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Crime Stoppers offering reward in ‘swatting’ call to Bergenfield cleaners

Photo Credit: Ron Bombaro
Photo Credit: Ron Bombaro
Photo Credit: Ron Bombaro

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Crime Stoppers of Bergenfield / Hackensack / Englewood / Teaneck is offering a reward for information leading the arrest of whomever is responsible for calling in a “swatting” hoax that brought a SWAT team, a hostage negotiator and other law enforcement personnel to a Bergenfield cleaners last night.

CALL: 1-844-466-6789 (You can remain anonymous)

Police rushed to Hollywood Cleaners on New Bridge Road after a caller at 11:52 p.m. said “he was inside the business and would shoot himself and two persons with him and anyone who would come near the building,” Capt. Cathy Madalone said this morning.

“The caller also indicated he had bombs strapped to the hostages,” she added.

“Based on the information provided involving weapons and explosives, the call was handled as a barricaded subject incident,” Madalone said. “Officers formed a secure perimeter around the business and additional resources were requested” for regional SWAT, bomb and crisis intervention units from the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office.

“The SWAT team made entry into the building at 12:56 a.m. and conducted a thorough search of the premises for the caller and victims, with negative results,” the captain said.

“At 2:34 a.m., the SWAT team deemed the building to be safe and all resources secured from the scene.”

In “swatting,” hackers fool emergency responders into deploying SWAT teams to unsuspecting victims’ homes and businesses.

* * * * * *

PHOTO: Ron Bombaro

WHAT WE THINK: Prank calls are as old as telephones. But as unchecked tech runs wild, and the tense, dramatic nature of rescues gets replayed over and again on screens everywhere, we’re seeing more remote calls triggering needless — and potentially dangerous — responses. READ MORE….

* * * * * *

Earlier this month, a caller told police he’d stabbed his girlfriend, barricaded himself inside a Cliffside Park home and would kill her and other family members if anyone tried to take him into custody. A SWAT team was being brought in as unwitting family members emerged.

Late last month, SWAT team members, police and other emergency responders descended on a video game store in a Clifton shopping complex for a purported hostage-taking that also turned out to be a “swatting” hoax.

“The seriousness and danger that exists by making a false report puts not only citizens but multiple emergency personnel responding to the call at risk of death or serious injury,” Madalone said this morning. “This is a public safety issue and innocent people are put at risk.”

Detectives were pursuing several leads and authorities will prosecute those responsible “to the full extent of the law,” she said.

Bergenfield Police were assisted at the scene by the Bergenfield Volunteer Fire Department and Bergenfield Volunteer Ambulance Corp.

NOTE: Made up of civilian volunteers, Crime Stoppers is a community-based program that brings the public, the media and the police together in a cooperative effort to help solve crime. A police detective from each of the respective communities presents the Crime Stoppers board with information obtained from citizens that resulted in the arrest of an offender, and the board provides the award.

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