still a juvenile, the alleged thief was released to the custody of his father, pending a hearing in juvenile court at a later date.
Technology aids police
Fulcher said that the computer tracking system was the key to solving the case.
"Arrests like this are becoming more and more frequent thanks to the technology," Fulcher said. "We all use different resources when it comes to solving crime and crime prevention. Sure, old-fashioned detective work is always a way to do it, but sometimes, using the most modern tools available can be a plus." Fulcher credited the help the Weehawken police received from the computer manufacturer and the Internet provider services.
"It was invaluable," Fulcher said. "Their assistance helped us solve the case. In cases like this, stolen goods are no longer written off as gone and never seen again. We're going to pursue every avenue to insure the victims get their personal items back."
Fulcher said that there is a happy ending to the story.
"The computer was returned to the victim on the same day he was ordering a replacement," Fulcher said. "So we were able to save him the expense of buying a new computer."
Fulcher said that the computer was returned to the owner with all the original files still in tact.
"All his software records and data were still in the computer," Fulcher said. "We hope that thefts like this are solved more and more frequently now with the technology assistance we received."
Jim Hague can be reached via e-mail at either OGSMAR@aol.com or firstname.lastname@example.org