Two Hopatcong men tried stealing a washing machine from a vacant home, police said.
Officers responded to a report of a burglary in progress on Hopatcong Street at at 2:19 p.m. Feb. 1, police said. The caller watched two white males climb into a residence through a window, police said.
When officers arrived, they didn't see anybody in the house, but saw Alexander Childs and Joseph Vernieri working on a washing machine in the adjacent house, police said. Both Vernieri and Childs said neither of them had been in the other residence, and hadn't seen anybody go in or out of it, police said.
The officers then went back to the residence, where they found its front-left window was unlocked and able to be pushed open, police said. An officer also observed that the front door appeared to have been forced open, but was closed at the time, police said.
The house appeared vacant, police said.
Hopatcong's police dispatcher soon got the anonymous caller back on the phone, and the caller said one of the men who climbed through the window was wearing red checked pants, which matched what Childs wore, police said.
After each denied entering the house again, Childs began changing his story, police said. He said the residence's property manager had given him permission to go into the home and take what he needed because the home was vacant, police said. When asked why he lied about going into the house, police said, Childs replied: "You asked me if I went through the window! I went through the door!" Childs eventually admitted going through the window, police said.
Then Childs said the property manager was going to leave keys to get into the house, but since the manager hadn't left keys and his washing machine was broken, he went into the vacant home and took its washing machine, police said.
James Childs, Alexander's father, also said the property manager had given the pair permission to enter the property and didn't understand why it was a problem, police said.
Alexander Childs then gave an officer the property manger's phone number, police said. Meanwhile, it was found Vernieri had a no-bail warrant out of Morris County, police said. Vernieri was then arrested and transported to the Hopatcong Police Department until Morris County authorities picked him up, police said.
The officer soon called the property manager, and the manager disputed the pair's story, saying nobody was given permission to enter the house to remove anything, police said.
Alexander Childs and Vernieri each were charged with burglary and theft of movable property. Alexander Childs was transported to Sussex County Jail en lieu of $5,000 bail with a 10-percent option, police said. Vernieri was taken to Morris County Jail en lieu of $5,000 bail with no 10-percent option, police said.
On Feb. 7, James Childs was charged with theft of property lost, mislaid or delivered by mistake. Childs said he would respond to the station the next day to be processed, police said.
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