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Retired lieutenant stops car theft

In a heroic feat, a retired NYPD lieutenant successfully thwarted the burglary of a G.P.S. system from his neighbor’s car. In doing so, he captured a thief who may be making a living breaking into cars.

Peter Enea was awakened on the morning of Friday, May 22 by his neighbor, who saw someone breaking into his Jeep Patriot. The Narragansett Avenue resident said that the neighbor, retired police lieutenant Anthony Amelio, chased the criminal. The thief had broken into the car at about 4:30 a.m. Amelio happened to be up early, seeing his son off on a trip.

Amelio’s wife called 911, and while she was on the phone with emergency personnel, he chased the thief down Narragansett Avenue onto Lakewood Avenue, finally catching up to him on Tenbroeck Avenue.

“I saw him bending down over the front seat, and the light was on,” Amelio said. “I had a police identification that says I am retired hanging from my neck. I walked out of my house and I looked around and I approached the vehicle. I gave two commands: ‘Police. Don’t move.’”

Despite Amelio’s warning, the suspect fled on foot. Amelio was able to capture the man, and police from the 49th Precinct arrived quickly.

“As soon as the patrol car pulled up, one of the officers recognized me immediately,” Amelio said. “My wife described me to the 911 operators, so they knew that I was not a suspect. The cops did a very good job with the response because the call originally came over their radio as being on Narragansett Avenue. They came and they cuffed him and placed him under arrest.”

The suspect, Napoleon Cirera, 40, was charged with possession of burglar’s tools, petty larceny, criminal possession of stolen property, and auto stripping, according to a complaint report. The report also states that inside the black backpack that he was carrying was a J-shaped hammer, specially designed to break car windows. There was also a Motorola G.P.S. in his bag.

Amelio said that he was just glad to help his neighbor out, because many G.P.S. systems had been stolen out of cars near his home.

“It happens a lot in Indian Village because people have nice cars and it is a quiet area,” Amelio stated. “I had a tire stolen from one of my cars last year. It is a quality of life issue. You don’t want to come out of your home and find that someone has broken into your vehicle.”

Captain Kevin Nicholson of the 49th Precinct said that he has noticed a rise in theft from cars. The public should not leave anything that they consider valuable in their cars, because it is an invitation for thieves.

“This guy has been rummaging through cars, and now he has finally been caught,” Enea said.

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