A quick-thinking 15-year-old girl hid inside her linen closet in her Nutley home while a man entered intending to rob the house.
Nutley Police confirmed that the girl was able to phone her mother in New York City shortly before she fled into the closet upon hearing the intruder.
“She told her mother she heard the intruder coming up the stairs and ended the call,” said Nutley Police Det. Montaneri said.
Montaneri said at 1:49 p.m. Monday, Nutley Police received a frantic call from a Nutley mother working in New York City, who said she was on the phone with her 15-year-old daughter, who was home alone with an intruder in the house.
Police reported that the robber opened the closet where the child was hiding, but never saw the young girl hiding under bed linens, before he rummaged through several rooms.
Nutley police dispatched several officers to the East Passaic Street home, after learning that the teen girl was hiding in a second floor linen closet.
Frightened by responding sirens, police said the intruder left the home, and set off a home security system, Montaneri said.
After the man fled, police got a description of him and arrested the man a block away – with the stolen items still in his possession.
Montaneri said Tuesday that police arrested and charged Ahme Serrano, 51 of Newark one block away from the scene after 2 p.m. Monday. The girl was unharmed. Serrano was charged with burglary and theft, and are working with Bloomfield police to investigate whether Serrano was involved with other burglaries.
Chief John Holland said that the young girl, “suffered a traumatic experience and was grateful the actor didn’t see her.”
Mayor Alphonse Petracco commended the actions of the police and credited them with the swift apprehension of Serrano.
“I am happy the young girl was unharmed,” Petracco said in a statement. “This burglary could have easily resulted in harm to the child.”
Serrano was being held on $50,000 bail.
Serrano had been released from prison three days before the robbery, according to Katherine Carter of the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office.