New Jersey

South Jersey Town's Mayor Helps Cops Catch Alleged Burglar

Galloway Township Police Chief Donna Higbee thanked the mayor, but didn't recommend everyone chase after suspects

Adrenaline kicked in for Mayor Tony Coppola Jr. of Galloway, New Jersey, when he saw a man trying to get into the locked restaurant owned by Coppola Jr.'s family late Wednesday night.

The key-holding suspect matched the description of the burglar who'd stolen money from Coppola Jr.'s other family-owned restaurant the night before, according to police.

"I thought, 'Chase [him],' and I went after him," Coppola Jr. told NBC10. "Adrenaline just took over."

Galloway Mayor Anthony Coppola Jr.
Galloway Township, New Jersey, Mayor Tony Coppola Jr. near the scene of the chase that occurred Oct. 23, 2019, when he helped his police force nab an alleged burglar.

The next thing he knew, Coppola Jr. was in the middle of Route 9 following closely after the suspect, who was subsequently caught by Galloway's police officers.

"I tried to hurdle over this fence. I didn't make it," he said in an interview, recounting the chase. "Ended up stumbling, landed in the middle of the highway."

Galloway Mayor Chases Suspect 1200
Galloway Township, New Jersey, Police Dept.
Mayor Anthony Coppola Jr., of Galloway Township, New Jersey, seen along Route 9 on a police cruiser dash camera, Oct. 23, 2019. Coppola helped nab an alleged burglar.

Police nabbed George Dean Jr., 31, of Port Republic, and charged him with burglary.

Dean Jr. allegedly somehow got his hands on a set of master keys to area businesses.

His fingerprints also matched those found at a nearby gas station that had also been recently burglarized, police said.

Coppola Jr.'s police chief, Donna Higbee, thanked her mayor, but didn't go so far to say everyone should go chasing after suspects in crimes.

"We don’t expect people to do that obviously, put their lives in danger," Higbee said. "Thankfully the outcome was great for everyone."

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