“On behalf of the Galaxy community, I want to thank the Guttenberg Police for their quick action,” says Frank Fittipoldi, director of project services for FirstService Residential, Galaxy’s management team.
Richard Medina, 50, confessed to stealing $50,000 in diamond jewelry by breaking into four penthouse apartments on the 43rd floor of Tower 1 around noon on Monday, March 9.
He was arrested at 11:15 a.m. on Tuesday, March 10.
Calling Medina a ‘career criminal’ dating back to the 80s, he also confessed to a previous burglary in Edgewater, says Sgt. Juan Barrera during a March 11 news conference in Tower 1.
According to police, the Guttenberg native is charged with burglary, criminal mischief and theft.
He has been incarcerated several times, but currently may be living in town with his mother.
“After he was interviewed, took us to where the high-end jewelry that was taken was at; we were able to retrieve 90 percent of the jewelry taken and give it back to its owner,” Barrera says.
Police are still investigating if anything else was taken from the three other penthouse residents.
It all started with Angie Granda, site supervisor for the Galaxy’s new security company AlliedBarton, viewing security footage when she spotted the suspect acting really suspicious.
“I saw him coming from the actual location into the elevator and he was really nervous and biting his nails,” Granda says, adding that he was pressing several buttons, not sure how to get to the lobby.
Officers say Granda’s quick thinking and sifting through hours of footage is just what they needed.
“Without her help, myself and Investigator (Joseph) Torello wouldn’t be able to get anywhere with this burglary — and that is one of the hardest crimes to solve,” says Police Officer Joseph Keslica.
Hardly any physical evidence was left at the scene.
“Leads us to believe that he was using gloves (and) the doors did have pry marks,” Torello says.
The news caused fear in the quiet Guttenberg neighborhood after Medina made his mark.
“This could have been a home invasion if somebody was home,” Barrera says. “Now almost 3,500 residents in these high-rises feel safer that this guy’s behind bars.”
In less than 24 hours, the Hudson County Probation Office provided intel on their guy.
“I’m amazed,” Keselica says. “In almost my 10 years I’ve never made an arrest that quick.”
The Galaxy is still trying to determine how Medina got in the building.
“There are three towers and many ways to enter the property,” Fittipoldi says. “While we have security, it’s not 100 percent guaranteed that we can screen every guest and every resident.”