By Jaimie Julia Winters

A former Montclair resident has been arrested in connection with 50 residential burglaries and attempted burglaries — some while the residents were at home — in the South-west and northern sections of Montclair.

After a lengthy police investigation by Montclair Police, Saveon Hayles, 29, was arrested in Jersey City on Feb. 18 at 1 p.m., police said.

Approximately $400,000 in cash and jewelry were stolen during the burglaries that occurred throughout 2018 and into 2019.

"A number of these burglaries occurred while the residents were present in the home,"
Lt. David O’Dowd.

In one incident, a resident observed the suspect walking through his upstairs hallway while he lay in bed. In another incident, the homeowner observed the suspect run down the stairwell from the second floor of the home and out a rear door, O’Dowd said.

The suspect would kick in doors or use of a tool to gain entry into the Montclair homes. On other occasions it was a grab-and-go burglary through unlocked doors and windows. Hayles would allegedly grab pocketbooks and wallets from the kitchen and dining areas of the home and quickly flee the home, according to police.

Hayles would sell the jewelry pieces to pawn stores in Essex and Hudson Counties. The items were then sold by the pawn shops on the internet, O’Dowd said.

After observing Hayles outside his Jersey City home on Monday afternoon, Montclair detectives conducting a surveillance operation pursued the alleged burglar who then fled to a nearby apartment building. Jersey City Police joined the foot pursuit as the suspect proceeded through backyards and over fences into surrounding blocks. He was ultimately captured in the rear yard of a residence, said O’Dowd.

To date, police have charged Hayles in connection with 18 Burglaries, four attempted burglaries and theft in the 2nd degree. Further charges could be made as the investigation into the burglaries continues.

"Video surveillance provided by our residents was instrumental in this case," said O'Dowd.

Some of the jewelry proceeds have been successfully recovered by detectives and are being returned to these victims, police said.