"Mr. Franco was arrested without incident on Bloomfield Avenue with the assistance of a Retired Caldwell Police Lieutenant who observed him operating his dirt bike recklessly and recognized him from a previous release by the Caldwell Police Department. " ~ Caldwell Poice Chief James H. Bongiorno
Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021
This afternoon, Caldwell Police Department Chief James H. Bongiorno announced Steven Franco, 18 of Caldwell has been arrested and charged in connection to dirt bike incidents that took place around West Essex during Thanksgiving.
Police seek to identify the second rider who even yesterday drove erratically at a high rate of speed on Bloomfield Avenue past Franco as he was being arrested, while children were walking home from school.
THURSDAY, NOV. 25, 2021
Early Thanksgiving morning, Caldwell Police attempted to pull over a rider on a dirt bike driving east on Bloomfield Avenue near Arlington Avenue. The rider ignored patrol and continued east past University Drive.
- The rider then turned the bike around and drove at a high rate of speed up Bloomfield Avenue out of the sight of the police.
A patrol officer reported a dirt biker on Roseland Avenue turning onto Eagle Rock Avenue who did a wheelie as they passed the patrol car.
The following incident may be connected:
- West Caldwell Police responded after callers near Washington School reported a large group of unsupervised juveniles who were yelling and throwing things.
- At 2:20 am, West Caldwell Police advised the juveniles that they were disturbing the neighborhood
Thanksgiving Day afternoon during the middle of holiday travel congestion, Caldwell Police, Fairfield Police, and West Caldwell Police began monitoring two teens riding in and out of traffic on Route 46 and Bloomfield Avenue and intentionally driving the wrong way into oncoming traffic.
- West Caldwell Police reported that the "same two kids from Wednesday night" were traveling at a high rate of speed on dirt bikes in the west lane of Bloomfield Avenue, West Caldwell.
Police described the dirt bikers as:
- two male kids
- wearing camouflage-patterned facemasks
- possibly Hispanic or African American
- After passing the Toyota Dealership and approaching the Ford Dealership, the two kids continued traveling west but in the eastbound lane of Bloomfield Avenue into oncoming traffic
- The one rider went off towards Montville and ended up traveling west in the eastbound lane of Route 46.
Police followed the second male as he traveled on Clinton Road traveling into West Caldwell
- From Clinton Road, the rider turned onto Bloomfield Avenue traveling east in the westbound lane at a high rate of speed.
- Both dirt bike riders were reported by Caldwell Police traveling eastbound in the westbound lane of Bloomfield Avenue into oncoming traffic.
WEDNESDAY, DEC. 1, 2021
Yesterday afternoon, a Caldwell patrol officer located two dirt bike riders on Thomas Street driving towards Westville Avenue.
- The riders were seen on Academy Road.
Caldwell Police stopped Steven Franco and took him into custody on Bloomfield Avenue near Gould Place.
- Police impounded the dirt bike.
While Franco was being arrested, the second rider drove past him at a high rate of speed and turned onto Park Avenue.
Police described the second dirt biker as:
- male with light skin
- wearing a black jacket with a furry hood
- driving a red dirt bike
The second rider was seen driving erratically at a high rate of speed on Bloomfield Avenue towards Roseland Avenue.
- The rider drove down Roseland Avenue past Essex Fells Police Station, towards Roseland
Steven Franco, 18, of Caldwell, has been charged with the following:
- Careless Driving
- Disorderly Conduct
- Eluding a Police Officer with a Motor Vehicle
- Maintaining a Nuisance
- Reckless Driving
- along with other motor vehicle summonses
ACTIVE INVESTIGATION: CONTACT POLICE
This investigation remains ongoing. Anyone with information should contact Detective Sergeant Andrew Apicella and Detective William Roberts:
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