Watch CBS News

Suspects Sought In NJ Church Vandalism Caught On Tape

MADISON, N.J. (CBS 2) -- Suspects remain on the loose in vandalism at a New Jersey Catholic center that was caught on surveillance camera, which enabled police to identify the suspects.

If you're going to do something illegal, you shouldn't do it on camera, but that's just what happened at a Catholic center in Madison.

"I don't know if you'd necessarily call it kid stuff, but a senseless act of vandalism," Madison Police Detective Paul Kosakowski said.

The vandalism occurred at an evangelical center called St. Paul Within the Walls, operated by the diocese of Paterson and dedicated just a month ago on the site of a former high school.

Five men caught on surveillance camera doing damage. The broke lights, took down signs, tried to knock down a mailbox, carried off planters, and threw a mailbox into a church truck.

Unfortunately for them, their vehicle was also caught on camera: a 2008 Dodge Avenger. The vandals were apparently unaware that video cameras recorded them – not just during the vandalism, but also when they were stopped by a police officer earlier that morning.

Police say two of the men had been seen sleeping in a car. A third man had a marijuana pipe, for which he was ticketed and released, as the patrol car camera recorded the same guys who later vandalized St. Paul's.

"We believe they're all from Connecticut. Three are from Connecticut, the other two we're still working on," Det. Kosakowski said.

Police say the five men, who were visiting a friend at Fairleigh Dickenson Universtiy, did $2,000 damage to lights, signs and the truck. The priest who runs the Catholic center has a feeling of forgiveness.

"But forgiveness doesn't mean people don't have to pay a price," Reverend Geno Sylva said. "There's a consequence for our actions as well."

So far, police don't have a motive.

Investigators have contacted police in Ellington and Rockey Hill, Connecticut, asking them to serve arrest warrants for the men. They each face $10,000 bail.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.