Police in New Jersey say they've arrested three members of the long-running "James Bond Gang" that had been targeting high-end homes in affluent neighborhoods across the tri-state for years.
The suspects were caught while police in Bergen County were staked out near a home that was being targeted by the robbers Wednesday evening, according to Sparta Police Sgt. John-Paul Beebe.
Police were deployed to the town of Sparta when a task force in Bergen County learned that the gang was preparing to target homes there and was on its way in a minivan with Michigan license plates, said Beebe. There, police officers found fresh footprints in the snow leading up to the front door of a home on Greenfield Hill that appeared to be unoccupied, said Beebe. The door had been forced open and several rooms had been ransacked.
Around the same time, a police sergeant saw the suspect minivan pass where he was positioned, according to Beebe. He followed the vehicle, while alerting other police officers patrolling the area. They were able to block the minivan, and removed three men from it.
Investigators at the scene recovered a pillow case containing pieces of jewelry from the burglary at Greenfield Hill that had apparently been tossed into the woods by the men.
Police arrested Leevan Lawrence, 30, of Englewood; Courry Rice, 29, of Hackensack; and Jerry Montgomery, 31, of Teaneck, the reputed leader of the gang. All three were charged with burglary, conspiracy to commit burglary and theft of movable property. Montgomery, who resisted arrest at the scene, was additionally charged.
Attorney information for the suspects was not immediately available.
The group of burglars had been operating in New Jersey for years and recently expanded to Rockland County in New York, according to police. At one burglary in Orangetown in early January, thieves took $30,000 worth of jewelry.
"It is a large group," Lt. Mark Emma of the Haverstraw Police Department told NBC 4 New York last month. "They've been in operation long enough that maybe their children have taken up the family profession, so to speak."
The burglars strike when a home is vacant, and disable alarm systems before bursting in. They typically strike at dusk, in high-end developments, and usually show up in luxury vehicles.
Several members of the long-running gang have been caught and sent to prison over the years. But new members are then recruited and the gang stays in operation.
Police continue to warn that the gang remains "intact, active and proficiently dangerous" despite Wednesday's arrests. Residents are urged to stay vigilant and contact police immediately if they see any suspicious behavior.