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Three Arrested in Stafford Car Burglary Investigation

The probe of a car burglary spree in Stafford leads police to two suspects from town, and a drifter.

(BlakeDavidTaylor, ThinkStock)

Mark A. Benward, 20, of Manahawkin, and Anthony Rivera, 18, whose last known address was Seaside Heights, are accused of 15 car lootings and face possible additional charges of burglary, theft and criminal mischief, according to information from Stafford Township Police.

Among the stolen items was a .40-caliber handgun that the pair allegedly sold to Zachary Gerstein, 21, of Manahawkin, police said. All three were lodged in the Ocean County Jail in default of $50,000 bail apiece.

Other items taken included iPads, Kindles, cell phones, cash, wallets and other personal items, police said.

Benward and Rivera allegedly targeted locked and unlocked cars between August 5 and 7, police said. On the latter date, Patrolman Russell Griffin spotted a vehicle on the shoulder of Route 9 that had been abandoned after slamming a parked car on nearby Sugarhill Road, from where it had been stolen, police said.

Images of the suspects culled from video were posted on the township police Facebook page and generated tips. police said.

The handgun opened Benward and Rivera up to charges of armed burglary with a deadly weapon, unlawfull possession of a weapon, theft of a firearm, possession of hollow-point ammunition and motor vehicle theft.

Gerstein was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm, possession of a defaced firearm and possession of hollow-point ammo. Police returned the gun to its owner.

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