Three men were arrested on burglary charges last night after an alert South Brunswick Police officer interrupted a break-in at a closed township restaurant.
Christian Cortes, 33 of Pemberton; Richard Wilson, 39, of Ewing; and Israel Cortes, 35, of Ewing were charged with burglary, theft and possession of burglary tools following their capture after the three fled the scene of the Route 130 burglary, according to police.
Officer Mike Leung was on patrol at 10:15 p.m. Sunday evening on Route 130. Leung was driving by the former Big Ed's Restaurant, located at 2316 Route 130, when he observed a vehicle parked behind the building and partially hidden from view, according to police.
After pulling into the parking lot, Leung then observed two additional vehicles behind the business, police said. Sgt. Lenny Hibbitts and Officer Ken Herman soon arrived to back up Leung.
The three officers discovered an open door to the business and they began to search the building's basement. At that point, three suspects took off running, according to police.
An officer who was outside the building immediately captured one of the fleeing suspects, later identified as Christian Cortes. The search for the remaining suspects then began, as additional police officers from South Brunswick and Cranbury, in addition to two K-9 units from the New Jersey State Police, soon responded to help in the search.
About one hour later, Wilson was arrested near the Travelers Inn motel, police said. The third suspect was not immediately located.
After conducting an extensive search of the business, approximately two hours after the three suspects fled, officers heard a noise coming from the top of a large refrigeration unit.
Police then found Israel Cortes asleep on top of the refrigeration unit, according to police. South Brunswick Police spokesman Sgt. Jim Ryan said the suspect had fallen asleep while he was hiding in the basement. Cortes then began to snore while he was sleeping, which drew the attention of officers.
The business was targeted by the suspects in order to steal copper pipes to later be sold, police said. Numerous pipes had already been cut out and were being prepared for loading into the suspect vehicles, police said.
Recovered from the scene were two Sawzall saws, gloves, and headlight lamps. The business sustained thousands of dollars worth of damage from the robbery, police said.
The two Cortes brothers were released after posting $10,000 bail, while Wilson was released on his own recognizance pending a court appearance. All three suspect vehicles were seized. A fourth suspect remains at-large.
“Officer Leung exemplifies what makes our agency great," Chief Raymond Hayducka said. "His hard work attitude and attention to detail led him to find these suspects. His efforts prevented a business owner and member of our community from being victimized further."