HIGHLAND PARK — A New Brunswick man was arrested Wednesday and charged with smashing storefront windows of five businesses on Raritan Avenue in Highland Park, Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce J. Kaplan and Highland Park Police Chief Stephen J. Rizco announced.
Richard M. Green, 52, was arrested on George Street in New Brunswick at 3 p.m. and was subsequently charged with five counts of criminal mischief, a fourth degree offense.
An intensive investigation by Detective John Sachau and Detective Nicole Young, both of the Highland Park Police Department, and Investigator Sue Kowlaski of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, alleges that Green shattered the windows of the five businesses early Wednesday morning.
The preliminary investigation determined that the shops that were targeted are Jewish businesses that trade in such items as clothing, food and religious items, and are owned by Jewish merchants.
The on-going investigation is seeking to determine if Green is responsible for other acts of criminal mischief that have occurred in the past several days.
Upon completion of the investigation, a decision will be made on whether Green will be charged with other incidents, and whether the criminal mischief counts will be upgraded to a bias crime, authorities said.
Police in Highland Park began their investigation after an officer on patrol noticed windows of several shops had been smashed. Business owners began calling police as they arrived at their stores this morning.
The investigation determined that various objects were thrown at the windows to break them. No graffiti or offensive slogans or symbols were placed on the storefronts.
The shops were closed at the time and there were no injuries. The cost of the damage was not immediately available.
Police distributed fliers to the community today advising residents to remain calm and assured them that an intensive investigation had been launched.
“All of our officers are aware of the sensitivity of this situation and we will make every effort with patrols and surveillance to keep everyone safe,” Rizco said.
Officials are asking anyone with information to call the Highland Park Police Detective Bureau at 1-732-572-3800, or the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office at 1-732-745-3300.
As is the case with all criminal defendants, the charges against Green are merely accusations and he is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
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