WYCKOFF — Not even two weeks after Gov. Phil Murphy signed a measure into law codifying the theft of delivered packages as a third-degree crime, township police surveilled and arrested a suspect attempting to commit what had previously been only a misdemeanor offense in New Jersey.

A release from the Wyckoff Police Department said on Jan. 28, a resident contacted them to report that a suspicious male had entered her backyard. When she confronted him, she told police, he entered a vehicle and fled.

The resident said she had previously received several packages at her address that she had not ordered and placed them in her garage, according to police.

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Wyckoff police suspected that the male in question was specifically looking for the items left at the woman's home, and set up surveillance to wait for his return.

Later that day as an officer was stationed nearby, a vehicle entered the driveway of the home, resulting in the arrest of Luichy Merejodejesus, 33, of Hasbrouck Heights.

As stated in the release, Merejodejesus was charged with third-degree criminal attempt to commit theft under the "Defense Against Porch Pirates Act," which had just been signed by Murphy on Jan. 18.

Although Assemblyman Robert Karabinchak, one of the bill's sponsors, said in a statement at the time that a majority of stolen packages are valued at less than $500, the new law and designation of a third-degree crime apply to stolen items of any value.

Police did not disclose what was contained within the packages left at the home.

Following his arrest, Merejodejesus was released from custody pending a court appearance.

Under the new statute, "porch pirating" in the Garden State is punishable by 3 to 5 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $15,000.

With previous reporting by Erin Vogt.

Patrick Lavery is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at patrick.lavery@townsquaremedia.com

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